Tennis stars question new doping rules

Feb. 6, 2009 at 3:17 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The World Anti-Doping Agency is defending new regulations from criticism by athletes including Scottish tennis star Andy Murray, who calls them "draconian."

At issue is the "whereabouts" system, which requires athletes to notify their national anti-doping organization where they will be for one hour during every day for three months, to facilitate unannounced collection of random samples, the BBC reported Friday. A player could be suspended for failing to meet with testers three times during an 18-month period.

The International Tennis Federation announced details of the regulations last month at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The system has been in place for several years, but 2009 guidelines require athletes to make themselves available seven days a week -- not just five days, as under previous guidelines -- and to be present for an entire hour, not just part of an hour, the BBC said.

The Professional Players Association -- an organization made up of various U.K. professional athletes' associations -- this week said WADA's out-of-competition testing was becoming a "fiasco," the BBC said. WADA General Director David Howman said the basic question is "do you want cheats or not."

"We haven't heard a suggestion of anything better," Howman told the BBC.

"These new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life," Murray told The Times of London.

He said a tester visited him at his home at 7 a.m., four days after he had been tested after losing a match at the Australian Open.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal said the regulations indicate "a lack of respect for privacy," the Times reported.

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