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http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/news/ap/20030108/ap-drugtesting.html

By JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer
January 8, 2003

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- 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.

The plan to test for EPO, which raises the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, was presented to players at Wimbledon last summer. A players council met two days before the U.S. Open and indicated it was in favor of the testing. Players already are tested for recreational drugs and steroids.

Belgian women Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, No. 4 and No. 5 in the women's rankings, are strong advocates of the blood doping.

Clijsters, who is on the WTA player's committee, said as much testing as possible was good for the sport.

``The only thing is I'm a bit scared of needles -- that's the only way to test for EPO, is with a blood test -- so that's the only problem, but I could learn,'' she said.

Henin said she was 100-percent behind the extra testing.

``It will prove tennis is OK -- it will be good for tennis,'' she said.

Tests will be given to players on the men's and women's pro tours -- the ATP and WTA -- and members of the International Tennis Federation, which oversees the four Grand Slam tournaments, the Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

A positive test for EPO would result in a two-year suspension. A second offense would be punished by a lifetime ban.

In recent years, two Argentine players were suspended after testing positive for banned substances. Petr Korda, who won the 1998 Australian Open, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone at Wimbledon later that year. He was banned for a year.

EPO has been prevalent among athletes in sports such as cycling and cross-country skiing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Doping is big problem in sports. In tennis too. ATP and WTA just don´t want to ruin sports reputation as cycling did.

Not smartest of comments from Marat , that must be said.
And if I´d say some player who "probably uses" I would get heavy hammering from other users. Not into that. So this is one of topics that can not be discussed...
 

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psychotic banana
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hmmm...i c....
 

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What? Safin on drugs? You gotta be joking.... Look how flegmatic he on the court......... when he feels good he plays good but now..... he is not fresh yet after last season. so tere is nothing to do with drugs... I think this tests should be introduced in WTA! Look at Capriati and Williams! Sure there is doping! They are even bigger then men. That is not fair......... additionally they didn't let to make doping control during last US Open. Does that say about anything?
 

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Williams and Capriati said that they r against controls,just like Safin! :p
 

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Originally posted by madten
Look at Capriati and Williams! Sure there is doping! They are even bigger then men.
You mean that if Safin puts on say Venus tennis dress it would be hanging like a bag on him? :eek:

Now I would like to see that. No joking :D
 

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"...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.''


Hands up who thinks Marat is scared of needles:D
 

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According to my experience, men are afraid of blood more than women. May be women go through lot more blood test than men in life. (e.g. men don't get pregnant).

I know a guy fainted after he was given a shot (there's no blood at all, just a muscle shot). I saw one of my male co-worker turn real pale (close to faint) after the other guy had a nasty cut on his hand and blood oozying out. I had to send him away before I could take care of the guy who was bleeding.

But afraid of taking blood test is not a good reason for turning down the test. They should do what's good for tennis.
 

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Objecting to testing does not mean that a player is on drugs. But Marat's comments about fear of needles looked very weak especially when juxtaposed to Kim's remark about her fear of needles further down the page.

THe comment that there must be doping on the WTA Tour because some players have obvious muscles is nonsense. Alicia Molik towered over Lleyton Hewitt at the Hopman Cup and was even able to pick him up. Must we assume that she is taking EPO/steroids etc? Or more prosaically that genetics and gym work are the factors that produce such physiques?

EPO works by increasing stamina and endurance and not by building muscle and, as far as I know, steroids are already tested for on both tours.
 

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As to whether Safin's on drugs or not - God only knows. However, I do think he's afraid of needles - so what's new? Who does like them. I hate them, but as someone else said us women who have to go through pregnancy & Childbirth just have to shut our eyes & go through with it - so maybe the big, brave men should just shut up & do the same!
As I believe EPO is an endurance enhancing drug, starting testing at a Slam is the best place. There isn't usually that much need of the extra stamina at normal ATP t'ments where it's the best of 3 sets. However it is slightly different during a Slam or DC tie where the player who is least tired in the 5th set could have an advantage. We all know that it can't improve their actual play, unless it also blows their minds & they start performing miracles!
 
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