Melbourne: Novak Djokovic has slammed Lance Armstrong’s long-delayed doping admissions, saying the seven-time Tour de France winner is a disgrace to cycling and “should suffer for his lies.”
At the same time, the No. 1-ranked man in tennis says the drug testing programme in his sport is “good” but concedes that for the last six months he hasn’t had a blood test in the anti-doping programme.
Djokovic advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open on Friday with a straight-set win over Radek Stepanek, but most of his post-match news conference was devoted to comment on Armstrong’s doping admissions in a US television interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“I think it’s a disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this,” Djokovic said. “It would be ridiculous for him to decline and refuse all the charges because it has been proven. He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story.”
The Armstrong doping saga also raised questions over drug testing in tennis, and Djokovic said he supported the International Tennis Federation’s current programme.
“At least from my perspective, it’s really good,” he said, outlining the current regime where tennis players have to give anti-doping authorities details of their whereabouts each day, in case they’re required for out-of-competition testing.
“It gives them an opportunity to test you. And you know it is the same for the other players,” he said. “At least from that point of view it’s fair. And I have nothing against, you know, the anti-doping federation, association, testing me 10, 20, 30 times a year.”
Having said that, Djokovic admitted blood tests which can detect the presence of EPO, a known oxygen booster in the blood which could help a tennis player cope better in long rallies and extended matches, have been a rarity for him lately.
He was asked to respond to reports that ITF records show that in 2011, only 18 blood tests were taken of the top players. (agencies)