Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stuart Miller Needs To Step Aside: Part V

See Parts I (here), II (here), III (here), and IV (here).

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the trend in blood testing conducted by the ITF's anti-doping program from 2006 (the year Dr. Stuart Miller assumed responsibility for administering the program) through 2011. All data (see end of post) are from the ITF's anti-doping webpage.

Blood testing has decreased by 33 percent during Dr. Miller's tenure.


In a remarkable turn of events, the ITF conducted fewer blood tests (both in-competition and out of competition) in 2011 than it did in 2006. How's that for progress? I'd be interested in hearing Dr. Miller's explanation regarding this troubling decline, representing a 33 percent decrease in blood testing since 2006.

The trend under Dr. Miller is made more astounding and disturbing given that last year the President of the WADA stated: "Of growing concern is the reluctance of Code signatories to undertake blood testing. Many performance enhancing drugs can only be detected by blood analysis and insufficient analysis of blood samples almost guarantees some doping cheats will succeed." It is clear that tennis is one of these reluctant signatories. What is going on in the tennis anti-doping program? Why has the ITF made it easier for doping cheats to succeed by reducing blood analysis?

In contrast, cycling went from just 4 out of competition blood tests in 2006 to over 4,981 out of competition blood tests in 2010. During the same time period, cycling went from 51 in-competition blood tests to 627 tests. Why is tennis going in the opposite direction?

The question remains: Why does Dr. Stuart Miller have responsibility for administering the ITF's anti-doping program? From his views on doping and tennis, to his actions on transparency, to the trend in blood tests, he has shown that he is not up to the task. How can the public and clean players have confidence in this program?

Dr. Miller should step down from his anti-doping responsibilities without delay. And the ITF should do the right thing and create a separate anti-doping unit with an enhanced budget and expert personnel.

The Data

ITF Anti-Doping Statistics: Blood Testing 2006-2011
Year In-competition Out-of-Competition Total
2006 163 32 195
2007 180 15 195
2008 157 0 157
2009 135 0 135
2010 140 10 150
2011 110 21 131

31 comments:

  1. Steve Tignor comments on Mr. Miller's interview.

    http://tennisworld.typepad.com/thewrap/

    "Talking Anti-Doping
    The Tennis Space has an interview with Dr. Stuart Miller, who heads the ITF’s anti-doping program. It’s not easy to get much out of the ITF on the subject, and Miller sticks to tried and true answers here about how the organization does its work. At one point, though, he claims that all of the tests are unannounced, though most of them are done at tournaments after a player loses.

    Next project for the Top 4: More money for tennis’s underfunded anti-doping program.
    "


    So Steve hints at the same things that we have been saying here (that tennis's testing is underfunded, not frequent enough, and too predictable to catch anyone).

    I guess that Steve is a conspiracy nut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tignor has usually been receptive to the idea of dope testing necessities. Not always and not to the proper extent, but more than most. Unlike the clown Bodo who smirks at any dope problem suggestion, says PEDs don't help tennis (absurd suggestion), and ridicules the Puetro investigation as being "old news" and therefore, somehow, irrelevant. In fact he is MORE of a joke than any clown.

      Delete
    2. To "mrsn10sdave," your arguments seem generally well-reasoned. I only have one problem: you stole my screen name and spelled it incorrectly. Would you care to explain? Thanks.

      Delete
  2. This paragraph:

    " The question remains: Why does Dr. Stuart Miller have responsibility for administering the ITF's anti-doping program? From his views on doping and tennis, to his actions on transparency, to the trend in blood tests, he has shown that he is not up to the task. How can the public and clean players have confidence in this program? "

    sums up the situation perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Another twist in Malisse-Wickmayer:

    Wickmayer / Malisse case : procedure suspended

    In the arbitration case involving the two Belgian tennis players, Yannina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse, as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Flemish Tennis Federation, the situation is the following:

    •WADA has decided to withdraw its appeals against the two players following the decision of the Belgian Conseil d’Etat to invalidate the Flemish antidoping decree for formal reasons.

    •The procedure between the two players and the Flemish Tennis Federation has been suspended and the hearing which was initially scheduled to take place on 30 May 2012 has been cancelled, for the same reasons.

    •The decision of the Belgian Conseil d’Etat was issued after the Swiss Federal Tribunal recognised the jurisdiction of CAS to rule on this matter.

    http://www.tas-cas.org/en/infogenerales.asp/4-3-5868-1092-4-1-1/5-0-1092-15-1-1/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Blood testing is incredibly important these days. There are banned substances hand methods that only a blood test will have any chance of detecting.

    Blood testing has always been a political sore point (pardon the players) with the players. While you will not find Dr Miller commenting publicly I would strongly suspect he would both agree on the need for more blood testing and be pushing internally with the ATP/WTA and their player councils for more blood testing to take place.

    But don't expect him to come out and publicly corner the players. Politically that just doesn't work across the tennis family of stakeholders. He will be working the back channels and corridors trying to drum up support for more blood testing as well as more OOC testing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given the trends and Dr. Miller's views, I strongly suspect that Dr. Miller is doing none of the things mentioned above. His position on anti-doping in tennis is crystal clear. He doesn't (want to?) believe there are doping problems, and the testing program reflects this view of the world. It's just that simple.

      So, the responsibility of the decrease in blood tests lies with him. And let's not forget that the ITF anti-doping budget had a surplus of funds in 2009 and 2010, so money wasn't the problem. Why did the blood testing decrease in the first place?

      It's clear that Miller (and those above him at the ITF) do not have the will to tackle anti-doping appropriately. This is the most direct and logical explanation for what is going on. There needs to be a complete cultural change at the ITF.

      Also, the WADA needs to send some observer teams to ITF events (i.e., a Master levels and a Grand Slam) and also do an audit of the ITF"s test distribution plan. Their findings and report should be published.

      Delete
    2. Richard Ings,
      You can't have it both ways. If "I strongly suspect" is good enough for you to exonerate Stuart Miller's insufficient approach to anti-doping efforts in tennis, then "I strongly suspect that Nadal and Serena Williams are dopers," should be taken just as seriously (more so, since there are specific reasons to suspect them and you provide no reason other than your implied familiarity with him to make your case). You are in effect saying that more blood testing needs to be done, Stuart Miller knows it, but he won't do anything about it because players don't like it (but not because they are doping, of course). In five years, he has been working so many "back channels and corridors to drum up support for more blood testing as well as OOC testing" that there is less testing than when he started and some players are getting away with no out of competition testing for years at a time. Are you suggesting there would be even less testing if it wasn't for him?

      Delete
    3. I would strongly suspect he would both agree on the need for more blood testing and be pushing internally with the ATP/WTA and their player councils for more blood testing

      Now who's putting forth baseless speculations without a shred of evidence? It doesn't look to be the "conspiracy theorists" this time, Mr. Ings.

      I appreciate that you know the man personally and would like to put a good face on his performance, but if this really is the best defense you can muster, my advice would be that you quit while you're ahead for his sake.

      What exactly are these vague "back channel" initiatives Dr. Miller carries out behind closed doors? Does he don a mask after hours and run around like Batman, fighting dopers under a secret identity? Can you give us any details at all?

      Even if the scenario you paint is true, it's a damning indictment of the organization. If the ITF's top anti-doping official has no choice but to publicly claim that doping doesn't give athletes an advantage in tennis, and can only tiptoe around behind the scenes making "internal efforts" to get the ATP and the players to be more cooperative in the fight against doping, then he's little more than a cipher who has no real power whatsoever.

      Clearly the true power rests with someone higher up--someone who has no interest in fighting PED use in tennis, and who may actually be motivated to cover up instances of PED use when they are discovered.

      Michael Ashenden resigned from the APMU because they wanted him to sign a confidentiality agreement not to give his personal opinion on his work interpreting blood profiles.

      Are similar agreements used at the ITF? Might Dr. Miller be under such an agreement? Were you yourself ever under such an agreement or asked to sign such an agreement? Did you ever hear of such an agreement being signed by someone else?

      That would at least provide a semi-plausible explanation for his statements which SnR has quoted at length and for your insistence that he is doing the best he can, and your cryptic claims that his statements do not match his intentions.

      Then again, if you did sign such an agreement, I expect that the agreement itself would prevent you from being able to talk about the agreement. That would pose an obstacle to your giving us a straightforward answer.

      So blink once if the answer is no, blink twice if the answer is yes. Then we'll know what's really up.

      Delete
  5. Maybe we can start ITFhaslowtestingbudget.blogspot.com and start raising fund for them?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ings's comments are beginning to wear a little thin. Starting to look like a PR job at this point. I mean, you honestly think the good doctor gives a flying **** when his bills are paid and tennis is making more money now than ever?

    Sorry, but money talks and walks and lies and cheats and steals. Look at America. Look at the world and the way the financial world has fallen. It's all lies and cheats covered up by the fact the overseers are either incompetent or in on the job themselves. Look at Sports in general and the large influx of drugs and the way these drugs draw people to the sport still to this day. Until there is massive public opposition or some delightful whistleblower everything is let to be catered to by the wolves in the hen houses. So it is and so it will always be.

    Tennis is roiding no doubt about it. Never before have players played 5 set matches almost back to back and looked like they did in the last few tournies coming off of those grueling duels. Has Ings ever played competitive tennis? Has the good doctor? No way in hell the guys or girls are playing like that without drugs. As long as the money keeps rolling in and apologists like Ings can settle a few difference here and there nothing will be done about it. NOTHING.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Roger Federer's interview to Swiss newspaper Le Temps, April 28.
    Q: what would be the worst thing that would happen to tennis?
    A: ... The worst would be to have someone doping, or to hear shocking news about a player...


    I love Roger, but I disagree. This would be the best for tennis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect it's rather a common attitude.

      Of course, the longer tennis fails to implement serious testing, the larger the % of top players using will get ..... and the worse the fallout will get when it does all eventually blow up.

      Baseball was like this for a long while, the denial of the obvious. By the time it actually did all unwind, pretty much all the top players were dopers.

      Delete
    2. I think that says it all. Tennis is afraid that if they catch a doper it will be the "worst thing that could happen." If that is the premise, then they will do everything in their power to prevent that from happening.

      Delete
    3. Indeed. And the best way to prevent it from happening is to design a pathetic testing regime.

      Delete
    4. What Roger says is EXCACTLY what a doper would say (assuming the quote wasn't taken out of context).



      A clean player would say "the worst thing would be if tennis is full of drug cheats, and the authorities were covering it up".

      A doper says "the worst thing that could happen is that someone gets caught, because the publicity would be damaging".

      I am losing more and more respect for Roger every day.

      Delete
    5. I've said this a couple of times and I'll say it again now: The tennis anti-doping program is so abysmal that NO player is above suspicion.

      I think the quote one would like to read from a clean player is: "The worst thing to happen to tennis would be if a lot of players are doping, but our anti-doping program is failing to catch any of them. I realize that testing won't catch everybody, but if our testing program is sub-standard we should be investing the resources to make the program as stringent as possible."

      Delete
    6. Couple of points

      I have made several suggestions for improving the tennis program from more ooc testing, more blood testing, to better whereabouts followup testing. All programs have room for improvement.

      I have worked with Dr Miller extensively and find the vitriole misplaced. He knows and understands the issues well and is working within the politics of tennis to strengthen the program.

      Don't underestimate the politics of tennis. And not that anyone is covering up ped use or turning a blind eye. But a disbelief that significant problems exist. I have said that crisis builds response. If a top ranked athlete in any sport were caught doping it is never a bad thing but normally a catalyst for action.

      And yes every anti doping agency I worked with had a confidentiality requirement as a condition of employment. It relates to being unable to disclose matters surrounding cases. This confidentiality is also a requirement in the WADA code. And at ASADA breaking confidentiality on cases was a criminal offense punishable by 2 years prison. These confidentiality requirements do not extend to general anti doping comments. Restrictions here are based on conditions of employment. At ASADA policy was that only the CEO could comment to the media. This is common policy in government agencies. For IF's normally the head of communications is the gatekeeper on media comment.

      Delete
    7. Richard,

      What are the politics of tennis? Who's calling the shots, if not Dr. Miller? What is behind the reduction in blood testing (which is an unambiguous weakening of the program)? This all sounds rather shadowy and the kind of stuff from which conspiracy theories are born.

      Delete
    8. "I have said that crisis builds response. If a top ranked athlete in any sport were caught doping it is never a bad thing but normally a catalyst for action."

      The problem is, Richard, that the system is structured in such a way as to ensure that this never happens.

      The testing system is so weak that a big star will never be caught. They know this and so dope with impunity. They know that they are too financially valuable to the sport to be busted.

      Miller is just another Omerta upholder, just like Anne Gripper. People who sold out any integrity they might have had to become mealy mouthed party hacks. Thank god for Michael Ashenden.

      Why the vitriol? Because people who should be doing more are not. Because the people who should be cleaning up the sport choose to sit on their hands, collect their paycheck and keep quiet.

      I am quite sure that if the ITF wanted to pop big name dopers they could, but the reality is that they don't.

      Delete
  8. - What is the worst thing that could happen to tennis? A still growing similarity ( uniformisation) of court surfaces and playing styles?
    - There is still no danger there. Each of us can emphasize more a particular tournament and a particular surface. And even if we are obliged to play a bit on all of them. No, the worst thing for tennis would be to have someone doping or some shocking news linked to a player. As far as surfaces and quickness, of course it would be good to have a greater diversity, but it's not a serious problem.

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  9. uhhh.....unless I forgot how to read Federer didn't use the words "getting caught"...he stated "The worst would be to have someone doping"....where in that quote is he stating that "getting caught" would be the worst thing?....the quote may be incorrect, but if it's correct he is clearly stating that a player's doping would be the worst thing, not a player's getting caught doping.....if you think Federer's doping that's fine with me but don't put words in his mouth....stating that players doping is the worst thing that could happen to the sport is "EXACTLY what a doper would say"????

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    Replies
    1. I agree swisscheese. And let's not forget that this is a translation probably from Swiss German so we don't really know how accurate it is. I don't think a doper would say that. In fact a doper wouldn't even bring up the subject.

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    2. Furthermore, Federer is certainly accurate if he did say the worst thing that could happen to the sport would be to have someone doping because it's happening and yes it is ruining the sport. But he should probably have added "and it's being covered up by the authorities" but let's get real folks, that would be opening up a huge can of worms that would be virtual professional suicide.

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    3. swisscheese40: nobody else here "forgot how to read" either- on the contrary; way too many went a step further in their "reading skills" and have mastered the art of reading-into and reading-out-of, so that they can apply whichever of these two skills presently happens to "help" their noble cause. These processes take place un-/subconsciously, of course, so that the conscience is lulled to sleep and cannot shout out: "Hey, this also is cheating, and you are (I am) supposed to be against the dirty practice in any form whatsoever!".
      Lopi: as for the first reply - good thinking; as for the first part of the second one - the same; but, as for the second part - no, he could not, and, moreover, should not have added "and it's being covered up by the authorities", simply because in the real world (of which, for instance, Mr. Ings speaks), and not the virtual one (in which the "skilful readers" and the like operate) one has actually got to back up one's accusations with hard evidence - especially if one is, in any way, professionally involved with the issue on hand. Such a statement of his would, though, no doubt, immensely please the noble, valiant, and above all intelligent majority of the crowd inhabiting the latter world... well, for a couple of days, at least.

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  10. I think the quote one would like to read from a clean player is: "The worst thing to happen to tennis would be if a lot of players are doping, but our anti-doping program is failing to catch any of them. I realize that testing won't catch everybody, but if our testing program is sub-standard we should be investing the resources to make the program as stringent as possible."
    ----------------------------

    Can't agree with this SnR!

    First that Roger mentions doping is pretty amazing in itself? It's daring as he is almost suggesting that big name some dope, which is really strange in my view. That's saying too much already. He coudl have said gambling, tanking, having draws fixed (which we now know to be true), etc...

    Criticising the anti-doping system as useless woudl be stupid as a top athlete and he si perfectly right not to allude at doping even though you and I know doping is common practice, at least for some.

    Federer is a tennis player, what he just said is already quite surprising and daring. It's almost an acknoledgement that big names are doping!

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  11. Richard Ings,
    I can't believe you are still trying to defend Miller. You have already admitted that drug testing is inadequate and it has become less stringent under his tenure. You have already admitted that players serve silent suspensions after testing positive. You have already admitted that the politics of the ITF and ATP is that they should not have better testing. And what organization is going to admit that they don't test because they don't want to catch anyone? The only way that players would be upset about more drug testing is if they are doping themselves, or if they think that no one else is doping because it doesn't help performance so the testing is a waste of time. I don't think anyone believes that (other than perhaps Stuart Miller). There is no way that a player who is clean is going to sit quietly when he/she loses millions of dollars in prize money to someone they believe is doping and then complain that there is too much drug testing. This doesn't even make the least bit of sense. Such a player would be begging for more stringent drug testing. The "politics" involved are that those running tennis do not want to have a doping scandal and players don't want to get caught. That is undeniable logic. There really isn't another plausible scenario.

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  12. mrsn10sdave wrote:
    What Roger says is EXCACTLY what a doper would say (assuming the quote wasn't taken out of context).
    ...
    A doper says "the worst thing that could happen is that someone gets caught, because the publicity would be damaging".
    _____________________________________________________________

    I disagree totally. A doper would never ever bring it up in the first place. Forget not that Federer said this umprompted (in fact he was actually prompted to talk about surfaces being similar, but chose to bring up doping instead). And he basically meant that the worse thing for tennis would be if it turned out someone (a top player, I assume he meant) was doping.

    i.e. Federer hopes that the top players *aren't* doping, and if it turned out they were, the fact that they were all along would be the worse thing. He doesn't mean "catching" someone who is already doping would be the worse thing, but rather that the fact that it turns out there "are" dopers (as opposed to a clean sport) would be the worse thing.

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  13. Mistery, Although I didn't know what to make of Roger's statement, I believe your interpretation makes sense.

    Also agree with Andrea and Lopi. Explicitly criticizing the antidoping system would be suicidal (remember the lynching of Noah).

    That would distract him from achieving his goals this year. Although I believe he unfortunately won't reach them and he underestimates once again what he's up against.

    ReplyDelete
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