Melbourne: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and other leading tennis players calling for increased blood testing in tennis could get their wish in 2013 with the introduction of athlete biological passports to the sport. In the aftermath of Lance Armstrong's admission last week that he was on drugs when he won each of his seven Tour de France titles, several top players at the Australian Open have revealed that they have received relatively few blood tests.
World number one Djokovic said last week that he had not been blood tested "in six or seven months".
The biological passport is a method of monitoring selected biological parameters over time, rather than trying to detect individual substances, and was considered one of the main reasons for the success in catching cheats in cycling.
"We're looking very, very closely at it and I think there's a reasonably good chance that will be operational probably towards the end of 2013," Dr Stuart Miller, the head of the International Tennis Federation (ITF)'s anti-doping effort, told BBC radio.
In 2011, the most recent set of figures available, the ITF conducted only 21 blood tests out of competition and 131 in total, a figure well outweighed by urine tests, which numbered 2,019.
At the Paris Masters last October, US Open champion Murray led the calls for more blood tests in tennis, a view backed up in Melbourne by Roger Federer and Djokovic.
Blood tests are more expensive to administer than urine tests and Miller admitted that they were subject to financial constraints. The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, which operates under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code is funded by the ITF along with the men's (ATP) and women's (WTA) tours and the Grand Slams.
Yesterday, the ITF confirmed that the investment in anti-doping programme was $2 million per year.