Roger Federer wants doping crackdown in wake of Maria Sharapova failing test

Roger Federer

Roger Federer has urged the tennis authorities to implement a doping crackdown in the wake of Maria Sharapova failing a drug test.

Federer revealed before his return to action from knee surgery here at the Miami Open that, when residing in Dubai where he owns a property and spends about two months a year, he has been tested only once in the past 10 years.

When in Europe the 34-year-old Swiss is regularly visited by the testers. However, following Sharapova’s admission of using the banned substance meldonium, Federer believes more needs to be done to avert a crisis.

“I definitely think that tennis is doing a lot better than we have in the past,” Federer said. “You could always do more testing. You could ask someone here in 50 years’ time and he’ll say we could still do more. You could be tested four times per day.

“What is the right amount and what’s not? Clearly, I was very surprised [about Sharapova]; I thought she was going to announce her retirement. But it also shows that the famous players can get caught in the system.

“It seems to be working. I still believe we should keep blood samples for 10 years, so athletes and tennis players know that’s the case, that you could get punished retroactively. I’m a big believer in that.

“I’ve been in Dubai for 10 years now and I’ve been tested once in 10 years – that’s not OK for me. I get tested more in Switzerland because a tester lives in my village. He comes and sees me the day after my surgery and a week later.

“In Dubai they’ve come once because of the Asian games. I’d like it to be the same way and fair. Tennis is doing more and more. It was disappointing to say the least.”

Asked if there was a drug problem in tennis, Federer said: “I don’t think so. Maybe I am naive in the fact that I believe athletes, I trust what they are doing. Clearly, when they get caught you turn because you are like: ‘I can’t believe that they tried to do that.’

“I don’t think there is a major problem, all I can talk about is myself. I quadruple check anything I take. I don’t want to take any chances whatsoever.”

Federer, who revealed the knee surgery he underwent last month was required because of an injury sustained while preparing a bath for his twin daughters, also added his voice to the furore surrounding equal pay in tennis.

“It depends on what tournaments we are talking about,” he said. “I think we have got to be very specific about what we are talking about. I’m all for equal prize money. When I was fighting for prize-money increases, especially at the slam level, I was always very aware of the fact that it was always going to impact the women’s game, which I was very happy about both at the same time were growing.

“But then you have to look at the history of each and every event, where it comes from, where a certain tournament was maybe a men’s tournament before or maybe they joined later, or vice versa, so it’s sometimes not easy to make equal prize money there.

“It’s really up to the tournament director to decide if he wants it to be that way. For sure, you could imagine something like that. I’m glad that tennis has produced some of the best female athletes in the world. Equal prize money is a good thing.”

Federer plays Juan Martin del Potro on Friday in the second round of the Miami Open – the world No3’s first tournament appearance since injuring his left knee following his Australian Open defeat by Novak Djokovic in January. He had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus and clarified the cause of the problem on the eve of his return.

“It happened the day after the Djokovic match,” said the 17-times grand slam champion. “I woke up, I don’t know exactly remember what happened. I think I was going to run a bath for the girls. I made a very simple movement, turned back, heard a click in my knee. I went to the zoo. My leg was swollen.

“I came back and had an MRI done in Switzerland. Saw a doctor right after the MRI. He said I had to have surgery on Tuesday. I did that in Switzerland. Here I am seven weeks and two days later.

“I’m very happy how it went but clearly that was very sad when I did get the news I did have to have an operation because I thought I was going to get through my career without any. It was a big shock and, yeah, disappointing.”

Powered by article was written by Steve Brenner in Miami and Press Association, for The Guardian on Friday 25th March 2016 00.04 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010