A leading figure in Tennis has called for players who fail a drugs test to be named.
David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation, told the Guardian that he believed there should be transparency when tennis players are given a provisional ban after failing a drugs test.
He said: “We’ve discussed the possibility of announcing provisional suspensions, as a way to be transparent as to what’s going on. I think that you’ll see after Wimbledon some announcements because each of seven bodies has to go back to their stakeholders and have formal approval of things.”
In March, Maria Sharapova told a press conference that she had failed a drugs test in January at the Australian Open. She had been taking meldonium, medication which increases blood flow and is often prescribed for heart conditions, since 2006 but the drug was added to a list of banned substances on January 1 this year.
The International Tennis Federation had not made the results of Sharapova’s drug test public but she chose to announce it herself. She is now waiting to hear whether or not the anti-doping committee will ban her from playing tennis for up to four years.
Confusion over banned substance
She claims she had no idea that the medication she was taking had become a banned substance as it had been prescribed to her by a doctor with the trade name Mildronate.
The secrecy which currently surrounds drug testing in tennis can lead to rumours and suspicion when players pull out of tournaments, even if it is legitimately down to injury or other circumstances.
Mr Haggerty said the IFT would look at the rules to decide whether or not it was appropriate to make provisional suspensions public in the future.
He said: “In theory, then, anything you hear means there is a suspension; if you don’t hear anything, there isn’t a suspension.”
Drug testing is common in sport and there is a long list of legal medication which athletes are not allowed to take while they are competing. However, drug testing can also play an important role in workplaces with employers testing staff members they suspect may be misusing illegal substances.
Many organisations also use random testing as a way of deterring employees from using drugs. And pre-employment screening is used to check people don’t have a substance misuse problem before they are taken on by a company.