Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AFLD v. ITF (Updated: Proper Translation)

Interesting news from the French anti-doping authority. Once again, reader Vincent (thank-you) has provided us with a proper translation:
AFLD wants to "advance" on tennis
Usually shut down from the anti-doping procedures put in place at the Grand Slams, which includes Roland-Garros, AFLD wishes to be more present on the ATP and WTA tour events played in France. "Regarding the Grand Slams, the ITF wants to have a monopoly" explained Bruno Genevois, director of the agency. "But we want to advance on other tournaments. For starters, we expect some progress regarding the Bercy tournament." 

Ask yourself: Why is the ITF resisting the AFLD's request? Why does the ITF want a monopoly on testing at Grand Slam events? Was the ITF unhappy about the supplementary testing the AFLD conducted at Roland Garros in 2009?

16 comments:

  1. Yes, it's funny they want to get tougher on the French tournements like Bercy. Bercy will lose Nadal (again) and Djoko. Anyway That's the cycling down period so unlikley to catch anyone there.

    Not surprising indeed that the ITF don't want them in!

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  2. That was not very long :-). It's astonishing how, on hindsight, 2009 RG was an outlier. The coincidence of the AFLD managing, for the first and only time, to conduct its own tests, and all the Spaniards losing early, capped by a Fed win, is really amazing. It would be great to hear an AFLD insider tell the story of what happened behind the scenes.

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    AFLD wants to "advance" on tennis

    Usually shut down from the anti-doping procedures put in place at the Grand Slams, which includes Roland-Garros, AFLD wishes to be more present on the ATP and WTA tour events played in France. "Regarding the Grand Slams, the ITF wants to have a monopoly" explained Bruno Genevois, director of the agency. "But we want to advance on other tournaments. For starters, we expect some progress regarding the Bercy tournament."

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  3. There is a similar ongoing row in cycling between the UCL/ASO and the AFLD. It was significant that the largest number of positive tests occurred in the TDF when the was doing the testing.

    Now that the ASO is in the hands of the money men and the UCI they are doing all they can to keep the AFLD out.

    Andrea - The cycling down period is important in terms of developing bioprofiles. You might not catch anyone red handed but you'll have an idea what their blood etc looks like when they are not juiced to the gills. This means that when you test them next time at a major tournament and they aren't giving you a positive test, but are giving your wacky scores that are out of line with you can accuse them of blood manipulation.

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    1. Good point. But between having "an idea" of their natural metabolism and nailing someone there is unfortunately a big gap.

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  4. In the WADA Code, the organisers of a competition have first option to conduct testing. If the competition organisers decline to conduct testing then other parties such as the AFLD can do in competition testing.

    So the ITF as the event organiser have first right to conduct in-competition testing at RG. The AFLD can do in comp testing if the ITF declined to test.

    This aspect of the WADA Code ensures that athletes are not subject to multiple tests on the same day at the same event by different organisations which is a waste of everyones time and resources. Before this priority system for in-comp testing was introduced, it was common for anti-doping testers from multiple agencies to be queuing up to test the same athlete at the same event on the same day.

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    1. Richard,

      It is pretty that the ITF doesn't want the AFLD to conduct targetted off-day testing of players as they did in 2009. The ITF would rather conduct their inefficient and, more importantly, predictable loser-targeted testing distribution. Such predictable testing gives in-competition dopers a free ride.

      The ITF and AFLD could come to an agreement on supplementary testing like they did in 2009. The ITF's refusal to do so speaks volumes about their lack of commitment to keep tennis clean. They are about protecting the image of tennis.

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    2. Here's a story about 2009 ITF-AFLD agreement. Clearly, the WADA allows organizations to collaborate on testing: http://bit.ly/JwbIHQ

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    3. Richard Ings has no good answer to your points

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  5. Just a couple of quick questions:

    - Can some one explain why it's practically useless to test the losers? Surely if they're doping while in competition, the player surely knows there's a chance that they can lose & they will be tested.
    BTW, I'm in agreement that not testing outside of tournaments is bizarre!

    - Since testing is so lax, is there a way one could spot a long term user, besides such things as muscle mass, extreme endurance etc - typically qualities that cannot be explained away by "that guy trains 12 hrs daily, so he's extremely fit blah blah blah". I guess what I'm looking for are abnormalities that we can attribute to PED usage. There must be some biological side-effect to long-term use.

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    1. Kenny,

      On the loser-testing, the testing is useless because it is predictable. For example, let's say you're a doper, and you just played a tough 4 or 5 set match. You now know with 100 percent certainty that you won't get tested unless you lose your next match.

      At a grand slam event, you have a day off between matches, so your next match will be 36-48 hours away. Now you have all the information you need to go to your doping doctor to get dosages of recovery drugs that will clear your system in time for you to test clean if you lose.

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    2. Sen, thanks for the clarification, I forgot all about the clearing drugs & the fact that the testing is so darn predictable. It's akin to knowing where the police have set their speed traps, one only has to adjust one's velocity accordingly to avoid detection.

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    3. Testing only the losers is very predictable (even if you are unsure if you will win or lose). I dumped that form of testing soon after starting with the ATP in 2005. I preferred what I called swoop testing. In this form of testing, testers would arrive on a targeted day and collect a bunch of samples from winners, losers or players just with a day off. Some tests would be target tests based on intel.

      And just for good measure, to remove the belief that if the testers swoop on Wednesday they will not return, every now and then during the year they would return. Maybe on a Friday to test winners and losers again.

      My best recollection is a swoop test conducted on quarterfinal day of 3 tournaments played on 3 different continents where we collected blood and urine from all 8 quarterfinalists both winners and losers.

      Predictability of testing is a big open window to doping in any sport.

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    4. Richard,

      If that's the case, why did Stuart Miller reject your "swoop" testing and reinstitute the very predictable loser-targeted testing distribution?

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    5. I think Dr Miller has to strike a balance. When I ran the ATP program I only had to focus on ATP events. That makes it easier. Before I started ATP testing focused on the Masters Series only. I dropped that and spread the testing looking at lead in events to Slams, risk profiles of players and blood testing.

      Dr Miller has to deal with a concept called "protecting the prize". This is a political reality that applies to major events like Slams or particularly the Olympics. With protecting the prize, major event organisers view all participants as in need of testing. A first round losers cheque at Wimbledon is more than winning most tournaments. Hence the loser testing concept like what happens at the Olympics when medalists are tested.

      Look there is nothing wrong with this. it is a perfectly reasonably test distribution strategy. But like any such strategy if it becomes routine then it loses its deterrence value. Even swoop testing becomes routine if you did it all the time.

      What is important is to mix up the TDP so it is always unpredictable.

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  6. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/magazine/05/29/baseball.steroids/index.html?&hpt=hp_c1


    A look at baseball and steroids.


    Of course tennis is way different.

    - Steroids wouldn't help a tennis player, because you need "hand-eye" coordination.
    - Tennis is a "gentlemans game", therefore these tennis "gentlemen" would never cheat.
    - EPO wouldn't help a tennis player, because stamina isn't important in tennis.
    - Tennis players get "tested all the time".
    - It would be nearly impossible to dope in tennis with all of the travelling.
    - Only the lower level players would ever thinki of cheating.
    - I bet that no more than 1% to 2% of tennis players use PEDs.
    - The ITF is VERY committed to route out all PED use, without excuses (like - it is too expensive, you have to work within the politics of the situation, drug testing can't do much in itself,...).

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    1. The top players have good hand eye coordination, what if they cheat? It will result them to get the 10-20% difference needed to be number 1.

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