At this year’s French Open, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) are conducting drug testing on the players.
French newspaper Le Mondequotes AFLD President Pierre Bodry, “The AFLD will conduct random and targeted checks at Roland-Garros, The tests will be organized according to the information we have and the evidence available from the ITF.” (original and translation)
It is unclear if the AFLD are conducting blood and/or urine tests on the players.
Normally at the Slams, the ITF conducts drug testing on a player after he or she loses or wins the tournament. The addition of random drug testing during the tournament is an excellent addition. Maybe someday the ITF will move towards checking every player immediately before a Slam and after each win.
The last time the AFLD tested at the French Open was 2006, during a time when Operación Puerto broke in Spain and one year after men’s runner up Mariano Puerta and the women’s side 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva failed drug tests at the 2005 French Open.
It is unclear why AFLD is testing during the 2009 French Open; although, it seems unlikely that it is in reaction to Richard Gasquet’s positive drug test for cocaine. According to Le Monde, the new WADA code makes it possible for a national anti-doping organization to conduct drug testing at an event where a sports federation conducts testing.
It may be possible that the AFLD received a tip on possible doping at this year’s French Open. During the 2008 Tour de France, the AFLD organized doping controls, testing targeted players before and during the race.
As described by VeloNews, “Doping controls run by the French national anti-doping agency (AFLD) were precise, diligent, numerous and—after four doping positives—accurate.” So far the four are now seven positive tests, most for CERA-EPO or EPO.
It is interesting to note that the AFLD was able to conduct retroactive testing because the agency controlled, or “owned,” the samples. It is unclear if the ITF or AFLD “owns” the samples collected by the AFLD during the French Open.
The ITF runs the Davis Cup and Fed Cup and “works closely”with the federation or association running each of the four Slam events. The ITF must get permission from the ATP/WTA to test at their events.
As written on page 69 of The 2009 ATP® Official Rulebook, the ATP requires that “… Official Anti-Doping Personnel shall notify a tournament of the number of personnel required no later than three (3) weeks prior to the start of an event.”
It is worth mentioning the above to understand the parameters in which the ITF must operate.
With any luck, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the Anti-Doping people at UK Sport will follow in the lead of the AFLD.
To note: While the AFLD carrying out testing is a pretty major event, most US media ignored it in favor of mentioning important things such as Nadal wearing a pink shirt. Google both to see for yourself.