Thursday, July 5, 2012

Robin Haase on Doping Control in Tennis

The following column was written by Robin Haase for a new Dutch tennis magazine called Forty Love. Fellow blogger Niels has kindly provided a translation. It's an interesting piece, among other things, Haase indicates that "a lot of procedural errors are being made," I wonder what he's talking about. Here is the piece:

I underwent my umpteenth doping control at Roland Garros. I get tested a lot, and I find that strange. Why spend so much money on a player ranked 40, who loses every week and isn’t on any sort of winning streak. It has only happened one time that I wasn’t selected for doping control at a tournament. I don’t believe in coincidences. Yet, certain players get tested 16 times a year, and others not a single time. Federer won 6 tournaments in a row, except for the Australian Open and Doha, and he told me he hadn’t been tested once.

I enjoy fairness in sport and I'm all for doping controls. However, the way it is now is ridiculous. Guys who are found guilty are let off easy. Cañas was caught twice, is allowed to return, and beats Federer twice, in Indian Wells and in Miami. A totally different example is that of the cyclist Contador, who was convicted for a couple of picograms of clenbuterol. A doctor, whom I consulted, didn’t even know how little that was. That’s six zero’s after the comma, and it can be in meat. That’s not right, those levels should be adjusted.

Change is necessary, because athletes are treated like criminals. If I have to go to doping control after a match, I am not allowed to eat the whole time. That’s not in the player’s best interest, who is supposed to take care of his body. The whereabouts system is a pure invasion of privacy. I have to precisely specify where I will sleep and I have to be at a predetermined place for a certain hour of the day. When that changes for whatever reason, I can get caught. When I make a mistake while filling out the form, a 2-year suspension is looming. I can be lifted from my bed at 6 am for a doping test. Furthermore, a lot of procedural errors are being made. We, as tennis players, should be involved and talking to the authorities. Unfortunately, that barely happens.

14 comments:

  1. Some of this information seems strange. I'm not sure when Robin talked to Roger. It may have been before the French. Even so, I'd be shocked if Roger wasn't tested in Australia. He was tested at least four times in competition last year. If he did make the semis of a slam without being tested, that's definitely a problem.

    He makes some vague statements about Canas, who was suspended for doping. Then he goes on to talk about how ridiculous the case against Contador was. I'm not really sure what his point is. He seems to be all over the place.

    Robin also finds time to mislead about whereabouts, all while saying that the system should generally be more stringent (especially for the top players). A 2-year suspension is not looming for one mistake in filling out a form.

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    1. Haase's piece is rather rambling.

      On testing at the semis, read a post I did about a rule change that got zero press coverage: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.ca/2012/01/modern-test-distribution-methods.html

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    2. I think that article was before my time here. If semi-finalists aren't being tested, as is implied by that rule change, that's bothersome given the general approach to testing by the ITF. Maybe Roger hasn't been tested this year. I just find it unfortunate to read something written by a player who obviously has issues with the system, without that player spelling out those issues. I didn't agree with everything Anabel said, but her thoughts were logical and explained well. Robin just makes statement after statement with very little explanation.

      As for the ITF's contention that modern testing methods are advanced enough to be more sophisticated than to test every semi-finalist, I disagree even if you don't fear corruption. Part of a strong system in my mind, is determining that any potential champion is clean. The semi-finals seem like a logical round to draw that line. Players who consistently make it that far have a chance to win the tournament and attain the #1 ranking.

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  2. Six tournaments were basel, paris, wtf, Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells.

    Any talk would then be in Miami, or perhaps more likely Monte Carlo because Haase won three matches there and made the qfs - players tend to leave when they lose, so there's a smaller and smaller pool of opponents to practice against as the tourament goes on.


    Might be the ITF are mixing up the test regime, given limited resources. Say a couple of years of testing all top50 approximately the same frequency , then a couple of years where some players get tested much more than others.

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  3. Some interesting stuff, like his complaint about top players not being tested and his point about Canas, but in the end it devolves into the usual "6 AM" rant that players have apparently been told to complain about in lockstep. And his naive defense of Contador kills the credibility of his statements. If we assume that he is clean, does he also think that Nadal and Djoker are clean? Is he happy to be the 40th ranked player when he would probably be in the top ten if the field was cleared of dopers (assuming he is clean).

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    1. Good points THASP
      My question with this Clenbuterol "found in meat" aka Contadors excuse,if thats the case why havent more meat eating athletes tested positive for Clenbuterol?

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    2. Hi, sorry if it's somewhere on the site, but I just started reaading this very interesting blog.
      Although there are many good points being made by most of you, I am wondering what makes you state - pretty much as a fact - that Nadal and Djokovic are doping. Are there any clear indications (and I don't mean based on people's subjective perception of the players' physical attributes and/or improvement thereof) that either one of them is doping (as opposed to, say, Federer)?
      If so, could you kindly provide a link to that article?

      Thanks!

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  4. It's funny how Haase specifically mentions Roger when the Netherlands is set to play Switzerland in the Davis Cup in September. Coincidence?

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  5. Hey, he's a tennis player, not a journalist! At least he's talking about this stuff.

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  6. I liked Haase's post until he started whining about Contador and the usual "6AM" garbage. But he raised my eyebrows with his comment that Federer told him he hadn't been tested yet this year.

    It sounds to me that maybe they're deliberately not testing the "stars" in case they really are using and they have to come up with some silent ban or injury excuse that keeps them out of the game. I could be wrong but that's what I interpreted from Haase's comments.

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    1. Adding:
      As others have said, this blog post is all over the place, and it is hard to get at what his point is. I could be misinterpreting what he said.

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  7. Well at least Federer told him he hasn't been tested (although I don't get how that is possible at the Australian Open). Some other top players claim they are 'tested all the time".

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    1. Ah ok, read your January post now...
      Reinforces the idea ( sorry the fact) that testing is very weak in competition.
      Plus The Haase account is worrying. Some players tested 16 times, others zero or once, not good.

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  8. I posted an article on my blog, commenting on Robin Haase's column, and tweeted a link to the article to Robin Haase, asking for a reaction. He tweeted back that I could e-mail him.

    I'll keep you guys posted.

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