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Nadal attacks drug-testing rules

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News conference - Rafael Nadal

World number one Rafael Nadal says new drug-testing procedures in tennis make players "feel like a criminal".

Players are required to report their whereabouts for at least one hour a day, seven days a week, to their national anti-doping organisation.

Testers arrive unannounced and should a player fail to meet with them on three separate occasions over an 18-month period, a suspension could follow.

"It's not fair to have persecution like that," said the six-time major winner.

"They make you feel like a criminal. Not even my mother knows where I am every day.

"I am the first one who wants fair competition, completely clean competition for everybody.

Some will say 'that's a bit tough'. But do you want cheats or not?

Wada chief David Howman

"But it is very difficult to know where you want to be tomorrow, especially in a sport like tennis.

"We want to be an Olympic sport, but we don't want to pay a price like this for being an Olympic sport."

Last week, British number one Andy Murray called the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) so-called "whereabouts" procedures, introduced this year, "draconian".

And the Professional Players Federation (PPF), an umbrella group of professional player associations in the UK, said Wada's out-of-competition testing was becoming a "fiasco", a claim Wada strongly rejected.

Wada director general David Howman told BBC Sport: "Some will say 'that's a bit tough'. But then you are back to that basic question - do you want cheats or not?"

On the opening day of this week's ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Nadal and Murray, along with at least four other players, underwent drug tests. For Murray it was his third in just over two weeks.

Although the system has been in place for several years, the most recent guidelines have proved controversial for the greater demands they make on those being tested.

As well as specifying that athletes must be available for seven rather than five days a week, according to Wada's 2009 code, the times of day between which they can specify their location have also been restricted.

UK Sport, however, has given its backing to the new measures.

"While I do have some sympathy for the fairly small number of athletes who are required to meet these requirements, I would think that it's a small price to pay for clean athletes to help us drive cheats out of sport," said director of Drug-Free Sport Andy Parkinson.

However, 65 Belgian sportsmen and women have launched a legal challenge claiming that the intrusive nature of the Wada code breaks European Union privacy laws.

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see also
Nadal grinds out Rotterdam win
11 Feb 09 |  Tennis
Wada hits back in doping rule row
06 Feb 09 |  Olympics
Anger grows over anti-doping code
04 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
New UK anti-doping body confirmed
04 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Legal threat to anti-doping code
22 Jan 09 |  Sport Homepage
Women's tennis to unify testing
04 Sep 06 |  Tennis


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