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Passports should end doping system "disaster:" Berdych

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic eyes the ball during his match against Marcel Granollers of Spain during the Monte Carlo Masters in Mona
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic eyes the ball during his match against Marcel Granollers of Spain during the Monte Carlo Masters in Mona

By Gregory Blachier

MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - Current anti-doping measures in tennis are a "disaster" and the introduction of biological passports can only improve matters, world number six Tomas Berdych said.

"The system right now... I don't know how it works with the others but with me, it does not work at all," the Czech told Reuters in an interview at the Monte Carlo Masters this week.

"You have to say every single day... where you are. I've done this for three or four years already and I had only two tests out of the tournaments," Berdych said.

"So why do I have to do this all the time and then they come twice in four years? It's just like complete nonsense."

Under International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules, players must give their location for at least one hour of each day in case they are required for an out-of-competition drugs test, usually by means of a urine sample.

"If some people were hired to think about that and have come up with this kind of idea, if it was me, I would have fired them straight away," Berdych said.

"This system is a complete disaster. So whatever they're going to do differently, it's going to be good, new or whatever."

The ITF said last month it would introduce biological passports for players this year, in line with measures adopted in other sports such as cycling.

The new system, under which test results are collated over time to enable testers to track any changes which might indicate doping, would involve more blood tests being done every year, the federation said.

According to their website (www.itftennis.com), the ITF carried out 21 out-of-competition blood tests in professional tennis in 2011.

By comparison, cycling's world governing body UCI conducted 3,314 in the same year.

Top players, including 17-times grand-slam winner Roger Federer, have welcomed the introduction of biological passports in tennis and Berdych added his backing.

"Sure, I'm definitely on this side. There should be more tests," Berdych said.

World number nine Richard Gasquet of France also praised the new system.

"We still have urine tests that are a bit behind the times and we know that potential cheats always are way ahead," he told Reuters.

Urine tests can detect many drugs including EPO, one of several substances taken by disgraced former Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong, but only blood tests can detect human growth hormone.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) head John Fahey earlier this year called on tennis officials to increase the number of blood tests.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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