Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stuart Miller Needs To Step Aside: Part II (Updated)

Part 1 is here.

Dr. Stuart Miller (2009, Wall Street Journal): "The whereabouts rule is a cornerstone of our policy...The only way to have an effective anti-doping policy is to know where a player will be to conduct random testing."

Let's put that to the test. Dr. Miller assumed control of the tennis anti-doping program in 2006. For that year, the ITF collected 150 out-of-competition (OOC) samples. In 2006, a total of 1,733 samples were collected, meaning that the OOC samples accounted for 8.7 percent of samples. Fast forward to 2011: the ITF collected 216 out-of-competition samples. That year a total of 2,150 samples were collected, meaning that OOC samples accounted for 10 percent of samples. Not bad for six years on the job, no?

No ITF players have been sanctioned for a positive OOC sample during the 2006-2011 period. Also, during this period, the ITF did not on its own motion sanction any players for whereabouts failures, although it did recognize a sanction passed by the Flemish Doping Tribunal against two ITF players (Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse). These players are currently in the process of appealing their whereabouts failures.

Does this look like a "cornerstone" of testing policy in professional tennis? Testing may only catch "dopey dopers," but the effort being put forth under Dr. Miller's watch is wholly inadequate.


Update

I found some notes on a 2010 WADA symposium at which Stuart Miller gave a presentation. According to the notes, the ITF is aiming for 3 OOC tests per 18 months per registered pool player. This is the minimum number of tests required to trigger a whereabouts violation, if a player missed all 3 tests. If accurate, these notes confirm why the ITF isn't triggering any whereabouts violations (or positive OOC results) as they're not even aiming for anything more than the bare minimum (and they're not even succeeding at hitting this low level as evidenced by the ITF's anti-doping statistics). If someone could track down a copy of Miller's presentation it would be helpful.





12 comments:

  1. How about this?

    Cyclist tests positive for EPO from an out of competition test: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/apr/17/denis-galimzyanov-doping-cycling?newsfeed=true

    Rugby player tests positive for testosterone from an out of competition test: http://www.irb.com/newsmedia/mediazone/pressrelease/newsid=2061812.html

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  2. And how about these recent announcements from the USADA:

    1. Patrick Mendes, 21, tested positive for hGH as the result of two separate samples collected on February 7, 2012, and February 27, 2012 as part of USADA’s Out of Competition Testing Program
    http://www.usada.org/media/sanction-mendes4162012

    2. Matt Kochem, of Somerset, N.J., an athlete in the sport of rowing, has accepted a one-year suspension for committing an anti-doping rule violation in which he failed to file whereabouts information.
    http://www.usada.org/media/sanction-kochem4132012

    3. Todd Robertson, 49, tested positive for a banned oxygen-enhancing peptide hormone as the result of a sample collected as part of USADA’s Out of Competition Testing Program on February 11, 2011.
    http://www.usada.org/media/sanction-robertson3302012

    Dr. Miller is not getting the job done. Time for a change of leadership.

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  3. I'm more and more convinced they've basically just decided to give up on OOC testing, for reason of resources. The current setup is nothing more than paying lip-service to wada requirements - an average one OOC test a year for top players is basically pointless when they can safely skip two in 18 months, and they'll know that well.

    It may be a bit cynical to concede to the OOC dopers, but being devil's advocate, perhaps those resources are better spent on IC testing? They do have an almost respectable number of those at least (even if flawed in predictability).

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  4. Arf, I agree that something needs to change as OOC testing should barely be called "testing" the way it's carried out at the moment. (No tests for Williams sisters in how many years now? Djokovic in 2011, "Superdjok 2.0", gets quite possibly one single OOC test - it being in October? Nadal bursting on the scene, as well as bursting out in muscles in 2005? Del Portro winning the USO after missing an OOC test? - None of these examples point to any increased amount of OOC target testing at all!)

    What needs to change however is not scrapping OOC testing altogether, understandable as it is to think this, but rather doubling, tripling, quintupling, the funding for OOC testing. Make it *real* OOC testing.

    As Richard Ings states, increased performance levels, increased body size, missing an OOC test, (and loads of other things) **should** result in increased target testing for an athlete.

    **But this does not happen in tennis.**

    This may well happen with Australian testing, and it may well be the theoretical goal of OOC testing. But one thing if for sure. It doesn't happen in tennis's testing.

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    Replies
    1. The problem's always going to be that 3 strikes rule - I worked out some base probabilities needed for a decent level of deterrence, and we'd need 10x as many OOC tests. Even then someone could carry on with offseason doping, and just stop only when they reached two strikes.

      What I want to know is when players skip tests, why aren't the testers automatically returning the next day?

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    2. We can conclude the testers aren't coming back because the ITF is not ordering a follow-up test in the event that no sample is collected. Why is the ITF not ordering immediate follow-ups by the testers? Well, that's a question for Stuart Miller.

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  5. A good read:

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/18042012/2/olympics-new-illegal-drugs-available-runup-games.html

    Howman said there were a number of reasons why national anti-doping agencies or international federations did not want samples analysed for EPO.

    "One, we don't want to pay the extra cost for EPO, two we don't think we have a problem in our sport and three, maybe, is we don't want to know what the results are going to be," he said.
    ____________________________________________________________

    So, which of the 3 reasons apply to Stuart Miller and the ITF?

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    Replies
    1. heh heh. Reaons 1 and 2 conciously. Reason 3 subconciously.

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  6. A bit further about whining, especially through the social media. If the ooc take place about 200 times a year, then it is about 1ooc per day. Whining through twitter, it can be a signal for other players close to the player tested to get prepared? You know the testing bodies are struggle with money, they would test multiple players within range maybe? Or perhaps the labs received the sample can predict where the samples come from, since only 1 ooc per day?

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    Replies
    1. Good point.

      Also if in say France or Spain, these guys are often friendly off court and could warn each other.

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    2. Could well be the case. Good point!

      (previously entered comment in the wrong place, can't seem to be able to delete it)

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  7. Sure but I don't see how you can stop a player who has been tested from tweeting, texting,posting to Facebook, or just calling a mate to give one person or the world a heads up.

    You will find that ooc testing by nados jumps across sports each testing session. For tennis it is more get a sample from one player by target then collect a few other non targeted samples from who he may be training with.

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