Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nadal's knees...

Either he actually has a serious knee problem, in which case his ability to play at his current level can only be explained by serious pain killers injected into his knees, which will eventually damage his knees even more - or he does not have a significant knee problem and this treatment is a ruse to avoid tournaments, drug tests and possibly receive performance enhancing drugs. So if you are a Nadal supporter and you want to believe that these knee complaints are legit, you should be screaming at the top of your lungs at the trainers and doctors who continue to drug up his knees for one more tournament, which will certainly end badly for him. Am I missing another possibility? Post it in the comments.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Am I Reading This Correctly?

Note: I've added a lot of interesting updates to this post, linking tennis, Tony Galea (Tiger's Doctor), Victor Conte from Balco and even Maria Sharapova. (Thanks Anonymous)

I'm looking for a second source for this story (thanks anonymous), but I will assume that the term "growth hormones" doesn't mean what I think it means for now:
The 2008 champion and second seed has reached the last eight, but said his right knee fitness is a day-to-day affair. Nadal is due to undergo a procedure after Wimbledon which reportedly involves injecting growth hormones in the knee as a medical recovery tool and which worked on his left knee two months ago.
"I don't have the control of my knees, I don't know what's gonna happen," said Nadal, who next faces French Open foe Robin Soderling of Sweden, "I'm trying my best to be ready. I'm here to try my best even with pain on the knees or without pain of the knees."


Update: Here are a few other quotes about the knees from various stories:
"special treatment"

When pressed to describe the treatment, Nadal remained vague, saying he could not easily explain it in English. He told reporters in Spanish that he had received painful injections into the tendons in his knees.

Angel Ruiz Cotorro, a doctor with the Spanish tennis federation who works with Nadal, said Sunday they'll do the new treatment on the right knee after Wimbledon "to improve the regeneration of the tendon."

Aside from the fact that this is a little reminiscent of Tony Galea's "treatments" which apparently involved sneaking in a little growth hormone, I will point out that tendonitis is not due to a lack of tendon growth. It is an inflammation, so I don't know what "regeneration" of the tendon means. This is really starting to sound quite suspicious. Is there some reason that the exact nature of the treatment needs to remain so secretive? I am also wondering if perhaps a therapeutic use exemption is involved here for substances that might otherwise be banned.

Update II: Another commenter points out (which I missed, somehow) that the original story from Galea suggested that tennis players were also getting his "treatment":
“Our understanding was that Dr. Galea was a well-known doctor in Canada who had worked extensively with well known professional tennis players, football players and hockey players,” Randy Hendricks said in an e-mail message.


Update III: From a Where-have-you-been anonymous commenter: Notes that Sharapova's chiropractor for her shoulder injury, Dr. Mark Lindsay, is tied to Galea and Victor Conte from the Balco steroid scandal (this story also points out that Lance Armstrong's racing team in 2000 had been found to have a discarded bag containing Actovegin, a performance enhancer which Galea was also caught with and which is as yet not detectable. Wow, great stuff, anonymous!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Starting them young


A reader sends me this picture of a booth for "Advocare" products that was set up at a National Junior's tournament. I wasn't familiar with this stuff, but it appears to be a multi-level marketing scheme like Amway, but for nutritional supplements for weight loss, muscle building, and energy drinks. I think this stuff is crap and possibly even dangerous. I also object to them marketing this to children and it sends the message that performance improvement should be achieved through means other than hard work and practice. I also don't care for the idea that weight loss supplements are being marketed at a junior's tournament. The whole thing is unhealthy and a sign of the times.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Knee Flare-up

This story offered without comment (Thanks Anonymous):
Nadal called for the trainer early in the fourth set. An injury timeout ensued, with Nadal receiving a rubdown near his right knee and upper thigh. And then he ran like mad.
“Right now I’m just [ticked] off and sad that I lost the match,” Petzschner said. “Maybe he had something. Maybe it was just a clever part to take a timeout there. I don’t know.”
Nadal said any such accusation was nonsense.
“I never called the physio when I have nothing, not one time in my career,” he said.
Nadal was typically vague about the condition of his knee. At first he said, “I’m a little bit scared.” A few minutes later he recanted. “No, No, I’m not scared,” he said. “I know what I have to do to recover the knee. I didn’t have time to do it before [Wimbledon]. But after, I have the new treatment.”


Update: To be fair, I should point out that Nadal's opponent "the hard-serving German" Philipp Petzschner has a bit of a cheating cloud over his head, as he refused to sign on to his country's drug testing and claims to disappear for days at a time without even telling his wife where he is, so he is unable to submit to the whereabouts rule. By the way, is there any married man out there who buys that story?

That Glorious Bathroom Break

Yet another bathroom break story from an interview with Andy Roddick. What is it with today's modern bathrooms? (Thanks B):
Q. You seemed to pick up your game in the third and fourth sets. Talk about that uptake.
ANDY RODDICK: I got a little bit more aggressive. I started hitting my forehand return well, and that was the difference. You know, I started sticking that return.
Then all of a sudden, even if I wasn't breaking, I was 30‑All every game. You put yourself in a position at 30‑All every game, you're making returns, uhm, you know, you don't have to just convert that one time. You're going to have opportunities to make him come up with the goods.
In the third and the fourth set, I felt like I did that pretty well.
Q. What was your internal dialogue like during the changeover after letting that second set get away?
ANDY RODDICK: I went to the bathroom, so I didn't actually have a changeover. I walked out.
No, I mean, after a tiebreaker, when the difference is one set all, two sets to love, that's pretty high intensity. The crowd gets really into it. But there's always a lull after that where, you know, someone can kind of take momentum back. It definitely dies down a little bit. He played a bad game. I was aware of that opportunity.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Disgruntled Commenters

I have been getting a number of comments and e-mails complaining about the way I run this blog. Horrible, horrible things are being said ;)
Most of it is along the lines of these three complaints:
1. I focus too much on Nadal and Serena Williams
2. I rely too heavily on Pictures.
3. I focus too much on the muscular appearance of certain players while ignoring others doing some alleged superhuman feat.

Let me respond in kind:
1. I focus on top players that also look juiced up. If this was a track and field blog, I would be focusing heavily on Usain Bolt. This is not because I have some ill feelings towards Bolt. How many of you can even name one other sprinter. Does anyone really care if Mahut (who I honestly hadn't heard of before yesterday) might be using something to help his stamina? If he starts winning a few big matches, he will get his time on this blog like everyone else. I focus more on Serena and Nadal because they are the best candidates to focus on. They are top players. They look unusually muscular. They seem to have phantom injuries that are consistent with someone avoiding drug testing (and I have even demonstrated that they have missed drug tests). They will likely always be the most featured players on this blog. It has nothing to do with whether I like them or whether I think Roger Federer has a nicer smile than Rafael Nadal. If I stop focusing on Serena and Nadal, that means they have probably stopped winning matches. Otherwise get used to their appearance here.
2. Pictures are as close to an objective fact as I can get most of the time. This is a blog. I post a few things each week in my spare time. I would love to do something like a computer analysis of the increase in serve speeds of various players, past and present and present that scientific data. But, again, this is a blog I do in my spare time for no money, no fame and no other reward. Secondly, I believe that the ITF and other tennis organizations, as well as journalists, are quite aware of the problem of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in tennis. That is what they should be reporting. That is what they are paid to do. That is what they have a staff of people to investigate for them. As a blog, what I am trying to do is shame these organizations and journalists into acknowledging the problem. ONE way to do that is post pictures of the players, which, more and more, gives tennis the appearance of a carnival sideshow. As you sift through the pictures, though, you also must admit that I also have more solid information about tennis and steroids on this blog than anywhere else.
3. This is a blog that was started because I looked at many of the top players and, due to my background in weight training, realized were likely taking steroids. It is much easier to look at a player with a certain kind of muscular development and draw a conclusion than it is to say that this or that player seems to have a lot of stamina (for those of you expressing that opinion about various players, it is much more convincing if I have a broadcaster or journalist to link to than an anonymous commenter, so send me a link!).

If any of you would like to do more scientific studies and send me the data, I'll be happy to check it out and post it if it seems persuasive. If any of you want to start a more intellectual blog about this subject, I will happily provide a link for you. My ego really isn't that big... really. And one more thing: Lighten up! It's a blog for goodness sake.


Above: Nadal ignores his knee problems and jumps for joy at the prospect of getting another picture on this blog

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Preparation



WIMBLEDON, England - Serena Williams attended a Green Day rock concert over the weekend and worked on her curtsy as preparation for Wimbledon. Tennis traditionalists have long derided the Williams sisters' unorthodox preparation for Grand Slam events, but regardless, it appears to work.

Considering her picture above from her first round match, I'm thinking there is another way to interpret her "preparation." One wonders whether she skipped a drug test again this year. In any case, I'm looking forward to watching her curtsy.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Juniors...

Someone sent me a pic of an up and coming pre-teen tennis player and I was considering posting a pic (as readers of this blog know, I generally do not post junior players). Instead I'm just going to say this:
Nick Bollettieri: Go F**k Yourself

Update: For those of you asking me to post a pic, simply google for some of the top juniors and decide for yourselves.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Running out of Material (Again)

Once again, I'm feeling like I've hit the wall with this blog. Nothing new is happening. No matter how obvious it seems that tennis has a steroid problem, lip service is given to the issue (at the most). In the past, whenever I am about to give up the ship, something interesting happens, so maybe something will come this way. In the meantime, since I'm sick of that Nadal post, I will scrape the barrel a bit with this story about steroids in Canadian college football. Apparently, the professional league (CFL) does not even do any drug testing (Thanks Rikyu and Anonymous):
“To be perfectly honest, anyone who doesn’t think there are seven to 13 players on every team [using performance-enhancing drugs] in the CIS, you’re kidding yourself,” said Mr. Surgenor, 21. “There’s at least that number. I don’t think the CIS really wants to find out what’s going on. They don’t want to know the answer [to how many athletes are taking steroids]."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Haven't I heard this one somewhere before?

"Nadal reported no problems with the leg injury that was treated on Thursday, but withdrew from the doubles citing a right hamstring strain. He plans to return to Spain for a few days of relaxation before returning to London for Wimbledon."

Update: A few Nadal supporting commenters have given up the pretense of believing he is injured and take the position that it is perfectly fine for a top player to fake an injury to get out of a tournament. This is an interesting line of argument, that I think will eventually lead to "so what if he takes performance enhancing drugs - that's what he needs to do in order be the top player." So, I ask you, what are you doing commenting on this blog when, if Nadal was caught, you'd probably be advocating for legalizing steroid use in tennis?

Update 2: Since I still have nothing new, and since Nadal supporters are entertaining to watch in the comments section - I'd like to wish Rafael Nadal a Happy Anniversary, as it will be one year tomorrow when he missed an out-of-competition drug test (as he promised he would do) and was subsequently unable to play in Wimbledon, not because of a drug test issue, but due to a debilitating "knee injury" from which he has completely recovered. Happy Anniversary, Rafa...
Note: Some commenters think I'm being too hard on Nadal supporters with the above statement. I assume they can handle it, but if not, I don't want them to stop commenting, so apologies. What would this blog be without you guys?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Men

For obvious reasons, I've focused on the women this time around. I suppose I could post another picture of Nadal's bicep and let everyone argue with me about whether he looks natural. Instead I'll just make a couple of points:
1. People generally do not just get cured of tendonitis and run around as if their knees are fine a year after he was in too much pain to perform (particularly people who have to train as professional athletes during much of that time). I stand by my opinion that there was never really anything wrong with his knees.
2. Nadal missed a drug test last year, after saying that he would do so. As with many other players, no explanation for this missed test has been given.
3. I can have my opinions, but the commentators are also saying that he has gotten bigger again, without any explanation as to how that happened. Nadal supporters - feel free to provide one.

Update: I can't find much worth making a new post. Anyone got anything interesting?
Nadal supporters: You sure spend a lot of time on this site trying to tell us why Nadal isn't using steroids. I'll save you some time and recap your arguments. "He isn't really that big (anymore)" and "No, he doesn't". Did I miss anything?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What to say...



What can we say about this final and the two competitors? What does it say about the future of tennis? Does this mark the culmination of a particular era in tennis, or is this just the beginning? I am certain that we will one day look back at this final as a kind of milestone. What happens after this in tennis is dependent on the fans and sports journalists. The players will continue to do whatever it takes to win, so if things continue as they are, you can expect a field of young tennis players with some rather unusually good genetics for years to come.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Battle of the Elephant in the Room

It will be interesting to see in how many ways the French Open finalists will be described as "powerful" without the announcers mentioning the obvious. It's a dream final for this blog:
"To be honest," Jankovic said, summing up, "she kind of has, like, almost the game of a man. That's what it feels like."
She made note of Stosur's muscular build, saying, "She's a strong girl. You can see by looking at her physically. She can hit pretty big, and she has one of the strongest serves in the women's game."
Said Stosur's coach, Australia Fed Cup captain David Taylor: "She's a natural athlete. Everyone thinks she spends 10 hours a day in the gym, and a lot of that's just good genetics."

By the way - Anyone else think that Jelena was trying to say a certain something without actually saying it?

Update: A pic of Stosur in 2006, before the "good genetics" fully kicked in (Thanks Anonymous):

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Congratul... oops



Often when Serena loses to a "muscular" competitor, we get Serena fans coming on here outraged after googling tennis and steroids, without it ever occurring to them that the object of their adulation might also be chemically enhanced. Welcome...