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28 Apr 2017

Tennis stakeholders strengthen anti-doping measures in week Sharapova returns to court

The key stakeholders in tennis today approved enhanced measures for the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme for 2017, in the same week that Russian star Maria Sharapova made her return to the sport following a high-profile, 15-month doping ban.

The enhancements to the programme, which is a joint initiative between the men's ATP, the women's WTA, the International Tennis Federation and the Grand Slam Board, come into effect on 1 May and include an increase in the volume of testing and a strengthening of the sample storage policy. 

The ITF, the sport's governing body, said there will be up to 8,000 tests carried out this year, up from 4,899 in 2016, which will include the collection of more urine and blood samples both in-competition and out-of-competition across more events. 

In addition, more samples (up to 50 per cent for top-ranked players) will be placed into long-term storage, allowing reanalysis of those samples, such as when new or more effective detection methods become available.

To fund these changes, the annual budget for the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme will be increased by over 50 per cent to approximately $4.5 million in 2017.

David Haggerty, the president of the ITF, said: “We welcome this strengthening of the sport’s anti-doping efforts. Protecting the integrity of tennis is an ongoing priority of the governing bodies of tennis to ensure that tennis is and remains a clean sport, and these enhancements will make a positive contribution to achieving that priority.”

Sharapova is presently competing in the Stuttgart Open - her first tournament since being handed a two-year, later reduced to 15-month, ban for meldonium use - having controversially been awarded a wild card to enter the event.