The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) came out in Novak Djokovic’s support after it was reported that the 36-year-old refused to take a dope test before his Davis Cup match against Italy.
Several media outlets reported that Djokovic didn’t comply with the rules. However, the ITIA confirmed in a statement published in France’s top news source L'Equipe that the players at the Davis Cup last year had a choice to submit their blood samples either before or after the match.
"The first thing to say is that Djokovic did not refuse the test. The rules state that when a player is notified, they must provide a sample as soon as they can,” the ITIA confirmed.
“In team competitions such as the Davis Cup, players may be informed before a match, whereas in other competitions testing usually takes place after the match. The procedure has not been changed, either for this event or for the player.”
The regulating body further confirmed that it is the player’s choice to do it either before or after a match.
“In Davis Cup, teams are notified before the start of the match. This allows players to choose if they prefer to do it before their match, otherwise, it will be after, a member of the organisation told us. They have a choice. Some players prefer to do it before, it frees them up after the meeting, which is also not bad, they avoid staying on site too long after the end of a meeting.”
It must be noted that Djokovic expressed frustration after he was asked to take a urine test just 90 minutes before his singles match in the semi-final of the Davis Cup.
“It’s the first time it’s happened to me. It doesn’t make sense to do it when I’ll be there after the match. They gave me an hour and a half’s notice. I have my pre-match routines and I don’t have to think at that point about donating blood or urine,” Djokovic said.
“I argued with him because that hasn’t happened to me in my 20-year career. He sat in a corner and followed me for hours. It was outrageous. I’ve always defended controls, but not before matches. There’s nothing to hide, but there have to be certain limits.”