Novak keen to keep tennis clean
World number one Novak Djokovic today claimed he is currently providing fewer blood samples for drug testing than he was two years ago – but insists tennis need not fear a Lance Armstrong-style doping scandal.
Armstrong’s long-awaited interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs over much of his career despite repeated denials, was aired overnight.
And after ripping into the shamed American cyclist – Djokovic said Armstrong “should suffer for his lies” – the Serbian, a five-time grand slam champion, believes tennis’ procedures are sufficient.
“In tennis, at least from my perspective, it’s really good,” he said.
“Anti-doping regulations are a little more strict in the sense you have to fill in the ’whereabouts documents’ and you have to give an hour or two in every day of your life to say where you are. It gives them an opportunity to test you. I have nothing against the anti-doping federation testing me 10, 20, 30 times a year.”
Djokovic did admit, however, that blood testing had decreased recently.
“It was more regular two to three years ago,” he added. “I don’t know why they stopped doing this.”
The most up-to-date records on the International Tennis Federation website show that in 2011 Djokovic was tested – either his blood or urine – more than seven times in competition and on between one and three occasions outside an event.
Djokovic joined Roger Federer and Andy Murray in requesting more tests prior to the ATP Tour Finals in London in November and said again today he would support a ramped-up drug-programme.
“As many urine and blood samples they take the better,” he said. “Then you’re aware that it’s a clean sport and everybody has the same treatment. Money should be invested in that direction because it’s a safeguard for our sport.”
The Armstrong saga has dragged cycling into the gutter – although it is not the first drug scandal to rock the sport.
Djokovic is confident tennis is not susceptible to something similar.
“In the last few years there have maybe been one or two cases but they were players outside the top 100,” he said.
“We are keeping this sport clean. We are working towards it. There is awareness with players and officials. As long as it is like that we are on the right road.”