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Tennis serves up new measures in the fight against doping

updated 1:09 PM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The International Tennis Federation to introduce biological passport scheme
  • Anti-doping measure is similar to method introduced by cycling authorities
  • Measures in response to pressure from top players to do more to tackle problem
  • Roger Federer told CNN it was "naive" to think tennis was free from drug cheats

(CNN) -- When giants of the modern game, like world No. 1 Novak Djokovic or 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer, talk the tennis authorities usually listen.

And in the fight against doping in the sport, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) certainly have after it was confirmed they are to introduce biological passports to tackle drug cheats.

The announcement on Thursday by the ITF came with the full support of the men's ATP and women's WTA Tours, as well as the grand slam tournaments themselves.

Each player will have an individual electronic biological profile and be tested more regularly to monitor their levels and alert the authorities to drug use.

Read: U.S. grand slam drought: Is NFL killing American tennis?

The ITF also confirmed an increase in funding, vowed more blood tests each season and more out of competition testing.

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Last week Federer told CNN it was "naive" to think tennis is free of players who use drugs to enhance their performance and called on the sport's governing bodies to pour more funding into the fight against it.

He said: "I think our sport needs to do the utmost to try to make sure the integrity stays and that the fans don't tune into different sports just because they don't trust the players anymore.

"I've always been fighting to make sure we have enough testing."

The Swiss veteran is sure to be pleased by the ITF's confirmation of a biological passport scheme, similar to the one used by cycling authorities to weed out doping cheats.

Sport has been rocked by several high-profile doping scandals in recent months with Lance Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting using banned substances.

Soccer's world governing body FIFA recently announced they would introduce biological profiles and test players more regularly in a bid to stamp out cheating.

Australian sport was also stunned by a government report which alleged many athletes were using illegal substances supplied by organized criminal groups.

On Thursday the National Rugby League became embroiled in scandal after Sydney-based club the Cronulla Sharks said they were assisting the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority after reports that up to 14 of their players could be using banned drugs.

"The implementation of the athlete biological passport is an important step in the evolution of the tennis anti-doping program as it provides us with a great tool in the fight against doping in our sport," said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

"We also hope to have increased support from the National Anti-Doping Agencies around the world who need to do their part if we are to win this battle and make our programme more effective.

"Our thanks to the Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP and WTA who have recognised the need to increase the investment of tennis in anti-doping and to the players who asked for more testing, especially blood testing, over the next few years."

The ITF's stance was backed by Stacey Allaster, the chief executive of the WTA Tour and her male counterpart from the ATP Tour Brad Drewett.

Drewett added: "The players have been clear that they support increased investment in anti-doping and we feel that this is the most effective way to show the world that tennis is a clean sport."

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