Friday, August 29, 2014

Miles to go....

An interesting piece in Newsday:
"STATS, a technology and data company using a system it calls SportVU, has done motion tracking of athletes in primary professional sports and concluded that only soccer players log more mileage in competition than tennis players.

"According to SportVU, a soccer player runs as far as 9.5 miles during a game. Tennis players cover from three to five miles in a five-set match, NBA players almost three miles, football players about 1.25 miles and baseball players around 100 yards."
That's a pretty interesting finding. What makes it more interesting is that Stuart Miller, the anti-doping manager for the International Tennis Federation, had this to say about tennis and stamina in 2009:
"It may be that tennis is not conducive to EPO. Maybe tennis is not a sport that is driven by a need to maximize stamina, which is what EPO essentially does."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tennis anti-doping budget on the rise

The ITF's agenda for it's 2014 annual general meeting has been posted.

There are a couple of interesting bits of information. First, there is a significant ramp in the anti-doping budget from 2013 through 2016. In 2013, the actual spend was $2 million. In 2014, the anti-doping budget is planned at $2.6. It hits $3 million in 2015 and $3.1 by 2016. This planned spending represents an increase of over 50 percent. (See the budget tables on page 12.)

Hopefully, the increase in budget is spent on designing and executing an effective and intelligent anti-doping program.

The other bits from anti-doping are the following (on page 152):
The number of samples collected under the Programme in 2013 rose by 26% compared to 2012, and a further increase is anticipated in 2014. (See figure 1). Following its introduction into the Programme in 2013, around 350 Athlete Biological Passport blood samples have been collected in 2014 at the time of writing. The total of 2,185 samples collected under the TADP in 2013 represents about two thirds of all samples collected from tennis players by all anti-doping agencies...

A total of 48 Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) were granted under the TADP in 2013. The average time from receipt of a complete TUE application to a decision by the TUE Committee was again under 3 days, which is believed to be the shortest of any anti-doping organisation.

The 2014 Programme is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Testing under the 2014 TADP is ongoing, and at the time of writing, over 1,000 samples have been collected from around 40 events, including Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Grand Slams, ATP Tour and WTA Tour and Professional Circuits.
I have to say that I'm not sure having the shortest time for TUE decisions is something to be proud of. How closely is the ITF looking at the applications?


An additional point I'd make is that the ITF came in $208,000 over-budget for anti-doping spending for 2013 (budget of $1,848M v. actual $2,056). The extra-expenditure is described as being caused by "legal costs required for the cases which came up in the year." (page 7) This result is significantly different from the four previous years of underspend, where costs were typically stated to be "lower than expected due to fewer positive cases."

So, what exactly happened on legals costs in 2013 that was so different from previous years?

2012: $180K under
Budget: 1,597M
Actual: 1,417M

2011: $288K under
Budget: $1,601M
Actual: $1,313M

2010: $301K under
Budget: $1,578M
Actual: $1,277M

2009: $122K under
Budget: $1,548M
Actual: $1,426M

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brad Mousley: 1-year ban for ecstasy (and yet another mystery withdrawal explained)

Australian junior tennis player Brad Mousley has been banned for a year for taking an ecstasy tablet.

ASADA (not ITF) test at Futures event at Melbourne Park on March 30, 2014.

Mousley accepted a provisional suspension on May 30, 2014.

Ban made public on August 20, 2014 (backdated to May 30, 2014).

It is of interest that on May 30, consistent with his acceptance of a provisional suspension, Mousley withdrew from his semi-final match at the Astrid Bowl in Belgium. Of course, no mention of the suspension was made to explain his withdrawal.

Again, and similar to cases like Marin Cilic and Robert Kendrick, Mousley's case raises the issue of reasons for a player withdrawing from tournaments.

To refresh your memory of previous cases, the Cilic Decision stated that:

"He [Cilic] played and won his first round match at Wimbledon on 24 June. He has not played in a competitive match since. On 26 June his lawyers in Brussels responded on his behalf, voluntarily accepting a provisional suspension until a decision in the case, and waiving his right to analysis of the B sample. He withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a knee injury to avoid adverse publicity."
In the case of Kendrick, the decision stated: "[Kendrick] accepted a voluntary suspension from competition (with effect from 17 June 2011), thereby foregoing participation in the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon."

Because of the lack of transparency in tennis anti-doping policies, it is impossible to tell whether withdrawals (or any prolonged absence from the tour) are caused by legitimate injuries or provisional anti-doping suspensions. The sole exception is when the player is found guilty of a violation and the information is made public (if the player is found not guilty they would simply return to the tour with (or without) any (fabricated) explanation).

As a result, every withdrawal and absence is open to question. What are fans and the media to make from sudden withdrawals, followed by a prolonged absence from the tour where a player offers a vague, open-ended, or no explanation at all? The only way to solve this problem is to publicly announce all provisional suspensions at the time the provisional suspension begins.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Just in Time for the US Open: Biogenesis & Odesnik

Courtesy of Jon Wertheim:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bradley Mousley

An interesting anti-doping case involving a top Australian junior tennis player has been leaked. Read the story here.

The drug in question is ecstasy, but the timelines are more important:

1. Tested positive from a sample collected on March 30, 2014.

2. (Provisional) suspension started in May. The story doesn't actually specify a provisional suspensions, but that's really the only option prior to a Tribunal decision. He missed the junior French Open and Wimbledon as a result.

3. Tribunal hearing set for August 4, 2014.

I haven't been able to find any stories on whether he claimed an injury for pulling out of the junior Grand Slam tournament. If anyone finds any, please let us know

Monday, July 28, 2014

Paul Kimmage: "But f***ing tennis..."

An interview with Paul Kimmage from the Irish Post:
“Possibly, and this may sound ridiculous, cycling is one of the cleanest sports left because the controls are full on. But f***ing tennis, I find it nauseating to watch it on TV to see the McEnroes and all the commentators engage in this big love-in. And the bottom line is we are all getting rich here folks, lets not upset the apple-cart.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

2013 WADA Anti-Doping Testing Figures Report

Released a few days ago:
In accordance with Article 14.5 of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code), WADA, acting as a central clearinghouse for Doping Control data, annually publishes statistical reports as reported by the WADA accredited laboratories in the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS).
The 2013 WADA Anti-Doping Testing Figures Report is represented in four separate reports, namely Laboratory Report, Sport Report, Testing Authority Report and ABP Report-Blood Analysis, and includes analyses by WADA accredited laboratories (in 2013) for in- and out-of-competition Urine, Blood and Blood Passport testing.
Of note:

1. Table 2 of the "Testing Authority Report" (TAR) shows that, in 2013, ITF testing resulted in 2 Atypical Findings and 12 Adverse Analytical Findings. By my count, in 2013, the ITF issued 6 anti-doping violations based on its testing program (2 additional violations came from national anti-doping bodies). This leaves 6 ITF testing adverse findings unaccounted (potential reasons for the difference are the hearing is still ongoing, athlete was exonerated, or athlete had a valid therapeutic use exemption).

2. Table 12 of the TAR shows that the ITF conducted 101 Gas Chromatograph/Carbon/Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (e.g."IRMS") tests (i.e., synthetic testosterone). The samples were split 94 in-competition samples and 7 out-of-competition samples. No adverse or atypical findings.

3. Table 13 of the TAR shows the ITF conducted 123 EPO tests (112 in-comp; 11 out-of-comp). No adverse or atypical findings.

4. Table 14 of the TAR: ITF conducted 139 hGH tests (170 in-comp; 69 out-of-comp). No adverse or atypical findings.

5. Table 47 of the TAR: Shows all tests for tennis across all anti-doping authorities. The ITF conducted 73.7% of all tennis anti-doping controls.

6. Table 41 of the ABP Report: Shows blood passport testing figures for tennis. The ITF collected 263 samples (96 in-comp; 167 out-of-comp). An additional 38 passport samples were collected by other anti-doping agencies for a grand total of 301.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Paul Kimmage

In an interesting article on doping, Paul Kimmage notes a recent encounter he had with a former tennis player:
Two weeks ago, at a friend's wedding in Wicklow, I bumped into a former tennis player who would have spent the whole night talking about doping in cycling. But when I suggested his sport was possibly as bad he didn't want to know. There was nothing I could say . . . The ITF's indifference to testing; The top players' miraculous recovery rates; The cover-up of Andre Agassi's positive for methamphetamine in 1997; The association of Luis Del Moral - the Valencia-based doctor who had worked with Armstrong - with the sport; . . . to convince him.

And can you blame him? We've had wall-to-wall coverage of Wimbledon for two weeks now, and some curious games, but not once has the issue of doping been raised. Is there something inherently decent about tennis players?

Indeed. We've seen the exact same attitude from most of the tennis press.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In the news (Updated)

Some bits and pieces from the news:

"Exclusive Excerpt: How MLB let A-Rod use PEDs during '07 season"

"Chris Evert's and Pam Shriver's comments on Serena's incident"

"Martina Navratilova isn't buying Serena Williams' excuse for bizarre on-court behavior"

"Mystery of Serena Williams' Wimbledon meltdown deepens... with doubts cast over her 'viral illness' explanation"

Update: There been some comments about TUEs in tennis. I've posted about this previously, noting that in 2012, according to the ITF:
"A total of 38 Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) were granted under the TADP in 2012. The average time from receipt of a complete TUE application to a decision by the TUE Committee was 2.6 days."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Wimbledon Redemption...?

I was wondering if anyone in the tennis press would tackle this question...

Steve Tignor's take on a couple of players who are into the 2nd week of Wimbledon.

Let's say this involved 2 baseball players, or 2 cyclists: How would the tone of the piece be different?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

USADA Anti-Doping Stats: Q1 2014

Here they are. All the tests were out-of-competition:

11 Athletes Selected
22 Total Tests

Athlete Name
Test Count

Robert C Bryan

Jamie Hampton

John Isner

Madison Keys

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Christina M McHale

Wayne Odesnik

Sam Querrey

Sloane Stephens

Serena J Williams

Venus E Williams

Monday, June 9, 2014

Off The Ball

The Irish sports radio show Off The Ball talked tennis tonight, including some discussion about the anti-doping program.

Part 1: Listen starting at 53:15.

Part 2: The first 3 minutes.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Do the math

From the Roland Garros website:
The fight against drugs 
Drug-testing is carried out under the auspices of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
At the 2013 French Open, almost 200 tests were carried out on players entered in the men's and women's singles and doubles main draws as well as the qualifiers and the juniors' tournaments.
Special areas dedicated to testing are located in the players' zone near to the locker-rooms.
About 200 tests covering how many players across how many draws?