Patrick Mouratoglou, who coaches Serena Williams, tells The Tennis Space: “Tennis doesn’t have a drugs problem.”
How big a problem is drugs in tennis?
I don’t believe there are drugs in tennis. I mean, there are cheats everywhere in the world but for me it’s very rare in tennis and I can explain it for one reason. Cycling and running are performance sports. The only thing that counts is the physical performance, so the added value of drugs is unbelievable. In tennis, the physical performance is one of about 20 parameters that make a player good. You can have a player that’s ranked 200 in the world and (even) if he took drugs and he improved 100 percent physically, he could have the same results. This could happen. It’s not that drugs would not help, probably they would, but not enough to take the risk, from my point of view, for most players. It’s a sport of ability, of technical, of tactical, of mental, skills.
But surely drugs help you to recover quicker and train harder?
Yes but if you look at the physical (nature) of the players. (Roger) Federer – he’s an exception of course – but there are many others (with the same physique) as him. Most of the players are not at all impressive, physically.
Wouldn’t drugs also help with endurance?
It counts. But again, there are many other ways to recover better. First of all, how you play, if you use a lot of energy or not playing, if you are fluid. Rafa (Nadal) uses unbelievable energy, but Federer does not use half of what Rafa uses. Even (Novak) Djokovic, I’m not surprised he recovers so well. First of all he has the perfect body for tennis, not one kilogramme of fat. Not too heavy muscles, which is very important and the body is unbelievably flexible and his body is very well balanced and if you look at the way he plays, he doesn’t use too much energy. He’s close to the baseline, so he runs much less. You look how much he runs compared to the others. All those things have to be taken into account in terms of recovery.
What about the efficiency of the testing process?
I cannot say because I am not a specialist. I can’t say how important a blood test is compared to a urine one. They have so many – but it’s true that there are not so many blood tests. So if you can cheat because the urine test does not give enough information then obviously we should have many more blood tests. It’s important to have very many controls.
In grand slams are players generally tested only when they lose?
Yes, only when they lose. If you took something, you can still see it at the end (of the tournament). They choose the players randomly. For example, in Mauritius (where a group of players including Serena Williams trained before Christmas) the players were tested. And at the (Mouratoglou) Academy (near Paris) there are often people coming asking for this player or that one. But I don’t know again if the tests give you enough information.