BRITAIN’S Andy Murray has called on fellow players to sacrifice a portion of their earnings in order to fund more rigorous drug testing in tennis, admitting he does not know whether the sport can be called clean.
Murray yesterday passionately argued for more blood testing and the introduction of the biological passport system in order to prevent tennis from suffering its own Lance Armstrong-style scandal.
The Scot conceded cost was a barrier to a tougher anti-doping policy, but said he would be willing to give up earnings in exchange for improvements that he believes would ultimately benefit the sport financially.
“I’ve been asked a lot lately if tennis is clean or not,” said Murray, who was speaking at Queen’s Club yesterday to publicise his participation in the Aegon Championships in June.
“I don’t know anymore how you judge whether a sport is clean. If one in 100 players is doping then in my eyes that isn’t a clean sport.
“We need to do everything we can to ensure everyone competing at the highest level, and below, is clean. I think that comes with the biological passports and more blood testing.
“Maybe it’s down to our governing bodies to invest some of our money into making sure we get more testing. It’s a cost thing. But in the long term I think you save a lot of money.
“I think more people would come to watch sports rather than reading all the time about these doping scandals or match fixing or whatever it is. Every single week it’s something different and it’s bad for sport.
“I don’t know exactly how it [funding] works, I just know that it comes down to cost and whoever is putting the money in, if it means taking money out of players’ earnings, then that’s what we have to do.
“Not just tennis, all sports now need to look very closely at this stuff, because I think a lot has been learned from what happened with Lance Armstrong. You don’t want that happening ever again, and I don’t want that happening for my sport because it would be terrible.”
Doping in tennis is back on the agenda after Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, whose trial continues, implicated unnamed stars from the sport in suspect practices.
Dr Stuart Miller, anti-doping manager of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which administers the sport’s drug testing, told City A.M. there had been no talks about players part-funding the programme but said precedents existed in other sports. The ITF’s approximate £1m testing budget is currently funded by the ATP and WTA tours and grand slams.