Tennis: ATP block on Swiss drugs test

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The Independent Online
A BITTER ROW has broken out in Gstaad after the Association of Tennis Professionals refused to allow the Swiss Olympic Committee to conduct surprise dope tests on Swiss players, saying they alone were responsible for testing.

The incident occurred after first-round play at the Swiss Open on Tuesday with both sides claiming they have jurisdiction.

The SOC believes the position of the Gstaad organisers and the ATP was wrong legally as well as politically in the current doping climate. "It's our law, our position and our right to be able to control every Swiss athlete whenever and wherever we want," Fred Ernst, the chief of doping controls for the SOC, said. "The position of Gstaad and the ATP is that it isn't our right."

A controller from the SOC arrived at the Swiss resort on Tuesday evening and told tournament organisers he was there to conduct unannounced tests on Swiss players, including the 1992 Olympic champion Marc Rosset, Roger Federer, Lorenzo Manta and George Bastl.

He was denied access to the players by the tournament director, Jacques Hermenjat, on the grounds that it was an ATP tournament. Organisers said the ATP, which runs the men's tour, had its own testing and the SOC had no right to conduct tests at such events.

"The tournament is sanctioned by the ATP and subject to ATP rules and testing," Zeljko Franulovic, the ATP executive vice-president of Europe, said. "There's no need to have tests done by other agencies. It could be quite confusing.

"You could have local clubs coming down and testing. You can't let anyone just test whenever they want. One programme is enough and we think our testing is the best in the world."

The ATP and Gstaad organisers also argued that there was no proper security or facilities to conduct such sensitive tests, which could have left the results open to dispute.

"There was just one gentleman and a bag," Hermenjat said. "When we test on the Tour we make sure the proper facilities are in place, that there is proper security and escorts for the players. I think there was concern about how these tests were being conducted."

Hermenjat said an agreement might have been reached if the SOC had informed Gstaad organisers of their plans. But the SOC said it did not inform federations it was coming, believing such notice would defeat the purpose of unannounced tests.

"We don't give warnings, we do all our testing by surprise." Ernst said. "If you announce you're coming what's the use? Now we will have to take measures to make sure this does not happen again.

"They say that they have the best testing. Every federation says they have the best testing in the world but, if so, then why do we have so many problems?"

Lleyton Hewitt has been drafted into the Australian team to replace the injured Mark Philippoussis for the Davis Cup quarter-final against the United States.

The 18-year-old, who reached the third round at Wimbledon before losing to Germany's Boris Becker, will make his Davis Cup debut in the 16-18 July tie in Brookline, near Boston. The Australian team also comprises the US Open champion Patrick Rafter, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

Hewitt and Rafter are expected to play singles, while Woodbridge and Woodforde - known as "the Woodies" - will line up in doubles.