Wednesday, June 6, 2012

AFLD v. ITF, Part 3: End Run

Last post we looked at "cultural omerta" in tennis, today we continue to look at the ITF's submissions on the WADA Code review. Below is a submission that relates to co-operation between anti-doping organizations. The ITF's submission (pp 5-6) is clearly prompted by the requests of the French anti-doping authority's (AFLD) requests to conduct testing at ATP/WTA/Grand Slam events.

My reading of the ITF's recommendation to the WADA on this item is that the ITF wants to make it more difficult for a national anti-doping body to test at an international federation event by giving an event's ruling body the opportunity of conducting the requested additional testing itself and by requiring "express permission" from the IF (or WADA). Why is the ITF against co-operating with other anti-doping organizations? Why do they want to stop other agencies from testing at their events?

Oh wait, I know why: The ITF doesn't like unpredictable testing. They want to protect their product. It's clear that the ITF is in a conflict of interest when it comes to doping control. It is clear that the AFLD is seeking to conduct a test distribution that does not overlap with the ITF's weak testing. Indeed, the fact is that other national federations (UKAD, ASADA, and the USADA) should be joining the AFLD in requesting the ability to test at tennis events.

The ITF (i.e., Stuart Miller and Francesco Ritti Bitti) needs to stop embarrassing itself and strike an agreement with the AFLD for additional testing. Alternatively, given the ITF's position, the AFLD can (and should) seek approval from the WADA to conduct additional testing. They can make a strong case for their request by simply showing the WADA the ITF's testing plan and pointing out the ineptness of the ITF's plan.

29 comments:

  1. The proposed language seems innocent enough on the surface. It just says that to the extent that other bodies want to see additional testing, the ITF would like the first option to conduct that testing. The problem is obviously that if you allow the ITF that right, it can bastardize the "additional testing" so that it is much less thorough than the testing the other body would've conducted.

    As a broader analysis, it's absurd to suggest that we have any assurance that the ITF can be objective in developing any testing program. It's really easy to say that you're objective and. There is a reason that a company's internal auditors are not the ones who sign off on financial statements. While internal auditors work diligently to remain independent of departments within their organization, governments recognize the inherent conflicts that must exist in potentially bringing to light wrongdoing by your organization (evidence that would harm the corporation as a whole). As a result, independent external auditors must sign off on the financials to assure the public that there is no evidence of material misstatements.

    I think the parallels between anti-doping testing and auditing are useful. It's fine to say that the ITF is committed to being truthful and diligent. Other avenues of life have shown that is not sufficient to give the public proper assurances.

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    1. Agree. Pretty obvious the AFLD's idea (i.e., test winner on off-days) of "additional testing" will not be the same at the ITF's idea (i.e., more loser-targeted tests).

      Related to your point on auditing, I've e-mail the WADA compliance division a few times, asking about how they assessed whether the ITF's test distribution was in compliance with the WADA Code (and International Standard for Testing). They never responded.

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    2. The only way to prevent the possibility of corruption (where corruption could simply mean a lack of testing, instead of hiding positive tests) is to have a truly independent body conduct ALL testing. Even that's not fool-proof, because I'm not naive enough to discount the politics that would take place between whatever that "body" would be and the current tennis administration. It would at least get closer to a system that would not be subject to manipulation. I don't have to accuse anyone of doing anything wrong to point out the potential flaws in the system. Some people either don't have the ability or the willingness to make that distinction.

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  2. And here comes the Omerta :

    http://www.tennis.com/articles/templates/thespin.aspx?articleid=18083&zoneid=32


    An article attacking those who are reading between the lines on Stosur.

    Tennis.com is in this up to it's eyeballs.

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    1. I thought Cibulkova's comments yesterday were a thinly veiled way of acknowledging what a lot of other people think re: Stosur's physique. They weren't a direct attack on Stosur's sexual orientation, a la Hingis's statement about Mauresmo years ago. Two different kettle of fish.

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    2. Tennis Channel is currently running a short (15 sec?) feature on Stosur during commercial breaks. Her voice sounds downright manly! I'm sure the sheep will argue that she must have been suffering from a cold, or something...

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    3. A classic example of omerta from the tennis media.

      If it were politics it would be recognised as 'media spin' ie get the party line out there quick to attack the criticism.

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  3. March of the oldies continues. We now have two 30yr olds in the Roland Garros semis - the last time there was even one was 1990.

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  4. One of them is Roger Federer, perhaps the best player of all times.

    Besides, what's the point of your post? Did you also research the number of 29year olds in semi finals of RG since 1970?

    Did you research statistics at other GS tournaments? Or you just focused on this one for the time being because it's more physically demanding.

    If the former, please let us know the statistics.
    If the latter, please pay attention to the players who have been most succesful at thisnsame tournament.

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    1. Someone else looked back further: this is the first time since 1969 that there were two 30+yr olds in the RG semis.

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    2. Please see a bit lower for my comment on that.

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  5. I only have a database of matches going back to 1990, so no more than that.

    Roland Garros semi finalists are mostly <25yr olds, because it's that demanding.

    The general point was that it fits with a sport where the top100 is aging at a rapid pace, and turning 30 no longer means anything. Rather like baseball in fact, another sport with basically no drugtesting, where this also happened.

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    1. On that point, how old was Barry Bonds when he broke the homerun record anyways? How old was McGuire? Both were well into their 30s, I think.

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    2. I think Barry Bonds was already 42-years old when he broke the home run record.

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    3. Barry Bonds was 37 years old when he set the single-season record for home runs (73) in 2001.

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    4. I try not to make comments talking about whether one player uses or doesn't use banned substances. I'll not comment either way about Federer. What is clear about his game in the past five years is that he has spells where he doesn't move as well as he did in his prime (as all of us do with age) and those spells have become longer and more frequent in the past few years (as they do for everybody around 30). His serve and forehand are two weapons that most players don't have that he can rely on when his movement is relatively poor. I've watched all of his matches in this event, and he looks to be really struggling physically.

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    5. One of the 30 year-olds in the SF is clearly on the decline and his worst results in GS events have occurred over the last 2 years and if not for a REAL, ACTUAL knee injury sustained by his opponent would have most likely lost yesterday....

      ....the other 30 year-old in the SF is playing the best tennis of his life and has bulging veins and is referred to by Brad Gilbert as an "energizer bunny" that he would "want on his side in the Tour de France"

      anyone care to guess which is which....or shall I say, cual es cual?

      ...and to Arf's point that the French is "that demanding" is it at all strange that 2 of the 4 semi-finalists in the French have played EVERY clay court tournament this year (one, in particular, coming off supposedly the worst flare-up of his supposed "knee injury") and are both the fittest and strongest and most dominant they've been all year (if not their entire careers) at the END of the clay season, showing absolutely ZERO signs of the grueling grind that is supposed to be clay court tennis?....and that they both just so happen to be from the same country...or shall I say del misma pais?

      ...and in regards to Sam te-Stosur-one it busts my gun to hear the announcers discuss her "kick serve" as if it's a talent that only she has on the women's side....every male player on tour has a "kick serve"...it isn't talent, it's strength

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    6. According to NY Times Chris Clarey: "1st time that 2 men age 30 or older have reached semis at ‪#FrenchOpen‬ since Rod Laver & Ken Rosewall 1969" https://twitter.com/christophclarey/status/210513028897193984

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    7. Fine, but is it relevant in the context of doping, or is it just an interesting piece of information.
      Statistics can be misleading.
      I went through Wikipedia, started from 1970 and saw one guy who won the tournament at the tender age of 34 (Andres Gimeno)
      Then in 1982, Higueras and Villas played the semifinals and were 29 and 6 months and 29 and 9 months respectively (if I can count correctly).
      So I stopped it there, because 30 to me doesn't sound so magic or significant compared to a few months younger.

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  6. @swiss: In Ferrer's case, it used to be he would play Monte Carlo and Barcelona back to back, the latter meaning so much to him, then he would be cooked in Rome and flop out early, then do little in Roland Garros also - this is actually his first ever semi.

    For example, 2009 he makes Barca final, 3 days later loses in R1 of Rome to Mathieu (who is not remotely in his class as a claycourter). Then the week after, loses r2 Estoril to Hernandez (a nobody), then after that Madrid R2 to Monaco.

    2008 Valencia (home town!), Monte Carlo, Barcelona back to back, then again frazzled for Rome, loses first match to Stepanek. Also out early in Hamburg the week after that.

    2007 ditto, loses R1 Rome to Andreev. 2006, R1 Rome loss to Acasuso.

    All this is fairly "normal" - players run out of gas after three weeks, and Ferrer was considered superfit even back then.


    Last couple of years, he no longer has this stamina problem. 2010 goes deep in all four clay events, including a Rome final. 2011 ditto, 2012 ditto.

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    1. so....we agree about Ferrer????

      ...and what of Nadal??...is it not suspicious to you that the "most grueling" surface always turns out the least grueling for Nadal??.....is it not odd that Nadal, save for the 2010 USO, holds serve easier on clay then he does on HC??....statistically speaking isn't he the only tennis player in the history of the world to do that??....do you have any plausible explanation for his, in his own words, more "painful" and "faster" forehand this clay season??....other than the obvious plausible explanation?

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  7. Arf, there is nothing wrong with playing in great form at 30 (Though Fed is actually in very poor form).

    I feel you are misleading this site in thinking that at 30 you should be on the decline and that only doping can keep you at the top. That's wrong.

    As explained tennis champs have had their career shorten by the new generation coming with new equipment. Not because their physique was weakening. I suspect a player can still do well till 32 or even 34. It's thereafter that the decline really speeds up...though I believe a player can still improve technically and his timing (Lendl said teh same). It's the recovering after tough matches that gets really tougher from 28 and gets worse thereafter. I suspect that's teh reason Federer lost many TMS finals he was in in 2009/2011 cause he had tough match in teh semi with no resting day between semi and Final....hence his loss v Delpo in that USO 2009.

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  8. BTW, It doesn't mean that Ferrer and Federer don't dope. That's not my point.

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  9. SwisshCheese, Federer seems to be carrying a niggle and that loss of form has little to do with his age. He was winning everything a few weeks ago.

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  10. Mrn10 - I've watched all of his matches in this event, and he looks to be really struggling physically.
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    Yes he is really struggling but it cannot be directly related to age. It's either his back or a groin muscle injury. He was already taking a drug in his final v Berdych and thought about pulling out of Rome. SO there is clearly something going on.

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    1. Agreed. I'm convinced it's the chronic back injury.

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    2. andrea....agree and disagree....I just think the injuries, or "niggles", happen more often due to the mileage and they affect him more due to the mileage....at age 25-26 back-to-back MS events didn't pose a physical problem....admittedly he did play quite a bit after the AO so I can see why IW wore him down a bit...but prior to Madrid he had been off for almost 5 weeks and if he was off that long and still managed to get hampered in Madrid I think that's a problem due to age....it wouldn't have happened four or five years ago.....Rome was odd...he looked somewhat pedestrian against a very pedestrian Ferrero but looked ridiculous against Seppi the next day....maybe Seppi was just especially nervous in front of the home crowd, but the got hammered....then against Djokovic, who I don't think is nearly as amped up as he was last year at this time, Federer looked pretty slow and weak in the first set and didn't look to have much left after rallying in the second..I think Djokovic took his foot off the accelerator, so to speak, in the second set.....I know one thing, though, and that is if Federer is hampered physically by injuries as opposed to age he is killing his chance to be healthy at Wimbledon and the Olympics, which I think we all know is the real goal of his this season....he can't possibly believe he can beat Nadal (or Djokovic, for that matter) and going out and getting run around for 3-4 sets by either or both of them can't be anything he wants to do before the biggest grass season of his career...

      ...I knew he was "winning everything a few weeks ago" but honestly do you think the Nadal he faced at IW is even in the same stratosphere as the AO Nadal or especially today's Nadal?.....and in that run he didn't face Djokovic, faced Un-Nadal once and Murray once on the fastest surface on tour at Dubai...

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    3. ...I knew he was "winning everything a few weeks ago" but honestly do you think the Nadal he faced at IW is even in the same stratosphere as the AO Nadal or especially today's Nadal?.....
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      I agree that his niggles and injury are age related but what I wanted to make clear is that 30 or even 31 should not show a proper drop of fitness if fit. I think hid 5 weeks break before Madrid did not him too good cause his body may have been a bit cool and he had to work pretty hard to beat Raonic, then Berdych on a slippery surface.

      I don;t think there is so much difference in the IW Nadal and the AO Nadal. Federer could have won the first 2 sets in the AO as well.....and Federer was particularly inspired in that IW semi.

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  11. Just enjoy the show. ITF has created monsters and they soon won't be able to control them, especially in men's side. Rolland Garros is now an exhibition event. I just hope the clean players do keep their choice to be clean at all times.
    Keep on pumping, Nadal! You're da man!

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