'Be tough on drug cheats'

2001-06-24 20:28

London - Wimbledon ninth seed Nathalie Tauziat has called for the introduction of tougher measures to stop women's tennis being blighted by drugs cheats.

"I won't name individuals, but it's clear that doping exists in tennis and needs to be stopped," Tauziat said on the eve of the grasscourt Grand Slam tournament in an interview with the Independent on Sunday.

"I have no hard evidence, but all I will say is that you don't have to have a degree in medicine to see that some of the players have transformed themselves almost overnight," the 33-year-old Frenchwoman added.

"It's time people stopped taking us for a bunch of fools.

"I don't care how much training or gym work you do, there is no way anyone can suddenly become stronger and faster in the space of a couple of months.

"How is it that some girls disappear for a few weeks and then return looking totally different?"

Tauziat said tougher action was needed from the WTA Tour to root out the cheats.

Currently, random tests are carried out at some events in the men's and women's game, although only a handful of positive results have been discovered.

The International Tennis Federation, which controls Grand Slam events and the Davis Cup team competition, has also just launched a campaign to discourage the use of steroids by players.

"I think the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) should introduce random drug-testing at every tournament," Tauziat said.

"We also need more blood-testing if we are to get to the bottom of this growing problem.

"I'm particularly concerned for the younger players.

"They're often the victims of unscrupulous people who try to sell products which allow them to recuperate more quickly.

"It must stop."