After the statements made by the two French cyclists Thibaut Pinot and Guillaume Martin on the infiltrations to which Rafael Nadal underwent during Roland Garros, the Daily Mail has decided to open an investigation into the anti-doping regulations that dominate the world of tennis.
Pinot and Martin specified that if they had taken the same choice as the Spanish champion, they would have been disqualified without a shadow of a doubt. Both wanted to highlight the difference in treatment reserved for cycling in the matter of doping.
The investigation conducted by Ed Willison and Jannik Schneider is destined to cause discussion, because it casts another shadow of concern over tennis. According to the Daily Mail, in fact, the ITF would allow the best players in the world to "book" their own doping tests by choosing the time and place to carry them out.
Players would also be asked to indicate time slots for testing at the Masters 1000 in Miami this year and prematurely warned about the checks to be made at Roland Garros 2019 and at the US Open 2021. A method that could make a big difference to ill-intentioned athletes.
The ITF anti-doping program, since last January, has been managed by the International Tennis Integrity Agency. The ITIA has confirmed that in certain tournaments they communicate test dates to athletes in order to take the highest possible number of samples.
Storm on the ITF: the anti-doping system is not convincing
"The statements of the ITIA are striking. Knowing the test dates in advance is a huge difference for blood samples. A window of three or four days before a tournament would be the ideal time to recharge the blood volume and maximize stamina and recovery," commented the well-known Australian scientist Rob Parisotto.
Former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency Dick Pound compared the approach of tennis to cycling's much-criticized inability to denounce Lance Armstrong's dark years of doping: "I've always had a lot of suspicions about federations that rely on the number of tests done instead of focusing on high-risk athletes.
They seek refuge in statistics." The ITF is also accused of inflating the number of tests conducted over the seasons. According to the accurate research carried out by the Daily Mail, if a player sends blood samples, urine analysis and biological passport at the same time, the system is capable of counting three different tests instead of one.
The ITF's fight against doping has often come under the scrutiny of the last 20 years. In 2016, Roger Federer revealed that he had only been tested once in 10 years, even during winter preparation. According to what was declared by the International Tennis Federation, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would have been tested respectively 9, 12 and 13 times out of competition in 2021.
The ITF has never sanctioned a tennis player for anomalies present in their respective biological passports or in the against EPO, a hormone of the body produced in the kidneys, which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.
At most, two ABP tests have been scheduled in the Grand Slam tournaments in 2021. This means that the organization has not assessed the extent of substances present in the blood of the tennis players in the major tournaments of the Tour.