Australian Open players’ call for exemption to anti-doping policy rejected

Sports governing bodies have rejected demand from Australian players for exceptions to stringent anti-doping rules for entry to the US$8.2m Australian Open.

The world No19, Daria Gavrilova, and Women’s Open finalist, Ashleigh Barty, led a complaint last week over the Australian Open’s refusal to provide an exemption to enter the tournament as an unvaccinated player.

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The Open said its policy is based on Australian sport’s anti-doping regime, which doesn’t accept exceptions for the induction of new athletes. Players have the option of attending educational seminars, which Gavrilova and Barty say won’t be enough to educate players about the risks of the prevention of diseases.

John Fitzgerald, the general manager of the tennis section of the Australian Tennis Association, said the organisation was maintaining a strict compliance with anti-doping rules.

“Like every other national sport, tennis is governed by Wada and its anti-doping rules,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “All Australian athletes must, and the Wada regulations require that they do, fully comply with the Wada rules by providing details of their medical history to the anti-doping tribunal.

“Tennis’ anti-doping rules allow for exemptions for those medical issues such as allergies, but that is beyond the purview of the Wada authorities.”

Barty said she understood the position of the tennis authorities but the players were concerned.

“When you’re so close to it,” Barty said. “You know what’s going on, you feel safe … I don’t think a lot of us realise how serious the serious cases are until you get to this stage.”

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