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Tennis players shun Spanish doctor
PARIS (AP) - The owner of a leading tennis academy in Spain that trained some of the sport’s stars says its players have stopped working with a doctor banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for helping riders on Lance Armstrong’s cycling team dope.
That overlaps with del Moral’s work for the U.S. Postal Service cycling team. The USADA says del Moral helped to implement a “team-wide doping program” as a doctor for USPS from 1999-2003, when Armstrong won the first five of seven Tour de France titles that have been stripped from him for doping.
Replying by email to questions from the AP, Alvarino said “many of our players” consulted del Moral for preseason blood tests, strength tests and for injuries. He said TenisVal used the information to tailor specific training programs for each player.
Players paid the doctor’s clinic directly, Alvarino said, adding that TenisVal coaches always accompanied players on visits to del Moral. TenisVal and del Moral’s clinic are both in Valencia, on Spain’s east coast.
“Dr. Del Moral has been always a very important personality in sports medicine in Valencia and he has worked with many sports people and sports teams from many countries, as everybody knows,” wrote Alvarino, a former player, and captain of Spain’s first Fed Cup-winning team, in 1991.
Sara Errani of Italy, the losing finalist in women’s singles at the 2012 French Open, said in September that del Moral “was the best doctor in Valencia for everything, so I have been working with him, of course.”
Errani added she would no longer consult him because “his name is not (a) good name.”
Former top-ranked woman Dinara Safina of Russia also consulted del Moral when she was at TenisVal. Russian website Sport Express last month quoted Safina as saying del Moral “has the only real clinic in Valencia where athletes can undergo tests before the beginning of the season and at the end. And we underwent the tests in this clinic. We ran on the treadmill, they took blood samples from our ears, and so on.”
“Del Moral gave us no advice whatsoever and did not handle our cases,” Sport Express quoted Safina as saying. “I have nothing to be afraid of. I’m clean.”
The ITF “interviewed Sara Errani, among others,” Miller told the AP. Citing confidentiality requirements, he wouldn’t reveal details of the investigation or say if the ITF determined whether del Moral helped players to dope.
By John R. Bolton
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