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ITTF determined to find solution to 'bat doping'

It looks as if the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has still to find a cheap and reliable solution to bat doping.

Last month, German former world No. 1 Timo Boll alleged that some 80 per cent of the international players are playing with bats that do not conform to ITTF rules, which stipulate that rackets must be "without any physical, chemical or other treatment, changing or modifying playing properties, friction, outlook, colour, structure, surface, etc".

He alleged that the rubber on the bats are treated with chemicals, thought to be a kind of glue, which will increase the power and spin of a player's shot.

Reports in Germany two weeks ago raised hopes of a solution, after a university chemistry professor developed a method to combat bat doping.

READY FOR RIO

At the time, it was thought that a decision could be reached here at the ongoing World Team Table Tennis Championships to implement a test as soon as the Rio Olympics this August.

But, at a media conference after the ITTF annual general meeting yesterday, president Thomas Weikert said a cheap and good solution is still some way off.

"One professor in Germany has said he has a new test method; I have had a lot of e-mails (on this) and I gave them to our equipment committee to analyse," he said.

"Also, it was only an idea this professor has tested and he has realised that it's not so easy."

He revealed that the matter was not discussed at the AGM, but will be raised in a meeting with the board of directors this week, while a meeting with bat manufacturers is also planned over the next 
few days.

Several English-language publications have quoted Weikert refuting Boll's allegations, insisting that the ITTF has "comprehensive" testing systems to ensure a level playing field, but the German said yesterday that he was misquoted.

Weikert said: "The fact is that at the moment there is no testing method to detect serious cases of tuning and boosting bats.

"If we want to test it, we need a method that is secure... and we'd have to find a system of when the players should tear the rubber off their bats for testing.

"But I am open; we must have the best result and that must be that every player has that same, equal equipment; that nobody is complaining that one bat is much better than the other."

- LIM SAY HENG

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