"Tennis still does not conduct many tests for EPO. In 2008, the tennis federation conducted 20 tests for EPO in competition and 32 such tests out of competition. Those numbers appear low, [the ITF's Stuart] Miller said, because the tests are conducted only if blood screening indicates a player may be using the drug." (emphasis mine)This is a rare piece of disclosure by the ITF. After all, when I asked them about EPO testing they revealed nothing, stating that the test distribution plan for EPO was "confidential." However, the 2009 NYT piece gives us an unambiguous statement on testing protocol.
In my view, this disclosure helps explains the decrease in EPO tests in both 2008 and 2009 because over the same period there was a decrease in blood tests (and, more importantly, there were no out-of-competition blood tests in both 2008 and 2009). If EPO tests are triggered only by blood screenings, and fewer blood tests are conducted, is it any surprise that the number of EPO tests declined?
In addition, I went back to the 2008 data and picked out the players that received an EPO test. It's quite a list. Remember, according to the ITF, the only reason these players received an EPO test would be that a blood screening indicated they may be using the drug. However, as we are all aware, no tennis player has ever been found to have committed an anti-doping violation for using EPO. Here are the 20 in-competition EPO tests:
All of this just leads to more questions: What is going on with the ITF's test distribution protocols? Why did blood testing decrease in 2008 and 2009? Why were there no out-of-competition blood tests in 2008 and 2009? Was the decline related to the number of blood screenings indicating the possibility of EPO usage? Why have no players ever been found guilty of a doping violation for EPO usage? Why did these players have blood screenings indicating they may be using the drug?
Data Source: ITF 2008 Anti-Doping Statistics