Via Larry Brown Sports:
Andy Murray has not always been a fan of the drug testing process in tennis, but now he wants harsher testing in the sport to get rid of those who are cheating.
Murray, who won the US Open and the gold medal in men’s singles at the Olympics, was blood tested when he arrived in Paris ahead of the BNP Paribas Masters, prompting his comments.
“They came to the hotel on Saturday and it was completely random,” Murray said, per The Herald in Scotland. “I think that’s good. We’re not used to doing that many blood tests in tennis – I’ve probably had four or five blood tests this year – so it’s something that’s obviously necessary.”
Though Murray doesn’t think tennis has the reputation or problems of cycling, the fallout involving Lance Armstrong has him concerned about achieving a level playing field for all players.
“I’ve probably had four or five blood tests this year, but a lot more urine, so it’s obviously completely necessary when you hear things like about Armstrong. It’s a shame for their sport but how they managed to get away with it was incredible, for so long,” Murray said, via the Daily Mail.
“The one thing I would say with a sport like cycling is it’s purely physical, there’s very little skill involved in the Tour de France. It is the power, how many watts you’re producing, whereas with tennis you can’t learn the skill by taking a drug.
“I think tennis at the top level has been pretty clean compared to most sports. But that isn’t to say more can’t be done to make 100 percent sure there are no issues.”
Murray noted that the top players are tested more frequently than the lower-ranked ones, which is something he knows from personal experience.
“It doesn’t necessarily always make sense just to test the guys that are at the top, you need to do it throughout the whole sport,” he said. “We get tested throughout the whole year [but] I think the out-of-competition stuff could probably get better.”
One of the potential challenges of having more blood testing is the cost. The International Tennis Federation reportedly only had 21 blood tests last year, which they say can cost up to $1,000 at a time.
When players are caught, Murray thinks they have been let off too easily. He alluded to tennis player Wayne Odesnik, who was caught transporting HGH internationally. Odesnik received a two-year retroactive suspension, but only had to serve one year because he was cooperative.
“If people are going to go through the process of doing the whole ‘whereabouts’ thing, then if people fail the tests, don’t let them off and don’t say, ‘okay, it’s going to go from two years to six months,’ because that’s not how it should work.
“That’s what was frustrating for me about it because we’re going through all of this and they’re being too lenient with guys that are travelling with human growth hormone to other countries. It’s just ridiculous.”
Murray’s new stance is a change from how he felt as recently as January. He complained about the testing process after being asked to stick around for a half-hour to receive a blood test following a loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. He also complained about being tested on an off-day at the US Open in 2009.
Some of his contemporaries have recently stated that they feel the testing is fine. That’s probably because they view it as a nuisance, the way Murray once did.
Tennis.com notes that both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams don’t think more testing is needed.
“Considering I landed from New York [after the U.S. Open] and my first day back at home I got a wake-up call at 6:00 a.m., I think that’s enough,” Sharapova said last week. “Yep, knocking on my door. I was like, ‘Thank you. Welcome home.’”
“Stringent enough is putting it mildly,” Williams said. “People show up at my house at 5:00 in the morning trying to test me. You never know when they come. I get tested a lot. I don’t know about the other players, but for me it’s a pretty intense system, and I know a lot of the players feel the same way.”
Murray obviously feels differently. Maybe that’s because he can overlook the nuisance to see the benefit of testing.
“The out-of-competition stuff could probably get better,” he said. “When we’re in December, when people are training and setting their bases, it would be good to do more around that time.”
When one of the world’s top players speaks, people tend to listen. We’ll see if tennis makes any changes in light of his comments.