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By Blair Henley

Franceso Ricci Bitti (November 20, 2012) -- With several top players recently weighing in on drug testing in tennis, it was only a matter of time before the ITF head honchos had their say.
Last week, ITF Anti-Doping Manager Stuart Miller discussed the possibility of implementing a biological passport program, which is, according to the WADA website, “the monitoring of selected biological parameters over time that will indirectly reveal the effects of doping rather than attempting to detect the doping substance itself.”

Sounds promising (and expensive).

Miller went on to say that implementing the program by the end of 2013 “would be nice.” And while he may as well have said “Not a chance!” he did confirm that changes are in store.

"We're working hard to try to increase the proportion of out-of-competition testing, and particularly blood testing, and we've been working on that for a while," he said.

While Miller’s comments were nice, neutral, and noncommittal, ITF President and WADA Executive Committee member Francesco Ricci Bitti went the contradictory, confusing, and cavalier route with his remarks to DPA while in Prague for the Davis Cup final.

He explained that Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic, who have all expressed a desire for more testing, are just plain fickle.

"You know the players, they like to talk,” he said. “A few years ago, the same players were complaining because they were being tested.”

Ricci Bitti then admitted that the ITF program is “exposed in terms of quantity.” But he also thinks the ITF Anti-Doping Program is “absolutely good” and “highly appreciated.” 

He concluded, rather paradoxically, with this:

"I am not as pretentious as to think that we can catch all cheats," he said. "But I am confident that tennis is a clean sport. We need to improve our program, but knowing other sports, I am reasonably confident that we cannot have an Armstrong case. That was a highly organized and scientific system. That is not the case with tennis.”

In Ricci Bitti’s case, one can only hope he is as vigilant and determined as he is confident. If players are complaining of too many tests next year, we’ll know that he and Miller are delivering on their promises.

(Photo Credit: Getty)


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