The next significant date is June 16, 2009. On that date, the ITF attempted an out-of-competition mission, but no sample was collected. This occurred with many top players in 2009, including Federer, Nadal, Roddick, and Serena's sister Venus. Unlike the case of Cavendish, the out-of-competition testing results for 2009 received minimal coverage from the tennis media and none of the players involved commented on the "no sample collected" tests.
For 2010, all we know is that the ITF did not collect an out-of-competition sample from Serena Williams. Were any attempts made?
For 2011, the ITF again did not collect an out-of-competition sample from Serena Williams. But we do know that on October 26, 2011 the ITF attempted to collect an out-of-competition sample from her. At the time, I asked the ITF about the attempted test. They gave an evasive response that indicated that no sample was collected and that they were investigating the incident. They wouldn't comment further on the case. However, the 2011 testing statistics confirm that, in fact, no sample was collected. Once again, unlike Cavendish, this story got minimal coverage (almost nothing from the tennis press) and Serena Williams never commented publicly about the incident. (If the 2010 and 2011 ITF test document links don't work try here)
Also, it should be recognized that from 2009 through the end of 3rd Quarter 2011 (latest data available) Serena Williams did not have an out-of-competition sample collected by the USADA.
This chain of events (and non-events) are important for two reasons:
1. According to the ITF's anti-doping code (Section 2.3): "Refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit to Sample collection after notification of Testing as authorised in applicable anti-doping rules, or otherwise evading Sample collection."
2. According to the ITF's anti-doping code regarding Out-of-Competition testing (Section 2.4): "...any combination of three Filing Failures and/or Missed Tests committed within an eighteen-month period, whether declared by the ITF or any other Anti-Doping Organisation with jurisdiction over the Player, shall constitute an Anti-Doping Rule Violation."
These rules and the facts raise some hard questions:
(1) Given that no sample was collected from Serena Williams on October 26, 2011, what happened? Did she refuse to provide a sample? If so, why was she not found to have committed an anti-doping violation as per section 2.3 of the ITF anti-doping rules?
(2) How is it possible that Serena Williams has gone almost three full years without an out-of-competition test from either the ITF and USADA? We know that there are at least two occasions in the past 36 months where out-of-competition testers did not collect a sample. Were any other attempts to test made (e.g., 3 or more within an 18 month period)? What about other players like Venus Williams and Na Li?
(3) What kind of credible anti-doping programme allows top athletes to go so long without collecting an out-of-competition sample?
(4) What does the WADA think about all of this?
(5) Where's the tennis media? As noted above, if this was cycling, it would be big news. I've yet to see any coverage of the latest ITF anti-doping statistical release.
Better check the storm shelters. They must be waiting for the skies to clear.
Update: Venus Williams and Na Li
Initially (see below), we looked at Serena Williams's recent out of competition (OOC) testing history. There are a couple of others with similar gaps: Venus Williams and Na Li.
The last recorded OOC ITF sample I could find for Venus Williams was September 28, 2008. Her last recorded OOC USADA sample was 4th Quarter 2008. She had no OOC sample collected by the ITF in 2009, 2010, or 2011. However, there was a "no sample collected" attempt on June 16, 2009 (the same day as Serena's "no sample"). Further, like Serena, there were no OOC samples collected from Venus by the USADA from 2009 through 3rd Quarter 2011 (latest data available).
Na Li had no OOC sample collected by the ITF in 2010 or 2011. Her last recorded OOC ITF sample: May 2, 2009.