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Martin Rogers

The Monday Slice: Nadal and Murray must back drug policy

Busted Racquet

FIRST SERVE

Tennis has its own A-Rod and now it has its own drug controversy. too.

The leading players on the men’s tour are not prepared to let their dissatisfaction with the ATP’s new drug testing policy lie, with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray speaking out vociferously in Rotterdam last week.

Both men claimed the regulations, which insist that players inform testers of their whereabouts for one hour every day, place unreasonable demands upon them.

Nadal has admitted he normally submits a time period early in the morning, when he is in bed, as it may be the only part of the day when he can be certain of his location.

Clearly, the top players feel they enjoy the upper hand in the power struggle with the ATP just now due to the strength of the men’s game and they want to push for an easier ride.

However, while Nadal and Murray are arguably the two most exciting performers on the planet, their stance on this issue is misplaced.

Rather than bleating about the inconvenience of the testing, they should be pleased that such a system is in place, as they are the biggest beneficiaries.

Both players have put in thousands of hours of physical graft to put themselves in the best possible condition. A policy that ensures steroid cheats are likely to be caught if they transgress the rules works in their favor.

Tennis is a sport relatively untainted by the specter of drug cheating and a stringent testing policy is the best way to keep it clean.

That comes with a personal price for the leading players in the world, but the overall benefit to the game from which they make their living is a wider and more important consideration.

UNFORCED ERROR

Dubai’s position as a future hotbed of professional tennis has effectively been stripped away this week, after the United Arab Emirates government refused to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer.

Peer was due to compete in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, but was denied entry as the UAE does not have political relations with Israel.

Just a few weeks ago, Dubai was being spoken about as a potential Grand Slam destination, if the Australian Open becomes a revolving Asian Slam. Forget about that now. The WTA is seriously considering stripping Dubai of its tour status for next year, a bitter blow to a region determined to increase its sporting profile.

Peer, 21 years old and a popular figure on the circuit, has had to put up with far too much nonsense on account of her nationality.

She was targeted for protest at a recent event in New Zealand and the Dubai situation will only draw extra unwanted attention.

However, props are due to the many women players, led by an uncharacteristically outspoken Venus Williams, who have been swift to support Peer publicly.

USE YOUR FREQUENT FLYER POINTS

If Shahar Peer can’t go to Dubai, we’re not either. Memphis is the place to be this week anyway, with the men’s and women’s tours coming together for a dual event in M-Town.

CLEAN WINNER

Keep an eye on Grigor Dimitrov this year. The Bulgarian teenager made the most of his Rotterdam wildcard, beating Tomas Berdych before giving Rafael Nadal a scare in three sets. Dimitrov has long been touted as one for the future – but the future might not be too far away.

Last week’s winners:

SAP Open, San Jose – Radek Stepanek
Brazil Open, Costa Do Sauipe – Tommy Robredo
ABN AMRO World Tennis, Rotterdam – Andy Murray
Pattaya Open – Vera Zvonareva
Open GDF Suez – Amelie Mauresmo

This week’s predictions:
Copa Telmex, Buenos Aires – Eduardo Schwank
Regions Morgan Keenan Championships, Memphis – Andy Roddick
Open 13, Marseille – Gael Monfils
Barclays Tennis Championships, Dubai – Jelena Jankovic
Cellular South Cup, Memphis – Lucie Safarova
Copa Sony Ericsson Colsanitas, Bogota – Carla Suarez Navarro

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