With the start of the ATP World Tour Finals just a couple of days away, the best eight players in the world have gathered in London for numerous pre-tournament festivities and formalities. This included a lot of press conferences and interviews to talk about the finals but also talk about the state of tennis.
One of the issues raised by some of the game’s best was drug-testing, or lack thereof on the ATP Tour. The issue was particularly poignant because of the recent revelation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which accused Russia of a “state-sponsored doping programme.”
The sport’s most recognizable name and face, Roger Federer, said he would like to see more in-competition and out-of-competition testing done.
“They are trying their most but we can do more,” said Federer. “Whenever you make the quarterfinals of a tournament, when the points are greater, the money is greater, you should know that you will be tested. That would be very clear and simple. And if they keep the tests for longer, I’m all for that. Not just for weeks and months, but years I’m talking about. That’s the way to scare people. There needs to be more resources. It’s very important. Players need to feel that they’re going to be tested, so they will shy away from any stupid thought they might have.”
Along with Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray also weighed in on the issue. Nadal even suggested something that you almost never hear from professional athletes: Take some of the prize money and put it towards testing resources.
“Without being arrogant, it’s a rich sport, we have a very healthy sport, [so] the people who run the sport need to be sure [the] sport is clean,” Nadal said. “Players need to be sure and confident with people who run the sport [that it is] 100 percent clean in the right way. I don’t care if we have to put prize money, fine for me.”
And yes, that is easy for a player of Nadal’s caliber to say, as the majority of the earnings of top players come from endorsements, but it is still a rational and honest suggestion.
Murray’s thoughts were similar:
“We, as a sport, could invest more money in anti-doping processes,” he said. “Prize money now is so high, there’s no reason not to have as perfect a process as possible.”
It is encouraging to hear important discussions from the sport’s most notable voices, those of whom could actually enact change.
While the International Tennis Federation (ITF) does test frequently and adheres to the WADA standards, a more transparent process is what players like Federer, Murray and Nadal are calling for.
And I think we as fans of the sport want the same thing.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.