Australian Open

Djokovic: Lance must 'suffer'

2013-01-18 10:13
Lance Armstrong (File)

Melbourne - World No 1 Novak Djokovic said Lance Armstrong should "suffer for his lies" after finally admitting doping on Friday, as top players insisted tennis was a clean sport with adequate testing.

Djokovic, speaking after Armstrong confessed to cheating his way to his seven Tour de France victories, said the American's behaviour reflected badly on all athletes and should be punished.

"I think it's a disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this," Djokovic said at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

VIDEO: Lance Armstrong confesses to doping

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"He cheated the sport. He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story. I think they should take all his titles away because it's not fair towards any sportsman, any athlete.

"It's just not the way to be successful. So I think he should suffer for his lies all these years."

Djokovic also supported tennis's current anti-doping regime, which relies heavily on urine rather than blood tests, which are more accurate, despite fears it is not stringent enough.

"The results are showing that. In the last few years there maybe has been one or two cases, but those players were more or less outside of the top 100," said the Serb.

"We are keeping this sport clean. We are working towards it. There is awareness with the players and with the officials. As long as it is like that, we are in a good road."

Former Belgian player Christophe Rochus this week voiced concerns about possible doping in tennis, even raising unsubstantiated suspicions about 11-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal.

Armstrong, who evaded cycling's testing authorities for years, finally admitted his clean image was "one big lie" in an interview aired on American television on Friday.

Tennis currently has a "whereabouts" system where players must tell authorities where they will be for one hour every day of the year. But Djokovic said he had not had a blood test in the past "six, seven months".

"Yeah, I wasn't tested with blood for last six, seven months. It was more regularly in last two, three years ago. I don't know the reason why they stopped it," he said.

"As I said, I mean, as long as it's fair, it's clean, we're trying to protect the identity of this sport. I believe tennis players are one of the most cleanest athletes in the world and one of the most competitive sports.

"So as long as we keep it that way, I have no complaints about testing."

This week France's Julien Benneteau also said it was "impossible" that Nadal had used drugs, while US Open champion Andy Murray said tennis players simply trained hard to be fit for their sport.

"Anyone can see the amount of hours of training and practice that go into what we do and there are other sports that, endurance-wise, are far more challenging than tennis," Murray told British media.

"No, the guys can't just play five or six hours and then come back the next day and run around like rabbits. When guys play five or six hours in the Slams like we often do, we have a day's rest.

Maria Sharapova, the four-time major-winner and world number two, called the Armstrong saga "just a really sad story, sad for that sport itself".

"I'm happy that our sport is as clean as it can be and that we're constantly tested," said Sharapova, who added that she was once tested on her birthday.

"So as long as we're getting tested, whatever it takes, urine, blood, we're all here to make the sport as clean as it can be."

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