Monday, February 6, 2012

UKAD on ITF Testing Protocol

Well, Contador lost his case. To mark this occasion, here's an exclusive that you won't get anywhere else.

A few weeks ago, I asked the ITF about their test distribution planning. They would not divulge anything. As a result, I decided to ask some national anti-doping bodies about their role and view on ITF testing for performance enhancing drugs. Thus far, UK Anti-Doping has responded:


I'm surprised by UKAD's response. I thought they'd be supportive of the ITF, or provide assurances that the ITF provides stringent controls. However, the answer by UKAD makes no comment on rigor. Instead, UKAD makes it clear that they are not involved in any way with the ITF's doping control planning and administration at Wimbledon. Interesting.

Here's the e-mail I sent to UKAD that prompted the response above (note that I mentioned my findings regarding testing at Wimbledon 2009 and forwarded them the ITF's response):


PS: A forgotten victim in the whole Contador mess was the Spanish beef industry. Cantador and the Spain's anti-doping body, basically threw the entire industry under the bus with the "contaminated meat" story. Here's is the cattle farmer's reaction to the guilty verdict:
Spain’s national association of cattle farmers also felt vindicated. 
“This shows that our system of traceability and food safety is one of the best around and is homogeneous with all other EU countries,” the organization, which goes by the acronym ASOPROVAC, said in a statement. “This decision that puts an end to (our) work ... in defending our food safety system, which has come under scrutiny following false accusations.”

19 comments:

  1. It's a bit much to play off anti-doping bodies against each other, however I believe I know how you can get the kind of info we'd like to see - just ask UKAD or USADA or ASADA or even the IOC how they approach test distribution in a knockout tournament (any sport). I'm sure they're more transparent about their protocols. Maybe there's a good and logical reason for testing losers-only?

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    1. Hi Michlob,
      That's a good question, I'll try asking it. However, I don't agree with you that I'm playing bodies against each other. Should the AFLD not have done supplementary testing at the Roland Garros in 2009 because it's an ITF event? Isn't the supplementary testing evidence of anti-doping bodies directly engaging in a turf battle? Clearly, AFLD had a good reason for doing supplementary testing at Roland Garros in 2009 (which involved testing winning players, thereby showing that particular protocol to be feasible). My guess is that the AFLD was not satisfied with the ITF's protocols.

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    2. Further, I think anti-doping bodies need to police each other. As we all saw with Spain's hearing for Contador, enforcement and rigor is not uniform, so I believe it's a legimate question to ask. Also, recall that the USADA publicly called-out other countries (who are WADA members) for lax anti-doping regimes. My view: If bodies know that a particularly agency is not getting the job done, they should be taking action.

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    3. Sorry about the way my comment was phrased - you are right that there needs to be mutual policing. I think you let them off easily, though, because you appear to be asking them to justify a testing protocol in which they had no involvement.

      It might be more useful to seek their comment on the soundness of the selection protocol itself.

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    4. Sen - You have adequately demonstrated that the in-tournament testing selection protocol is non-random. However, does not the loser-targeted testing protocol not in fact actually increase the chances of catching the doper? In effect, the further you go into the draw, the greater the likelihood that you will be tested eventually. It goes to the extent that if you get to the semis, it's virtually guaranteed.

      Sorry to be a nuisance but you have yet to propose a hypothesis to explain this loser-targeting protocol.

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    5. First, the loser targeted protocol is the cheapest option since off-day testing of winners would require resources to track down players.

      More importantly, loser targeted testing almost guarantees that the winner of a grand slam event will never test positive (only a stupid person could screw this up). This is very valuable to tennis because it reduces greatly the risk that tennis would suffer the bad press that cycling has been going through with Tour champions testing positive. Imagine if it turned out that the eventual champion tested positive from a off-day test conducted in the first week of the tournament?

      Bottom line: Loser targeted testing is a form of risk mitigation.

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    6. From a practical point of view, that would necessitate that the finalists are "cleaned-out" before they play the final, correct? Is that possible? What detectable PEDs could be used in-tournament? How could 6 hour ultramarathon finalists possibly be clean of EPO or doped blood?

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    7. @michlob This is from the "Blood doping" article on Wikipedia:

      "Some success has also been realized in applying a specific test to detect EPO use. An inherent problem, however, is that, whereas pharmaceutical EPO may be undetectable in the circulation a few days after administration, its effects may persist for several weeks."

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    8. Hi Michlod,

      You're assuming that the players are tested for EPO. Take a look at the 2009 detailed ITF stats and you'll see that ZERO (0) tests for EPO were conducted at the Australian Open. There are very few EPO tests conducted at all the entire year: 4 at Roland Garros, 15 at Wimbledon, 2 at the US Open.

      Second, the players are most likely taking quick recovery products like synthetic testoserone, which clear after a few hours. EPO would have been used during pre-tournament training and already have cleared.

      Last, we don't even know the "selected menu" of tests that the ITF uses. We definitely know they aren't using the "full menu."

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  2. Might be worth collecting info on which national anti-doping agencies run their own OOC testing setup, a la Belgium.

    For example, UKAD don't test "at Wimbledon", but if they have an OOC remit does it suddenly stop existing during those 2 weeks? Does it only apply to British athletes, or those domiciled in Britain, or both? I found they have a "National Registered Testing Pool" of athletes that are subject to ooc testing, but not sure who qualifies for that.

    I wonder if Monaco has national dopetesting :-) Lots of tennis players based there.

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    1. Monaco is a signatory to WADA. Interestingly, they were found non-compliant in the latest compliance report, although no reasons are given: http://www.wada-ama.org/en/World-Anti-Doping-Program/Sports-and-Anti-Doping-Organizations/The-Code/Code-Compliance--Reporting/Compliance-Report---Nov---2011/

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    2. What does non-compliance mean, in practical terms?

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    3. As far as I know, you can't host the Olympics and there are other events you wouldn't be allow to host, too. There's other things, but I don't know.

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    4. I'm sure Monaco is just gutted at being unable to bid for the Olympics :-)

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  3. A couple of points. I just looked at the USADA website. Looks like they defer to federation governing the sport for test distribution planning:

    1. "In-Competition Testing Selection

    "In-Competition testing plans are primarily developed by coordinating with each National Governing Body (NGB) and are often in accordance with IF [International Federation] rules. Athletes may be selected for testing by USADA based on criteria that typically includes established rules set forth by each IF." http://www.usada.org/tdp/

    2. Also, from USADA, for non-Olympic years they don't appear to do much OOC testing. For example, in 2010, they only did 3 OOC for American tennis players. Two were for Wayne Odesnik (who was suspended for all of 2010) and one for Sam Querrey. http://www.usada.org/athlete-test-history

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  4. Anyone notice that Tomas Berdych has shaved his hair off... http://tinyurl.com/762s7wq

    I always get suspicious when these guys drastically alter their hair. I'm a conspiracy theorist through and through:)

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  5. Rafa and his friends (picture taken AFTER positive test).

    http://www.davidbisbalweb.com/images/nadal-bisbal-contador.jpg

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  6. Wow, Djokovic has won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award. Why play clean when doping is so lucrative and is rewarded? All the players might as well get on the band wagon. Look where is gets you!

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