New York, USA, 04 Sep 2006 - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced today that starting January 1, 2007, the ITF will assume full responsibility for the management, administration and enforcement of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme at all Sony Ericsson WTA Tour-sanctioned events.
The agreement, which will extend until the end of 2011, will see the ITF undertake a full testing programme at all Tier I to IV Sony Ericsson WTA Tour events as well as the prestigious season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships. The ITF already oversees the testing of women players at the Grand Slams, Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, ITF Women’s Circuit, junior and wheelchair tennis events. The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, which was jointly created by the ITF, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and ATP in 1993 to cover the whole of tennis, is an internationally recognised and comprehensive drug-testing programme that conducts both in and out-of-competition testing of athletes and is designed to protect the health of players and ensure equal and fair competition. Additionally, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour was the first professional sports league to become a signatory to the WADA Code.
“The ITF believes that having the management of the entire Tennis Anti-Doping Programme under one umbrella is the most efficient and sensible way forward for tennis,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “All three governing bodies, the ITF, ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, have the same objective – to protect our players and keep our sport drug free – and streamlining the management will only make the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme stronger and more transparent for all of our constituents: players, the media and the fans who follow our sport. We look forward to working with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and know that we will have the same successful relationship that we currently enjoy with the ATP.”
”The number one priority for the Tour is to protect the health of our players and ensure that our competitive playing field remains fair,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott. “The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a globally recognised programme that has served as a model for other sports, and our agreement today with the ITF sends a clear message that the governing bodies of our sport are determined to continue doing everything possible to ensure that tennis remains clean. Our players share this commitment to maintaining the highest standards and administrative procedures possible.”
Between 2007 and 2011, the number of tests conducted at Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Tier I to IV events is expected to increase by over 150%. These are in addition to tests at the Grand Slams, Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, ITF Women’s Circuit, junior and wheelchair tennis events. The ITF will consult with the Tour on the selection of events for conducting in-competition testing and on the program parameters for out-of-competition testing.
The agreement follows a similar arrangement with the ATP, and will see the ITF assume complete responsibility for all aspects of the programme from sample collection through the organisation of any tribunals (including appeal tribunals) to any prosecution of charges against Tour players before such tribunals. The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is fully compliant with the WADA Code.
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will continue to play a key role in support of the Programme over the period of the agreement. As well as ensuring, through its rules, that each player consents to the jurisdiction of the ITF as a condition of participation in Tour events, the Tour will continue to maintain and enhance its comprehensive education program for all players, ensuring that players of all ages and experience have a clear and complete understanding of the Programme and what it means for them. The Tour will also honour any penalties or sanctions against Tour players resulting from violations by players of the Anti-Doping Programme.