Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Doping Test Distribution: 2009 Australian Open

There are two tables presented below regarding doping tests conducted at the 2009 Australian Open. The first breaks down the tests according to draw (e.g., singles, doubles, etc.). The second table breaks things down according to winners tested and losers tested for the main singles and doubles draws.

The table reveals that the aggregate testing statistics presented in the ITF's 2009 summary report are somewhat misleading. The summary reports states that 150 tests were carried out (74 men; 76 women). However, the ITF summary doesn't indicate that these tests were spread across not just the main singles, doubles, and mixed doubles draws, but also include the qualfying rounds as well as the juniors tournaments. Second, if you're paying attention, you'll notice that my totals differ (74 men; 75 women) from the ITF's totals. The discrepancy is due to the ITF making errors in their detailed statistics. They included a female wheechair test in the men's data, and a junior boys test in the women's data. So, I shifted the junior test into the mens numbers and dropped the wheelchair test.

The second table, of course, shows the ITF's in-competition test distribution plan for the 2009 Australian Open to be weak in the extreme. Match winners were only tested in the finals. In all other rounds only the losing player(s) was tested. This finding came from my earlier analysis of the men's and women's draws.

Does this look like a stringent testing regime? Who thinks tennis historians should place an asterik next to the 2009 Australian Open?


  1. I'm not buying this theory that this allows players to "micro dose" all the way to a championship. How could they be sure they are going to win? How do they know when they are going to lose? There is way too much risk on the table for that if you are going with the assumption that only being tested once provides them the room they need to do this, and that being tested more frequently wouldn't.

    The real issue is, can the testing even catch what the top players are using these days? Probably not, which is why all of this irrelevant.

    1. What exactly aren't you "buying"? A player who wins, could micro-dose, knowing that they won't face another test for probably at least 36 hours. It's a fact that some PEDs clear within hours, as Conte noted: http://deadspin.com/5869473/victor-conte-says-ryan-brauns-test-result-is-exactly-what-youd-expect-from-fast+acting-testosterone-not-anabolic-steroids

      Also, you suggest that tests don't even detect what top players are using. If that's the case, does it not imply that you believe there is no risk to in-competition doping and that players can get away with it? If so, what are you disagreeing with?

  2. As SnR suggests, it isn't about what players do before a match, while predicting its outcome, but more about how they can possibly micro-dose AFTER they've completed their match. If they've lost their match then they don't need to do so anyway as they are no longer playing in the tournament, therefore cannot possibly benefit from any PEDs. If they've won their match then they know they aren't going to get tested for enough time to consider micro-dosing for their next match, going by these predictable testing regimes (that I guess they may well have been directly knowledgeable of). The only match winners that were tested were the tournament champions, who wouldn't then need to micro-dose because they've already won!

    Even if by some stretch of the moral compass players aren't, in fact, micro-dosing, it is clear that the testing regimes need to at least act towards preventing the possibility, and Sen has made the point that this would be extremely easily achieved if they wanted to do it, which makes the fact that they aren't rather suspect. All you would need to do is test both losers and more importantly winners from matches, preferably each player (who doesn't lose straight away) more than once throughout the tournament, and at random times between matches. Simple.