WTA claims steroids not an issue

GEORGE GROSS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Bulging biceps have not been overly noticeable on the women competing in this year's Rogers Cup event at the Rexall Centre.

There are instances of bulging quadriceps, lats and bulging fore-arms.

The reason for this medical introduction is, of course, the widespread use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in today's world of sports.

Tennis, I'm glad to say, is almost lilly white. At least according to the Women's Tennis Association.

The word comes from David Shoemaker, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of the Women's Tennis Association. The 36-year-old, Ottawa-born proud Canadian who graduated from the University of Toronto before sparkling as a student at the University of Western Ontario Law School in London, spoke without hesitation when asked about doping infractions in women's tennis.

"The tennis war against doping began in the early 1990s," he said.

"It was more rudimentary in those days, but now it is handled by the International Doping Test Management company of Sweden, a sampler accredited by the World Anti Doping Agency in Montreal. It looks not only after testing the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, but also the ATP players and the International Tennis Federation.

"Two of the early cases would not be considered offences today, but the other two resulted in suspensions. Spain's Lourdes Dominguez-Lino was suspended for three months in 2002 for use of cocaine.

Bulgaria's Sesil Karantcheva is still serving a two-year suspension for the use of anabolic steroids. But you can consider tennis as a pretty clean sport."

Shoemaker's position is certainly strengthened by the "Doping Testing-No Admittance" sign I found on a door at the Rexall Centre.

Shoemaker, who is passionate for tennis and serves also as chief legal officer, is only one half of the Canadian tandem running the WTA operation.

The other is Stacey Allaster, president of the WTA and former tournament director of the Rogers Cup. Shoemaker refers to them as the Canadian mixed doubles team.

What about his recent trip to China?

"I was really impressed by the Olympic tennis facility in Beijing," he enthused. "I believe it is the finest tennis facility ever built."

I'm wondering whether the doping control in Beijing will be up to snuff and whether tennis cases of drug cheating will surface.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Anna Kournikova, the resident of Miami, flew from Toronto to Graz, Austria for a one match exhibition. Obviously, these one-day sojourns to Europe are paying for the groceries ... Andrew Walker, vice-president of communications for the WTA, is very proud of the fact that WTA drug testing is taking place in and out of competition ... Dr. Rob Gordon of Toronto is still looking after the medical needs of the ATP side of tournaments in Toronto...Away from tennis, Angelo D'Amico, son of the late NHL linesman John D'Amico, is busy setting up the launch of the John D'Amico Fund. He calls it "hustleforacure". The official launch is set for Aug. 23 at the Hockey Hall of Fame.


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