WIMBLEDON, England — The ATP said Wednesday it is prepared to start testing for the performance-enhancing substance EPO by September, and is increasing in-competition as well as out-of-competition testing.
By raising the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, EPO improves endurance. In May, the ATP signed on with Swedish-based International Doping Testing Management (IDTM) to administer its drug-testing program. IDTM has specialized portable blood testing equipment to screen for the use of EPO.
But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is scheduled to make a decision as to whether only a urine test is reliable, or if blood and urine tests are required.
"It makes more sense to wait a few weeks--they [WADA] may just go with the urine test," ATP spokesman David Higdon said. "We would begin testing immediately."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 30, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 82 words Type of Material: Correction
Tennis--A Sports story Thursday on drug testing in professional tennis reported that Spanish player Tommy Robredo was not tested in 2001. Robredo was tested for drugs six times in 2001.
The tour also is planning on making the drug-testing patterns less predictable, for example, starting in the middle of a tournament or near the end, instead of arriving Monday.
In 2002, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme--jointly used by the ITF, the ATP and the WTA tour--is planning to increase the number of in-competition tests by 20% and out-of-competition tests by 100% from 2001.
For example, Yevgeny Kafelnikov was tested 10 times in 2001.
Of players ranked in the top 100, Tommy Robredo of Spain and David Nalbandian of Argentina fell through the cracks and were not tested last year, officials said.
What brought the issue of drugs into sharper focus recently were the criticisms of Frenchman Nicolas Escude during Roland Garros earlier this month. Escude, in an interview with a French newspaper, charged the ATP with covering up positive drug tests. The ATP denied those allegations.
Escude is supposed to meet with Mark Miles, the CEO of the ATP, at Wimbledon. One source said that Escude wrote a letter of apology to tour officials.
He wasn't the only critical voice in the Le Parisien article.
"I can't believe there is a real will to fight against doping," Fabrice Santoro told the newspaper. "I don't know whether the testing is done to catch the guys or just for show. Sometimes, I ask myself the question, when I see what goes on."