Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Safe supplements for women's tour

Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 21:48 GMT 22:48 UK

Image: BBC Sport

Justin Henin-Hardenne has welcomed the news

Female tennis players will soon be able to take vitamins and supplements without fear of failing a drugs test.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has signed a deal with Usana Health Sciences Inc to supply the tour with products guaranteed to be safe.

Since a spate of positive tests blamed on contaminated supplements tennis pros have been wary of taking them.

Justine Henin-Hardenne said: "I want to make sure whatever I put in my body is free of prohibited substances."

The French Open champion added: "Any assurances that players are able to receive from vitamin companies that their products are pure is really great."

Usana is a leading global vitamin and health supplement manufacturer.

It will guarantee that the products it supplies to the WTA Tour will not contain any substances which will fall foul of the World Anti-Doping Authority (Wada).

Each player who participates in the programme will be eligible to sign an "athlete guarantee agreement" with Usana.

Under the agreement the manufacturer will pay the player twice her prize money earnings from the prior year, up to $1m (£530,000), should the player test positive for a substance prohibited by Wada because of using a Usana product.

"This is fantastic news for players," said WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott.

"Up until now, the inability of our players to take vitamins and health supplements without fear of accidentally ingesting a prohibited substance has been a real issue."

Nutritional supplements tested by a Wada-accredited laboratory and approved by men's tennis body the ATP have been available to male professionals since the beginning of 2005.

Read the Press Release here.