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INTERVIEW-Tennis-Kuznetsova joins attack on drugs testing rules
May 10, 2009 / 6:23 PM / 8 years ago

INTERVIEW-Tennis-Kuznetsova joins attack on drugs testing rules

* Russian condemns WADA “whereabouts” rules

* Urges authorities to change drugs testing regime

By Iain Rogers

MADRID, May 10 (Reuters) - World number eight Svetlana Kuznetsova has joined other top athletes in condemning drug testing rules that require players to give three months’ notice of where they will be for an hour each day.

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) so-called “whereabouts” rules have been criticised by many professionals, including men’s world number one Rafael Nadal and Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva.

With WADA holding its executive board meeting in Montreal on Sunday, the controversial rule is expected to be among the hot topics discussed and Kuznetsova said they should be reworked.

“I don’t agree with this rule because it can interrupt your private life,” the Russian told Reuters in an interview arranged by the WTA Tour’s sponsor Sony Ericsson at the Madrid Open.

”If I am in Moscow for example and one night I decide to go out to my friend’s house why should I come back at eight o’clock in the morning to my house to be checked?

“It’s very tough. I think they should change.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) supports the regulations but WADA is battling with many sports governing bodies such as soccer’s FIFA and cycling’s UCI over the issue.

A European Union panel said last month WADA should reassess the rules as many points contravened the bloc’s privacy laws.

A legal challenge has been lodged in Belgium on behalf of 65 athletes, including cyclists and volleyball players, who argue the rule breaks EU privacy laws. FIFPro, the soccer players’ union, is also mounting a case.

The issue of drugs in tennis came to the fore again on Sunday after French player Richard Gasquet said he had tested positive for cocaine at a tournament in Miami last month.

INTERRUPTED LIVES

Shortly after capturing the 2004 U.S. Open title Kuznetsova had a brush with doping allegations when she was wrongfully accused by Belgian regional sports minister Claude Eerdekens of failing a drugs test during an exhibition tournament.

She was swiftly cleared of any wrongdoing by tennis officials and told Reuters on Sunday it made more sense for testing on tennis players to be done during competition.

“We play tournaments almost every second or third week and they could test us anytime and they still want to interrupt our lives,” she said. “This is what I don’t agree with.”

Asked about the rules at a news conference at the Madrid Open on Sunday, world number two Serena Williams said she found them “weird” and they sometimes interfered with her social life.

”Well it’s weird sometimes if you want to go to dinner,“ she said. ”Like I was at dinner once and then there was doping at my house and I was just like okay well.

“But I guess you just have to give them an hour when you’re going to be at home and stick with your schedule and it will all work out for you.”

Editing by Pritha Sarkar; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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