Monday, August 16, 2010

Bathroom Breaks Revisited

Anyone following this blog knows that I have cast a lot of suspicion on the so-called "bathroom breaks" that players take and then become magically rejuvenated. Apparently, this trend began back in 1983 (I vaguely recall this) when we were told by the announcers before the U.S. open final between Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, that Connors had "diarrhea" and might need to take a bathroom break. His agent from that time, Donald Dell, has come out with a new book called "Never Make the First Offer" in which he tells us what really happened. Connors had a painful blood blister on his foot and had received a pain injection before the match that was going to wear off before the match would end. The whole story was a ruse to allow him to sneak into the bathroom and get a second pain injection (Connors went on to win the match). Now, this is a prime example of something that never used to happen, now occurring so often that people think of it as normal. It is not normal for a player to run to the bathroom in the middle of a match and if a player does so, it should be considered suspicious, in my opinion.

Tennis writer Michael Mewshaw (whose book "Ladies of the Court" from back in 1991 was recently mentioned here) adds his two cents in a story called "Running Afoul of the Rules" in the Sept 2010 issue of TennisLife Magazine. Here's an Excerpt (Thanks Tennis Mom):
When rules are ignored or openly flaunted, one has to wonder what happens off court. To get back to bathroom breaks, in view of Dell’s decades-late confession about the 1983 US Open final, can one really trust that contemporary players are receiving no coaching, no treatment and no medications? When they’re out of sight, who enforces the rules? Who enforces the enforcers? And if the rules are violated now during a delay for intestinal distress, would we again have to wait a quarter of a century to find out the truth?


  1. Connors can give that trophy back. Conners and any tennis authority who let Conners cheat should have the loser's losses deducted from their pensions.
    That is the winnings plus estimated sponsor deals plus interest since 1983. White collar crime should not pay so stinkin much. All of them should be banned from working in tennis.
    Who likes rigged sports?

  2. Be interesting to see how Connors reacts to this.

  3. More interesting is that this story broke back in 2008 and nobody seems to have cared:

  4. An excerpt from the book, which was the 1983 US Open incident, was posted last year:

    Again, the lack of reaction is quite shocking.

  5. Well, you can get mad at Connors for doing it, but the fact is that tennis officials gave it the okay - even the lie about diarrhea. I doubt much has changed.

  6. Apparently, Connors didn't have a problem with Dell telling the story...

    "Before Dell published this book, he knew there was sensitive material he needed to clear with some of the subjects. The 1983 foot injections for Connors was a story that had never been publicly told, so, as Dell explains, “I called Jimmy in California even though I don’t represent him now, and I told him that I didn’t think that U.S. Open story made him look bad......I said I didn’t have to run the story but if I did I wanted him to agree with it. I told him exactly what I was going to write and he said it was fine and I should go ahead and write it. Our lawyers were very concerned about that story and wanted his approval, or it probably wouldn’t have been in the book."

    Bizarre...Guess he figured that there's nothing the ITF/ATP can do to him.....He's probably right.

  7. Connors was actually suffering from diarrhea of the mouth. Remember when he called the chair umpire an abortion? Who calls people abortions?!

  8. Nothing they can do to him without admitting that they were complicit in the whole thing.

    Makes you wonder why the ITF is so concerned about "match fixing"......

  9. Is that so outrageous? Don't players today sometimes get pain pills when they call the trainer for medical time outs?

  10. Anon 7:51,
    Players get a lot of things these days. The fact is we don't know what all they get. I think that for tennis officials to agree to let a player pretend he has diarrhea so that he sneak into the bathroom and get a pain injection is outrageous, but I'm just about out of outrage.

  11. When outrage dies, it means it's time to hang 'em up.

  12. What would the other option be for Connors if he could not play? How about all the sponsors and the public waiting for the game? Sports are like any other job. You depende of your body to make a living. And I am against doping.

  13. You mean what would the other option be besides conspiring with tennis officials to pretend you have diarrhea so that you can break a rule? It's a little disturbing to see people ask these questions. What would the other option be for Wayne Odesnik if he wants to compete at the top level other than to take performance enhancing drugs? The other options:
    Tell the public the truth, that he has a blister on his foot and is going to get a pain injection, or don't play the match at all, or play it without getting a pain injection in the middle of the match. Those would be the other options for Connors AND tennis officials.

  14. Let me add, by the way, what this story also makes clear: Bathroom breaks are a scam. And I am even more certain that many players go into the bathroom and suck on an inhaler of salbutamol or something similar.

  15. Is this why Spanish athletes are having unprecedented success in sports today ?

    The story is that in 2006, Spain accused Russians of systematic doping. Did this give Spain the incentive to start their own systematic doping system ?

    Barry Bonds excuse was "Mark McGuire did it, so I can too".

    Does the pressure when authorities fail to act cause an increase of doping over time (like in tennis today)?

  16. Here's a great example of a player who could have used a bathroom break but didn't: Pete Sampras in the 1996 US Open quarterfinals when he vomited on court and nearly passed out. That guy was tough.

  17. Perhaps bathroom breaks should be treated like a doping test: ie, the tennis player is accompanied by an official who walks them to the locker room and makes sure the player does nothing but actually use the restroom. The player can't make any phone calls, they can't go to their locker, nothing. Just go to the bathroom and that's it.

    Something must also be done about strategic injury timeouts. A player should only be allowed to receive treatments during changeovers and between sets. No injury timeouts in the middle of a game or after a game that is not before a changeover. That's it. If you can't wait until the changeover, you are not fit to play and should default.

    Both problems solved.

  18. Anon 3:31,
    You are assuming that tennis officials see it as a problem to be fixed. I think that they are quite happy to let players go to the bathroom so that they aren't using their inhalers right on the court. Beyond that, they feel they have to coddle the top players, so they never enforce rules. Up until I put this post up two days ago, people were telling me that players were being escorted to the bathroom and under constant monitoring. This was based on some misguided trust in the ITF, ATP and WTA. The fact is that these organizations are in the business of keeping things as they are. They don't want to do anything to jeopardize their paychecks. Before the recent Odesnik bust, they were calling for LESS stringent out-of-competition drug testing, because of player complaints. I'm sure that once that story dies down, they will ease restrictions (probably without informing the public) and now we know that players only need to submit to one out-of-competition drug test in a year.

  19. I've been watching some recent matches and found two so far where Nadal took a bathroom break: the marathon Aussie Open semi against Verdasco and the 2007 Wimbledon final against Federer. He does it all the time, yet the press only cared about Federer doing it one bloody time at the Aussie Open.

  20. At the US Open there are banners lining the streets. Banners with photographs of the "stars". The US Open is not a movie. The main characters can and should change out.

  21. Connors bathroom drama,
    Agassi meth bust coverup,
    Gasquet's kissing coke bust,
    Rusdeski and a bunch of other player's bust and cover up of 2002

    This is just a small list of publicly known cases where the powers that be gave their blessings to players to do their thing.
    There might be several failed tests buried under the carpet as we type.

  22. I think the biggest cover up in the last few years has been Nadal's supposed knee injuries. The press, the commentators, etc all go along with the charade that Nadal lost the French Open and missed Wimbledon last year due to a crippling knee injury and withdrew from Australia this year again due to another serious knee injury.

    Well here is VIDEO EVIDENCE that Nadal was NOT INJURED during either of these matches. When you watch these videos, keep your eyes on Nadal the entire time. Don't watch the ball or the opponent, watch ONLY NADAL. Watch him sprint around the court, slide, change directions, etc. Something an injured person COULD NOT DO!

    Clip #1 Nadal vs Soderling, 2009 French Open: the match he was supposedly crippled during (again watch ONLY NADAL)

    Clip #2 Nadal vs Murray: 2010 Australian Open:

  23. "Nadal is going to try to beat Muray on one leg." LOL the commentators totally bought it. The guy was still chasing down balls until the last point right before he defaulted. What the hell were these guys watching? Nadal was not limping and was running around like a rabbit.

    It's pretty clear, Nadal knew he had no chance to come back, so he fake his injury so he had a perfect excuse to miss Rotterdam and Davis Cup. That was the 6 week period in which he certainly put on a lot more weight and bulk. Since then? He's won 5 tournaments!

  24. And how about the bathroom break Serena took in the final against Henin at Aussie Open. She was loosing and lookied really exhausted. "Miracuously" after about 15 minutes (!) she came back and hardly broke a drop of sweat and went on to defeat Henin 6-2. One strange thing about that is that she took her handbag with her to the bathroom. Was it that she was worried there wouldn't be enough toilet paper?Hmmm. Makes you wonder.

  25. "Anon. 7.46"

    Good post. I saw both those matches live. During either, it was impossible to detect that Nadal was injured (until he pulled up early in the 3rd set of the AO match), as he moved as well as he generally does - which is exceptionally well. However, it was also clear that in both matches he was playing inspired opponents, who had too much game for him on the day. At the time I thought the subsequent claim of injury was bs, and I still do.

    Nadal is dodgy for a number of reasons, and not just the claims of injury when he loses:

    If you look at the way he produces his strokes, they are highly unconventional and very abbreviated, and what truly amazes is that despite those apparent shortcomings he is able to generate enormous power and spin through the use of his arm alone (but what an arm!)- there is very little body weight forward transfer in many of his shots. Hence he is able to hit with power from anywhere in the court, and especially from extreme defensive positions. That is unprecedented in this sport - no previous counterpuncher has had that kind of capacity.

    Yet, by the end of last year, when he was considerably smaller, the limitations in his technique had become evident in that his shots had lost much of their depth, power and spin. He was easily beaten.

    That, to me, is yet another demonstration that Nadal has needed physical resources of strength, speed and stamina way beyond what most top professionals possess to play his supremely taxing yet technically limited game -which is what he is miraculously doing again this year. How does he acquire (as well as lose, as he did last year) that margin of physical superiority, that no player in history has possessed as he does? It enables him to beat every kind of opponent on every surface. Without it, he is just another very good clay-courter whose technical limitations (he can't hit a flat ball) are exposed on faster courts - as was shown at 2009 year end championships, when he failed to win even a set of any of his top ranked opponents. The question is, which is the real Nadal?

  26. "(he can't hit a flat ball)"

    Yes, he can

    He just doesn't want to, I guess.

  27. "Anon. 8.51"

    Wrong - he hits about 400 forehands there and none of them is flat. You mistake power for trajectory. He can hit the crap out of a forehand that still has huge topspin that pulls it into court, but no way is it a flat ball. His stroke production doesn't permit it. Topspin gives him a big margin of error over the net and improves his consistency. But unlike other players with this stroke he can generate huge power - which takes huge strength. Some years more than others ..

    Most other players need to flatten the ball, and take some topspin off, to get anything like that pace - whcih is why they are more error-prone.

    You should go back and look at the tape and try to understand better what you are seeing.

  28. C'mon, the forehands from that video are clearly flat.
    When he beat Federer in Miami in 2004 his strokes were flatter than now.

    Andreev and Schiavone also play with topspin.

  29. "Yes, he can

    He just doesn't want to, I guess."

    Wow, it took all of 7 minutes for the "muddy the truth" guys to come out. Proves you guy are sitting at your keyboard, waiting to muddy the waters ?

    Hey, where is :
    - His weight didn't go down in 2009 (it was different shirts he wore)
    - His performance dropped in 2009, because of a loss of "confidence", and he was upset over his parents divorce
    - I know him, he would never cheat.
    - He's just humble, that's why a multi-millionare 24 year old still lives with his parents, doesn't learn English, only trains in Majorca with uncle Toni.
    - His build is due to "good genes".
    - His face significantly changed shape at 17, because of "puberty".
    - His super human endurance comes from "diving for oysters off Majorca".

    You guys are falling behind, lets increase that propaganda will ya !

  30. well, lots of players have topspin at their disposal. Even Federer puts a lot of work on the ball. It's just the ferocious amount of spin Nadal generates that makes him so hard to play. And as he is naturally a right hander he has what Murray and others have called "two forehands."

  31. From various sources around the web :

    "The first guys we did were Sampras and Agassi. They were hitting forehands that in general were spinning about 1,800 to 1,900 revolutions per minute. Federer is hitting with an amazing amount of spin, too, right? 2,700 revolutions per minute. Well, we measured one forehand Nadal hit at 4,900. His average was 3,200."

    NOBODY HAS EVER HIT WITH AS MUCH TOPSPIN AS NADAL DOES. Some of his forehands may have less than others, but even a "flat" forehand for Nadal has more topspin than most other players generate for their normal forehands.

  32. Unfortunately, tennis tends to be filmed from a wide zoom so viewers can see the entire court. But this also distorts the height and trajectory of the player's shots. So a lot of people cannot see the height and net clearance of Nadal's shots.

    The irony of Nadal's playing style is that he is known for being the mentally toughest player, yet his game style doesn't really require it. How many risky shots does he ever take? His gameplan is simple: pound the snot out of the ball, while making sure the ball clears the net by feet, not inches. How many times in a match does Nadal hit a groundstoke into the net?!

  33. Here's an example of the superior net clearance of Nadal. I went back and rewatched the first set of Nadal vs Coria in the 2005 Rome final and counted all non serve shots hit by Nadal. Here is the amazing result:

    Nadal hit a whopping 212 strokes in that set and only 5 of them landed in the net. That's right, only 2.4% of Nadal's strokes (and this includes the return of serve!!!) landed in the net!

    P.S. that means Nadal probably hit well over 1,000 strokes in that match. Amazing.

  34. "If you look at the way he produces his strokes, they are highly unconventional and very abbreviated, and what truly amazes is that despite those apparent shortcomings he is able to generate enormous power and spin through the use of his arm alone (but what an arm!)- there is very little body weight forward transfer in many of his shots. Hence he is able to hit with power from anywhere in the court, and especially from extreme defensive positions. That is unprecedented in this sport - no previous counterpuncher has had that kind of capacity.

    Yet, by the end of last year, when he was considerably smaller, the limitations in his technique had become evident in that his shots had lost much of their depth, power and spin. He was easily beaten."

    Which means that with his inferior technique, he HAS to be bulked up to be a dominant player. His strength is all he has. He does not have the technique of a Federer, Sampras or even Agassi. Federer generates power through proper technique and weight transfer. Nadal generates power from his arm muscles.

    So if Nadal had played his entire career without bulking up, does anyone think he's a 2 Slam winner (both at the French) at best?

  35. "Which means that with his inferior technique, he HAS to be bulked up to be a dominant player. His strength is all he has. He does not have the technique of a Federer, Sampras or even Agassi. Federer generates power through proper technique and weight transfer. Nadal generates power from his arm muscles."

    But there's a limit as to how much he could bulk up because it slows him down. I would say he doesn't generate power but more spin from his muscles. He doesn't hit a flat ball remember ? And anytime he does it doesn't have the pop of Federer, Soderling or Berdych. And that spin is exactly what throws off his opponents and creates havoc for them. I personally don't see Rafa as any bigger or smaller than last year. He's never been a great mover. He just takes a different tack to tennis which is why people in these parts think he is on something. I've seen him in person and he doesn't look any different than guys you see at the gym everyday and are in shape.

  36. "I personally don't see Rafa as any bigger or smaller than last year"

    "He's never been a great mover"

    "I've seen him in person and he doesn't look any different than guys you see at the gym everyday and are in shape."

    There it is :
    - His weight didn't go down in 2009 (it was different shirts he wore)
    - His performance dropped in 2009, because of a loss of "confidence", and he was upset over his parents divorce
    - I know him, he would never cheat.
    - He's just humble, that's why a multi-millionare 24 year old still lives with his parents, doesn't learn English, only trains in Majorca with uncle Toni.
    - His build is due to "good genes".
    - His face significantly changed shape at 17, because of "puberty".
    - His super human endurance comes from "diving for oysters off Majorca".

  37. "He's never been a great mover"

    Um, your kidding right ?

    That guy gets to EVERYTHING. His acceleration is similar to Olympic sprinters. I DON'T THINK ANY TENNIS PLAYER HAS EVER HAD THE SAME COURT COVERAGE THAT NADAL HAS (in spite of his "debilitating knee injuries).

  38. more highlights of Nadal's movement while supposedly suffering from knee tendonitis:

    Nadal vs Verdasco:

    Nadal vs Djokovic: Watch the point at 1:18

    Nadal vs Davydenko:

    How can I get this injury? :P

  39. Nadal just weeks after coming back from career threatening injury:

    Nadal, 48 hours after brutal, 5 hour match against Verdasco:
    (watch 0:56-1:24, 2:35, 3:34, )

  40. The size of Nadal's arm is just crazy. The latest from Cincy:

  41. Anyone can get that left bicep from swinging a 10 ounce Babolat racquet (end sarcasm).

  42. "The size of Nadal's arm is just crazy. The latest from Cincy" 4.43

    The position of his racquet arm in that photo/stroke explains why his bicep development is preternaturally huge for a tennis player. The arm has whipped up almost vertically through the ball at tremendous speed, almost without forwards drive off the legs and core. (The image that comes to mind is that he has thrown a medicine ball from below his waist to above his head. Just using his left arm. Wow.) Whereas for most tennis players (and sportsmen generally) power comes essentially from the larger muscle groups of the lower anatomy (as well as from timing, of course), Nadal's source of extra 'juice' (if you will pardon the expression) on the shot is due to the enormous explosive exertion generated by that bicep you can see in the photo. It means he can hit a ball very late, with almost no body preparation, and yet produce a powerful, heavily-spun shot from arm action alone. All he requires from his lower body is just to get within hitting range of the ball - which he does better than anyone ever has.

    So, is it just his good 'genes' that enable him to do all this - or something more?

    It is recognised that if a player is using steroids, or their equivalents like HGH, constant repetitive muscular action alone will produce larger muscle development in the areas most used, without the need for hours of weight training. Nadal, by his own admission, does virtually no weight training. This also explains the greatly inferior muscular development of his right arm - a deficiency that would be corrected if he had worked out. But that arm is smaller because he doesn't - and he doesn't use it the same way on the court. Basically, end of argument - you can't get a bicep like that just from hitting tennis balls, and if he spent hours in the gym his muscular development would not be so dramatically asymetrical, as it so clearly is.

  43. Someone should try an experiment. Take a tennis racquet and swing it using Nadal's swing motion an hour per day. After a couple of months, show the before and after pictures to see if a huge bicep muscle was developed.

  44. one hour would not to enough. i'd have to be 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours about 8 hours later... as hard as possible, too.

  45. Hey, cmon guys.

    Ya know he works out.

    No ? Well he has good "genes" then.

    Not buying that ? Then he spends hours every day swimming with just his left arm (he swims in circles).

    Ya, thats the ticket !

  46. I personally believe Nadal is doping(HGH or blood doping) but what is puzzling to me is Nadal's weight loss last year. He looked skinny at the US Open and the Year end Championships. Did he stop doping for a while, causing him to lose his muscle bulk? If that's the case, why did he do so? Did he temporarily stop doping while his doctors worked on another efficient way of doping capable of avoiding detection?
    I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of abnormality in his drug test results which was hushed up by the tennis officialdom. Instead of kicking him to the curb, they would have let him off with a warning not to repeat his offence again. To prevent any damage to his image, uncle and nephew probably came up with the chronic injury story.
    I mean, the dude was doing fine mowing down opponents like a lawn mower until he lost at the French Open. Then suddenly he claims to be injured, skips Wimbledon, there are whispers that his injury is so serious as to end his career right away, etc.
    And to gain sympathy and reduce suspicion upon his return, he probably laid off the juice during the USO. With his muscles considerably smaller, he got thrashed in the semi finals and promptly pulled out the injury card, saying that his abdominal muscles hurt. Earlier in the tournament he had claimed that he was doing fine and had dismissed reporters' questions about injuries. But once he lost he promptly claimed injury. He is the ultimate flip flopper. Add to this his on court shenanigans of taking forever between points, toweling off after every point, bogus injury claims, fist pumps and karate kicks, on court coaching from his uncle, etc and you have the complete package.

  47. I personally think he was spooked by the new testing regime (WADA code) put in place for 2009.

    Even though the new regime (2009 on) is not much different than pre-2009, the players didn't know that at the time (which led to a lot of whining in early 2009 - Nadal, Williams sisters, Murray, and others complained about it).

    Going into the FO 2009, there were reports of new types of tests being instituted for the first time. I strongly suspect that Nadal reduced or eliminated his doping at that point in time.

    His body weight susbsequently appeared to go down (as was reported by many on-air commentators, like McEnroe). His shots were measured as slower, and appeared to land shorter in the court. As well, he didn't win another tournament for many months.

    I suspect that his entourage was spooked by the new tests, and modified, or eliminated his doping regime in early to mid 2009.

    By 2010 of course, everyone knew that the new testing regime was not significantly tougher than the old testing regime. Subsequently the whining stopped, and Nadal got bigger, stronger, and MUCH more successfull.

  48. Anon 8:32 - That sounds very logical and explains the sudden decline in Nadal's performance level and the subsequent miraculous improvement.

  49. As well, his "injuries" may have been a ruse to explain away his lower performance in mid-2009. A dramatic drop in performance by the then world's number one player may have raised some suspicions.

    How could such a dominant clay player lose to Solderling in a tournament that Nadal had destroyed all opponents before 2009 ?

    Voila, the injury excuse.

    I think this scenario (Nadal being spooked by the new testing regime, and temporarily reducing/eliminating his doping) is much more likely than an ATP/ITF coverup and "silent ban".

    Although the ATP has been caught before covering up positive tests (Agassi, Rusedski,...), coverups are VERY dangerous. There are too many people involved to keep them all quiet (like Agassi).

  50. As well, Nadal seemed to be emotionally agitated around May/June/July 2009. Was it because his parents were getting divorced, or was he concerned that he was about to get caught by the new "tougher" testing regime ?

  51. Is this fear of being caught the real reason he skipped Wimbledon 2009 ?

  52. I wish the new testing regime was really effective. I am tired of seeing endurance athletes take over tennis. Every time commentators drool over how these players force their opponent to hit 3 winners instead of just one, I cringe. Someone must question how they find the energy to chase down the ball for 5 hours and then do it all over again in the very next match without any discomfort. The current pro tennis scene is very similar to the home run hitting era of baseball.

  53. Anon 9:26 - Nadal's Wimbledon non participation was full of drama and oddities. After a sound thrashing at the hands of Soderling, Nadal at first refused to blame injury for his loss. Then, as he has done so very often, he changed his tune and claimed injury. Perhaps to 'prove' that his injury is real and not made up, the Nadal camp stated that he might be forced to skip Wimbledon due to his 'injury'. A few days before Wimbledon, he played a couple of exhibition matches to test out his fitness. He then withdrew from Wimbledon, stating that he didn't want to participate as he didn't believe he could win. Now, why was he so sure that he couldn't win? Is it because he was off the juice and feared another early round thrashing?

  54. "I wish the new testing regime was really effective. I am tired of seeing endurance athletes take over tennis."

    Although steroids do help somewhat in "recovery", most endurance doping is from "blood doping". EPO, and removal/replacement (Analogous ?) of a player's blood products are the most effective way to increase endurance.

    Blood doping is even harder to detect than steroids. The ITF does very little testing for blood doping. There are VERY few blood samples given by the players, and almost all of those are given in-competition.

    Since these types of doping leave little or no trace after a day, or two, in-competition testing for blood doping is virtually useless (ie. the ITF just does it to "appear" to be doing something).

    Cycling has a MUCH tougher blood doping testing regime (Blood passport) than does tennis, and Floyd Landis detailed how the top cyclists circumvented that tougher blood testing regime.

    Can you imagine how easy it would be to blood dope in tennis, and not get caught ? When it is easy to cheat, and get away with it, over time, more and more players WILL cheat.

  55. After last year's AO, when I was convinced that Nadal was doping to produce performances of the kind he had over the previous 6-8 months, I believed the announcement that the ITF was introducing tougher drug-testing procedures would compel him to back off the juice. Nadal immediately made it clear he really didn't like the new rules. If it was true that he had been juicing then the evidence for this would be a gradual decline in his performance in the next few months, and a possible reduction in his body size.

    Both these occurred. Shortly after the AO his winning margins on hard-court became closer, and then in the clay-court season opponents began to run him tight (without beating him). No more 6-1, 6-1 drubbings. More like 5 and 5. By the time he made it to the French he was not as big, powerful or as fast as he had been a year previously. He looked beatable. Same game but less of it. And that is how he was able to be beaten by Soderling. It just couldn't have happened a year previously.

    Despite missing Wimbledon last year because of claimed injury he was back on court for the hard-court season but had clearly lost 'pop'. This continued through till the end of the year, when just about everybody (except his blindly devoted fans) was asking, where has Nadal gone? He was in every sense a fraction of his former self. As he himself admitted he was no longer injured there was only one feasible explanation - he was off the juice, and not Superman anymore, just another fairly good player - but not top 10. That's enough to give anyone a crisis of 'confidence'.

    But after a 3-week break over Christmas - and the news that the ITF was really doing nothing over the new testing rules - the 'old' Nadal started to re-emerge. He had regained much of his lost groundstroke speed in a matter of weeks. The bulk was coming back. From the clay-court season this year he has been on an absolute tear, and shortly before Wimbledon commentators like Rusedski said he was hitting ten percent harder this year than at his peak in '08. Nothing short of miraculous.

    Of course Nadal is back on the juice - because he and his camp now know the chances of being caught are virtually non-existent - thanks to the ITF and its 'tough' new drug testing regime.

  56. Clowns.

    Nadal could play with topspin when he didn't even turn 17. Check the point that starts at 4:13

    He beat the reigning French Open champion.
    He beat Moya when he was just a kid. He beat Pat Cash when he was only 14 (although it was just an exhibition).

    Am I supposed to believe that during all these years he stopped juicing only during a few months in 2009? At the US Open he beat Monfils, who is a very muscular guy.
    He obviously wasn't feeling well at the WTF, but there might be 1823445 reasons for that.
    Federer just said in an interview that he feels sad that his body couldn't hold up to Berdych in Wimbledon. That's why he lost.
    Players have to be in a very good physical condition in order to perform at the highest level. All the top players, not just Nadal.
    Nadal played very bad at the WTF, but he played very well a few days later in the Davis Cup match against Berdych. You don't get the muscles back in a few days. He was drug tested twice during that weekend.
    How can you say that he juiced after the AO, when he played in Indian wells and lost to grandpa Ljubicic?!

    The difference between Nadal's and Federer's bodies is not big at all. You can see that clearly when they sit next to each other.

  57. "The difference between Nadal's and Federer's bodies is not big at all. You can see that clearly when they sit next to each other." 10.56

    It's hard to argue with someone who can believe there is any similarity between these two players, physical or otherwise.

    However, patience. Yes, it's true Nadal has been hitting topspin since he was a junior. It was the bedrock of his game - defensive consistency. But there was not hint of the power to come until he changed quite dramatically over a few months in 2004, when he went from skinny kid to buffed.

    Many believe he has been 'assisted' since then, and has used his frequent claims of injury to cycle on the stuff. The one time we saw a sustained decline in his physical performance was over 2009, which was when the ITF introduced the WADA whereabouts rule. (Yeah, right.)

    Since the beginning of this year, when it was apparent the rule was being poorly enforced, Nadal's physical performance has become stronger and stronger. The only players to beat him - including Ljubicic, a very powerful and talented player, ranked as high as 4, if I recall correctly - played out of their tree to do so.

    Now it is entirely possible, if not likely, that other players (including some you mention) are also users. But throughout his career, Nadal has been the stand-out. Sudden early muscle development - unprecedented for a tennis player - enormous strength for a guy of 6'1", out of this world stamina, frequent and mysterious injuries that he recovers from overnight that have finished the careers of other players etc. It is possible to go on - as many do. But the reality is that we live in the steroids era of sport and Nadal is its poster boy.

  58. No, all that is just what you want to believe.
    How can you say that there wasn't any hint of power when he beat Moya and Costa on clay in 2003? Those were grown men.
    How exactly is the wherebout rule poorly enforced? Did it change after 2009? I don't think so. Nadal's performance became stronger and stronger because the clay and the grass season arrived.
    An old Ljubicic can not beat a young juiced up player, no matter how good he plays.
    Compare Murray's game from the clay and grass season with the one from Toronto.
    Completely different. That doesn't mean that he's juicing.

  59. "No, all that is just what you want to believe."

    Nope. It is what the evidence points to. But I certainly see that it is not what you wish to believe. However, the nature of your arguments suggest to me that you don't understand the game of tennis in any detail. Your views on this are naive. So I guess there is no persuading you.

  60. Some very, very comments for this post. I also think it a tempting hypothesis that Nadal and his staff (as well as other players) were very scared at first when the new WADA code was introduced. And there is something else : we should not forget that, a week before Roland-Garros, the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) announced it would perform its own tests at the French Open. Now, maybe some here are unfamiliar with this agency, but let's just say
    that the year it was allowed to test freely at the Tour de France, it busted more dopers than the UCI in the five preceding TdF editions. In particular, the AFLD had implemented a very good CERA test and busted Bernhard Kohl with it.

    What happened after the annnouncement ? First, the ITF promptly issued a statement saying that CERA would not be tested at Roland-Garros, as it was improbable it was used in pro tennis.

    Second, a few days after the start of Roland-Garros, Nadal openly complained in a press conference of being woken up at his hotel, as well as David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco, by unnanounced doping testers.

    Third, Ferrer, Nadal and Verdasco all promptly lost.

    Fast forward to today : the AFLD is not free anymore to test solo at the Tour de France or Roland-Garros. And nobody complains about the
    whereabouts rules. Not a peep. Draw your own conclusions.

  61. To 11.50.

    One or two samples, does not a trend make.
    You want more stats?
    Check out

    The guy goes from not participating in FO, to winning it for the next 4 years. How's that for absurd? And that's just the FO, count how many other tournaments exhibit the same absurd jump.

    Repeat the process for the other top ten players and you have a much stronger argument than getting lucky and beating one or two "grown men".

  62. "The guy goes from not participating in FO, to winning it for the next 4 years. How's that for absurd?"

    That's not absurd at all. He played a lot of clay court tournaments by then.
    Besides, Borg did the same.
    Becker won Wimbledon after barely becoming a pro.

  63. THASP, do you think this Schrichaphan guy was doping?

  64. "That's not absurd at all. He played a lot of clay court tournaments by then.
    Besides, Borg did the same.
    Becker won Wimbledon after barely becoming a pro."

    no dice.

    Becker lasted 3R the year before he won Wimby

    and Borg lasted 4R the year before he won FO

    sorry, i can't continue to argue with somebody who can't be bothered to dig up data

  65. oops, make that

  66. Nadal was always a very good clay court player, even before he "exploded". But his game was not built on power to the same extent until 2005, when his performance dramatically improved. That power wained in 2009, along with some of his bulk, and his performance. In 2010, his bulk, strength, and results are all back with a vengance.

    The argument by the Nadal fanboy here is that Nadal was pretty good before he bulked up. Nobody is arguing that Nadal didn't have some talent before PEDs. Just that it is likely that PEDs put him over the top.

    In 2009, he still won most of his matches, even though he was not as "bulked up". But it was still not enough to win tournaments the way he did in 2008, and 2010.

    I suspect if Nadal had never used PEDs, he would have won a significant number of clay court tournaments, and one or two hard court tournaments, but no way would he have dominated the way he did in 2008, and has so far in 2010.

  67. "Being bulked up" is a retarded statement.
    Yes, Nadal needs to be fit in order to perform well. ALL of the top players need to be fit in order to perform at the highest level.
    At the end of last year it was obvious that Nadal wasn't in his best physical condition, but it's ridiculous to think that he should be like that all the time.

    Bulked up... Right.

  68. To Anonymous at 6.43

    Boy, it's hard to make a dent in the consciousness of some of those Nadal fans! There isn't any kind of evidence that can penetrate such a determined fog of blind loyalty. It would help if they understood a little of the game, maybe even some of the science on drugs in sport, but that appears to be too much to expect. It's almost unfair to argue with them, for the sheer dumbness of their views. Why do they come here? Do they really think their comic-book arguments are going to eradicate the awkward association when they google Nadal's name and steroids? It seems the flat-earthers, UFO-spotters and every other kind of credulous dolt have assembled under the one banner, crying "ole!" - or rather "vamos" - for their questionable hero. Of course to that mentality this website and the information it carries is an outrage. So on they charge, battling knowledge and truth with the intellectual equivalents of pitchforks and lanterns. At one level it's kinda funny; but in the end you just want to see someone bring out the hoses. Vamos.

  69. Hyper partisans CAN NOT be objective.

    More than 90% of Egyptians say the Egyptian pilot DID NOT fly that plane into the sea off Long Island, in spite of strong audio evidence to the contrary.

    70% of African Americans say OJ DID NOT slaughter those 2 INNOCENT white human beings, in spite of OJ effectively admitting guilt when he went on that "slow speed chase".

    We SHOULD NOT try to convince people who DO NOT want to be convinced. Concentrate your efforts on the non-partisan "listeners" on this blog, not the Hyper partisan fanboys (12 to 29 year old emotionally stunted males) that are arguing with you.

  70. Someone who thinks there isn't a big difference between Federer and Nadal's physiques calls others "clown", "retarded" etc. Fanboy, take those blinders off! With that one ridiculous statement you have lost the eligibility to be taken seriously. If your boy hadn't been a flip flopping, rule flouting, dubiously injured and uninjured drama queen, this discussion wouldn't have taken place.

  71. I see a lot of talk here about Nadal's physique but no one mentions that he's from a family of footballers. If you've ever seen his uncles or his dad, you know they are pretty big guys anyway. Rafa easily would have been a footballer (soccer player) as well if he hadn't played tennis.

  72. Yes. His bulk is in his "Genes". If it really was genetic, his bulk would be consistent, not fluctuating. As well, he would have shown signs of that bulk before he turned 17.

    I believe that Nadal only has one serious "footballer" in his family (Angel ?). He played for Barca, and the Spanish national team. Both of which are suspected to have used Fuentes "services" (including steroids).

  73. A family of footballers in a country where footballers are suspected of big time doping. That would certainly cause some concern to those who use their common sense.

  74. I'm watching the Cinci matches and the commentators made mention about Murray and Djockovic losing so much weight. Lampley mentioned that Djockovic looked "emaciated."


  76. I think some players "experiment" with doping, to see if it helps their game or not. They may try it for a few months, then go back off the dope if they don't see positive results.

    Then there are players that know that PEDs help their game a lot. These players are more "dedicated" to doping, and probably are users for most of their careers.

  77. Murray and Djokovic both have had fitness issues in the past. Djokovic has breathing problems and had retired from several matches. Even during his best days(circa 2008-9), he appeared very stiff and seemed to be putting a lot of stress on his body while playing.
    Murray does appear skinnier than last year. Remember the talk some time ago about how he had "worked on his fitness"? In the US Open, he even flexed his biceps during a match to show off.
    Anon 12:00 PM makes a good point about experimentation. These two perhaps experimented a little.

  78. Anyone who thinks Federer and Nadal have similar physiques is blind. As are the people who think Nadal's physique hasn't changed over the years.

    Everyone always looks at Nadal's arms , but an area he bulked up even more so is the legs. Look at Nadal's legs in January 2004:

    compare that to October 2005, 1 year and 9 months later:

    His legs are much thicker and stronger in the second picture.

  79. I think the "Rafa is bulked up" crowd isn't going to prove to anything to the "Rafa is skinny" crowd or vice versa.

    The pictures are interesting, but people see in them what they want, so no minds will be changed.

  80. Something interesting to ponder about Nadal and the French Open last year. It was the first Grand Slam that players were tested while they were still in the tournament. Prior to that, players were only tested after a loss (or after they won the tournament). As long as you kept winning, you couldn't get tested.

    If you think about it, how backwards is that? Why would you test the LOSERS of matches each round? Who cares if the guy who lost in the round of 128 was doping. He lost! No harm, no foul.

    They should be testing the WINNER after each match. That means the champion is tested 7 times during a Slam. Runner up is tested 6 times. Semifinalists are tested 5 times, etc etc. And the players should be tested on their rest days, NOT right after a match. That would make it MUCH HARDER for players to dope during a Slam.

    Now go back to the French Open last year: Nadal was tested while he was still in the tournament. This upset him greatly. In past years, he knew he would only get tested if he lost. And up to that point, Nadal was UNBEATABLE at the French. If he was unbeatable he could dope during most of the tournament and know he would not get tested!