Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Indifference St.
01.09.2003 Sydney, Australia
Marat Safin says blood testing for the banned performance-enhancing substance EPO is invasive and unnecessary, and that players weren't properly consulted about its introduction in tennis.
Blood testing for EPO -- short for erythropoieten -- is expected to be conducted for the first time at a Grand Slam tennis tournament starting next week at the Australian Open.
Safin, a finalist at Melbourne Park last year, said there was already enough drug testing and that EPO wasn't a big issue in tennis.
"We go for too much. First of all, we have to go for the urine testing, now we have to go to EPO -- I said to the ATP that I don't think it's correct, but they really didn't listen,'' Safin said after withdrawing from the Adidas International on Thursday with a shoulder problem.
The former U.S. Open champion said some people were afraid of needles, others could object on cultural or religious grounds. He said fellow Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov was one of the people who doesn't a needle put into his vein.
"Not every person can take it, easily,'' Safin said. "Some people, they get dizzy afterward.''
The Australian Sports Drug Agency, which can be commissioned to conduct EPO tests throughout Australia, said only 10-12 milliliters (less than half a fluid ounce) of blood is taken in a dual-test format, which also involves a urine test.
An Australian Open official said it was agreed in principle that blood-testing could be conducted at Melbourne Park. However, he said the blood tests were supposed to be random and, so, wouldn't necessarily start at the Australian Open from Jan. 13-16.
Safin said tennis players didn't need endurance-enhancing drugs due to the nature of the sport.
"I'm sure that nobody needs to take any drugs to be able to play on the court,'' he said. "It's not the kind of sport like cycling, for example, where you have to go to the mountains for six hours. It's one hour and a half of tennis, it's not so much.''
Safin seems to be in a minority of players who oppose the blood tests.
01.09.2003 Sydney, Australia
A shoulder injury forced Marat Safin to withdraw from the Sydney International on Thursday, prompting fears that the Russian may not be fit for next week's Australian Open.
Safin was due to meet Korean qualifier Lee Hyung-taik in Thursday's quarter-finals but had to pull out on medical advice because of problems with his serving shoulder.
"It hurts and I cannot serve, there's a lot of pain," Safin said.
"(The doctor) said it's quite serious and it was better to stop right now."
Safin said he still expected to play in the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, but would ask officials for a late start to give him as much time as possible to recover.
He said he would fly to Melbourne on Thursday night to receive treatment and was prepared to play with painkillers to get him through the first few rounds.
"I need to stop for a few days but I hope I will be okay, I'm not sure but there is a chance," he said.
"I can play forehand, backhand, anything, expect serve.
"I'll be okay but I'll ask for a late start and try to recover."
Safin, seeded third this year, lost to Thomas Johansson in the 2002 Australian Open final.
Marat: Last question: what do you think of me? Dinara: You are my god! When you play, I love
to see you. When you lose, I am even sadder than when it is me. When you are wounded, I suffer.
When you speak to me, I drink your words. When you come to see me playing, I am with the angels.