INDIAN WELLS, California, March 7 (Reuters) - Roger Federer applauded Thursday’s announcement that tennis will introduce biological passports for players and urged the sport to make the ATP Tour “as clean as it possibly can be” with a broad approach.
Earlier in the day, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) also said it would increase the number of blood tests done each year under its anti-doping programme in the wake of several high-profile cases in other sports.
“That’s good news,” 17-times grand slam winner Federer said at the BNP Paribas Open.
”I think tennis has done a good job of trying everything to be as clean as possible but we are entering a new era. Everything is becoming more professional with more money involved.
“We just need to make sure from our side that we are doing everything we can and for that reason we need the players to engage in this process. We have to do everything to ensure our tour is as clean as it possibly can be.”
Federer and many of his peers have been prominent in calling for tennis to up anti-doping measures, especially following the admission in January by seven-times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong that he doped throughout his cycling career.
“The cycling issue has been around for quite some time but what surfaced this year obviously was super extreme,” Federer said. “And that really gets you thinking that we just have to make sure that we do everything we possibly can.”
According to figures on the ITF website (www.itftennis.com), the governing body carried out only 21 out-of-competition blood tests in the professional game in 2011.
Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, carried out more than 3,314 out-of-competition blood tests in the same year.
”Things changed around,“ Federer said of the procedure of out-of-competition blood tests in tennis. ”Before it was like, ‘Okay, where are you going to be?’
“Now it’s like, ‘Where are you going to be for that one hour during the day, you have to give them everything, all your details and that stuff. It took some getting used to.”
However, Federer said he wanted blood testing to be more democratic as well as more frequent.
“Last year, through the Dubai, Rotterdam and Indian Wells swing where I won all three tournaments, I didn’t get tested once. And that shouldn’t be okay,” the 31-year-old Swiss said.
”You’ve just got to go test those guys who are doing really, really well anyways but also in the Challenger levels, in the first rounds, so that nobody really falls through.
“It’s important that everybody falls into the same string - ATP, ITF, WADA, whoever else is involved, the players, the officials, everybody needs to understand that this is really important for the integrity.”
A biological passport is an electronic document containing test results collated over time that can be used to detect changes that might indicate doping. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)