Dr. Stuart Miller is Executive Director of the ITF's Science and Technical Department. This department has responsibility for the administration of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme. Dr. Miller has been in charge since 2006. Here are his views on doping in the sport:
Dr. Stuart Miller (2007, ITF World): "Elite sport is lucrative for players and there have been instances in other sports where the temptation to reach the top by unfair means has been too great. However, we have no evidence that it’s the case in tennis. Tennis is a difficult sport to categorise in terms of its physiological demands and therefore the type of substances that players could see as key to giving them success. Tennis has a number of contributors to success. It has endurance, speed, agility but it also has skill. You can’t be a great player without a significant amount of skill, and that in itself helps tennis be a little more confident that there isn’t widespread abuse of designer substances that we don’t yet know about."
Dr. Miller (2009, Slate): "It may be that tennis is not conducive to EPO...Maybe tennis is not a sport that is driven by a need to maximize stamina, which is what EPO essentially does."
Dr. Miller (2009, Slate): "[Tennis] doesn't lend itself to any one particular kind of performance enhancement."
Dr. Miller (2009, New York Times): “You normally see that in sports where you are trying to maximize some element of physiological performance, like strength, power, stamina, speed...They’re [tennis players] good at all of those things...But they’re not trying to maximize those things.”
Dr. Miller (2012, International Tennis Magazine): "In tennis there's nothing that you're maximizing particularly. I stand by the notion that tennis is not obviously lending itself to a particular category of performance-enhancing products."
Should a person who hold Dr. Miller's views be in charge of managing the ITF's anti-doping program? The clear answer is no. A person with his views cannot be the person responsible for managing the sport's anti-doping program (e.g., test distribution planning). There is no room for debate about this.
Tennis players can benefit from PEDs in almost every way possible: stamina (e.g., EPO), strength (e.g., anabolic steroids), recovery (e.g., testosterone), agility (e.g., stimulants), and so on. Moreover, players have more than ample means, motive, and opportunity to use them. To suggest otherwise is implausible.
Miller should step down from his anti-doping duties. Further, responsibility for the ITF's anti-doping program should be removed from his department and set-up as a stand-alone unit. This needs to happen immediately. I nominate Michael Ashenden to head the program.
April 16th Update
It's been over a year since Wayne Odesnik had his HGH ban suspended after making a deal with the ITF. At the time, Dr. Stuart Miller told Greg Couch the following about Odesnik's assistance: "The magnitude of that will take some time to be fully determined...No, I can't provide you with that (specifics on what Odesnik said) for obvious reasons, because of the sensitive nature of the information provided. Any investigations (resulting from) that information would be compromised."
Let's get this straight: Dr. Miller thinks tennis is clean and believes "that tennis is not obviously lending itself to a particular category of performance-enhancing products." However, when Odesnik is caught in possession of HGH, Miller makes a deal with him "on account of ongoing Substantial Assistance provided by Mr Odesnik in relation to the enforcement of professional rules of conduct."
First, why is Miller cutting deals given his views on the usefulness and prevalance of PEDs in tennis?
More importantly, where are the results of this "substantial assistance"? There have been a handful of anti-doping rule violations by ITF players since the Odesnik deal was announced. None of the violations have been linked (or remotely appear to be linked) to Odesnik. All were players of little renown and no hardcore PED use was uncovered. There was a rumour that Odesnik gave information leading to Daniel Koellerer's match-fixing ban, but this was never confirmed. However, it's hard to believe Odesnik would get reinstated a year early for information on Koellerer because Koellerer was already on the ITF's radar for betting (and previously disciplined).
Overall, with no discernible payoff after over a year, it seems that Dr. Miller struck a poor deal with Odesnik. Also, the lack of results from the case makes other ITF anti-doping penalities for lesser substances (and/or "unintentional" use) look excessively harsh (e.g., Robert Kendrick's original 1-year suspension for a jetlag pill containing methylhexaneamine, which was reduced on appeal). Further, the absence of tangible (or any) results from the Odesnik deal could hamper the ability of the ITF when seeking bans for future violations (i.e., you can bet future players caught for doping violations will point to the Odesnik incident when discussions about ban length come-up at Tribunal).
Therefore, we must ask again: What kind of anti-doping program is Dr. Miller running?
April 15th Update
Here's another excerpt from the 2007 ITF World magazine interview with Dr. Stuart Miller (which is posted on the ITF's anti-doping webpage):
[Jonathan Overend] Q: So do you believe it’s a clean sport?
[Dr. Miller] A: You would have to draw that conclusion. It would be naive to think we catch every person who is engaged in doping; however, based on the principles that we’re operating within the programme, the record in 2006 is certainly indicative of a clean sport. And you need a comprehensive test programme to demonstrate whether you have a clean sport or not.
What kind of anti-doping manager would assert their sport is clean based on a single year's testing results? Second, we all know that a "comprehensive test programme" is not how one should describe the tennis anti-doping program. Third, as David Howman has stated, testing only catches "dopey dopers" not sophisticated dopers (Richard Ings has made similar comments on this blog).
Again these comments raise serious questions about the ITF's anti-doping program: Should a person with Dr. Miller's views be in charge of managing the ITF's anti-doping program? As a tennis fan (or a clean player, or the WADA), would you feel that the ITF's anti-doping program is doing all it can to keep the sport clean with someone holding these views at the helm?
April 13th Update: More from Twitter Land
Does anyone agree with Dr. Stuart Miller?
Addendum: Sound Familiar?
Barry Bonds (2005): "I don't know if steroids are going to help you in baseball. I just don't believe it. I don't believe steroids can help eye-hand coordination [and] technically hit a baseball."
Jason Giambi (2002): "Steroids don't help you hit a baseball."