Tennis: Drug testers thwarted

Click to follow
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. 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 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.

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