Saturday, June 2, 2012

Conte/Yesalis def. Wertheim/Courier: 6-0 6-0 6-0

Jim Courier: "There’s not a part of me that thinks these guys are doing anything illegal."

Jon Wertheim: "When you declare a contemporary athlete clean, you do so at your own peril. But it’s not just unlikely that a top tennis player’s success or muscles or stamina is the product of anything other than genetics and industriousness. It’s damn near impossible."



Charles E. Yesalis, a professor of sports science at Penn State University: "Testing catches the careless and the stupid...If you believe only 1 to 2 percent use drugs, that is incredibly naïve. Drug use is the greatest problem facing elite sports, and testing creates the facade that everyone is clean...The major breakthroughs have come from law enforcement, not by any testing. Testing is there to provide the fan, who is already disinterested in drug use, with plausible deniability because the leagues tell the fans the athletes are clean because they have drug testing."

Yesalis: "These guys (professional athletes) hire scientific handlers, the serious ones. Most of them don’t do cowboy chemistry. They don’t look on the Internet and do it themselves [...] If you get a good chemist and you know the frailties of the test you could use the stuff [HGH]."

18 comments:

  1. While about American Baseball back in the "era," this is an interesting read about steroid use.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/magazine/05/29/baseball.steroids/index.html

    Aside from the massive guilt he felt, here is what hit me the most:

    [Dan] Naulty's jacked-up body started breaking down. In August his arm suddenly went numb; he was shelled in two appearances before doctors figured out he was suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which his first rib was pressing upon an artery. Doctors went through his neck to cut out the rib. In 1997, Naulty tore his right triceps. The year after that his groin muscle ripped off his pelvis. By then he weighed 240 pounds, 60 more than he did when he was drafted six years before. His body wasn't built to handle such muscle mass.

    Is Tennis next?

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    1. I posted that SI article in the last post of Jon Wertheim. It's a proven that injuries spiked during the steroid era:

      http://thesteroidera.blogspot.ca/2006/08/correlation-between-steroids-injuries.html

      "Between 1992 and 2001 the number of players on the DL rose from 352 to 465, a 32% increase. Days spent on the DL went from 17920 to 27779. Players were also hurt more severely. Days spent on the DL per injury increased 55% over that span..."

      "...Injuries that were rarely problems before baseball’s steroid era were now almost common: patellar tendonitis, strained rib cages (oblique strains), torn hamstrings, ruptured Achilles tendons, and torn rotator cuffs. These injuries occur when (oversized) muscles rip away from ligaments and joints that can no longer accommodate them."

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    2. SNR,

      Sorry for the duplication. My bad...

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    3. @Spartina,
      Nothing to feel bad about. I've been posting a lot of content this week.

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  2. I think Yesalis summed up my view on doping in tennis better than I could do so myself.

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  3. If Richard is hanging around here, I have a question. Isn't most of the money for testing spent on testing, as opposed to sample collection? If so, couldn't we require players to give samples much more frequently during OOC periods and then randomly only test a few of those samples during a year for each player? That would help keep testing within budget and also maybe make players think twice about doping during OOC periods if there is even a small window where they could test positive. It seems accepted at this point that IC testing will almost always fail due to micro-dosing of sophisticated dopers. Any thought?

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    1. mrn10sdave,

      It's my view that budget is not the issue. It is a matter of will. I mean, how is it that athletics and swimming can conduct many time more out of competition tests than tennis? Tennis has way more money than these sports.

      See the stats here: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/2012/01/epic-fail-out-of-competition-testing-in.html

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    2. I'm just assuming that they are acting with a limited budget and want to solve the problem, which I don't think they do. I would think that taking far more samples than you actually test during OOC periods would act as a more appropriate shield against doping. If you know that there's no chance you can dodge whereabouts, then you have to be more concerned with testing positive.

      Just think about a player who expects to be tested twice OOC during a year. He can try to be elusive, and he knows that his potential positive test window is short anyway. To take the contrast to the extreme, imagine someone showing up at a player's door once every week (on a different random day every week). Maybe only two of those samples would actually be tested, but the player would have to be fearful that any one of them could be tested. I think that's a much better system than what we currently have. It would probably be considered too intrusive, or maybe even cost prohibitive, to do it every week, but I think some version of that plan would have to be at least as successful as what we have currently.

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    3. I like the idea, but I think the argument would be that there is no provision in the WADA Code that permits collecting samples that will not be tested. (i.e., if you don't test, you don't collect.) So, the ITF would say "Our hands are tied by the Code. We are WADA compliant."

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    4. A variation would obviously be to test the other samples for something that's really cheap to test for, whatever that would be. Then all the samples are tested for something that's prohibited, but only a few of the samples undergo the more expensive testing.

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    5. I'll also point out, as I know you agree, the point shouldn't be to be WADA compliant. The point should be to put together as thorough a doping program as possible that is WADA compliant. Has anybody in anti-doping thought about a process like I've pointed out? Maybe they have. Maybe there's a legitimate reason why it can't be done other than not wanting to catch anybody. I'm a lawyer, so when you tell me I can't do someting for whatever reason, then I look at the rules/laws and try to find the most effective solution to the problem. I've yet to hear any complex, ingenuity in the tennis anti-doping arena. Richard points out some things from time-to-time, but we certainly don't see any evidence of the ITF having an interest in being extremely proactive.

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    6. mrm10dave….

      Sadly the reverse is true. The greatest component of an OOC test is the time of the testers and chaperones and the courier costs. Remember that an OOC test is a specifically targeted test. It is normally targeting a single athlete. So you send a chaperone and an anti-doping officer some distance to find one athlete. If you need to collect form more than one athlete then their is some scale. But not allot. As then you need to send multiple chaperones and ADO's. Why? Because when your testing team arrives at the training venue, it is obvious to all that the "feds" have arrived.

      So you need to officially notify everyone you need to test at the same time and chaperone them until they can provide a sample or else they will scoot out the back door.

      The process of testing you outline even has a name in anti-doping. It is called a "sink test" in that you collect a sample, then tip it down the sink. This is a procedure open to abuse in the field and also possible corruption. So no it has no place in a decent anti-doping program.

      Anti-doping is just plain expensive. There is no way of cheaply deterring athletes from doping. And remember that testing is unlikely to catch the serious doper anyway.

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    7. I understand all the points you make except the "sink tests" being open to corruption. If you have a process in place that you use you all other testing that isn't corrupt, then it stands to reason that those tests are not corrupt either. Particularly if you were to test each sample for at least one form of PED. Otherwise is seems like logic would dictate if you argue that those particular samples are open to corruption, then the whole system (and any sample) is open to corruption.

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  4. Speaking of predictability in testing, I'd be interested in Richard Ings's thoughts on the WTA memo about the 2012 anti-doping program:

    http://www.wtatennis.com/SEWTATour-Archive/Archive/AboutTheTour/2012antidopingenglish.pdf

    Specifically, this statement: "Due to the possible abuse of substances and methods that cannot be detected in urine analysis, WADA has placed greater emphasis on testing blood samples. In 2012, player test samples may include urine samples, blood samples or both. However, no blood samples will be taken while a player is In-Competition unless the test is collected after a player’s last match, withdrawal, or default or if a player is a no-show at a tournament."

    If the element of surprise and unpredictability is the key to anti-doping success, why would the WTA reveal this information?

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    1. SEN the players have always had a problem with blood testing. That is just the political reality. Blood testing happens in tennis of course but players have concerns about their playing arm being damaged by an errant phlebotomist. Well at least that was the history of this issue back in 2005 when I last dealt with it.

      But the ATP largely dealt with this concern by allowing the player to nominate which arm and then permitting the phlebotomist two attempts to find a vein before the test had to be aborted. With that in place testing was approved in-comp, OOC and even after winning matches (as I did many times in testing all 8 quarterfinalists at a tournament on the same day).

      This WTA policy is a bit lame. I think players, even female player, can give a blood sample after winning a match. What is needed is realistic limits. You can't allow the phlebotomist to take endless attempts to find a vein as that can cause genuine pain. You can't force a player to use their playing arm for a sample if they don't want. And you can't take blood sample samples every day just when really needed.

      A bit of negotiation with players I found normally results in a sensible compromise. At least we had that in 2005 at the ATP.

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    2. It never ceases to amaze me of the bollocks that athletes come out with in order to avoid getting dope tested. Anyone would think they have something to hide.

      It is a shame that the authorities don't have the balls to stand up to them.

      Always amazes me that tennis players can always unite against increased dope testing and clay, but somehow seem totally unable to say anything about dopers within their midst.

      It reminds me of complaints from athletes that giving blood samples would leave them weakened.

      I mean come on, as if tennis players are the only athletes who have to use their arms. FFS

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  5. An intersting article in french that sums up what you write on this blog:
    http://www.rue89.com/rue89-sport/2012/06/03/le-tennis-ce-sport-ou-le-dopage-nexisterait-pas-232477

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    1. Thanks! You must have posted this just as I was posting the link.

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