Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wayne Odesnik: Where The Truth Lies

Last week, Wayne Odesnik made a number of statements regarding why his 2-year anti-doping suspension for human growth hormone (HGH) possession was cut in half by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). However, his explanation does not reconcile with the facts of the case. Moreover, if what Odesnik says is true, then his suspension should not have been reduced. In this piece, I review the history of the Odesnik case and the implications of his recent statements.

In January 2010, Wayne Odesnik was charged with importing HGH into Australian when customs officials found 8 vials of HGH in his luggage, along with 10 syringes. He pled guilty to the charge. The case was heard at the Brisbane Magistrates Court in Australia.


Magistrate Graham C. Lee oversaw the case and his ruling made the following statement:
When speaking with customs officers, Mr. Odesnik in my view tried to cover up his possession of these vials on the basis that he had a career-ending injury and that a doctor had prescribed the vials of Serostim to him ... this turned out to be incorrect. While he subsequently offered information through his lawyers that he bought them off the Internet, in my view that is a token level of cooperation only… I found Mr. Odesnik's explanation for his possession of the vials to be unsatisfactory to say the least.
To be clear, Odesnik did not provide any evidence that he had a prescription for the HGH, and, instead, admitted to buying it online.

On May 19, 2010 the ITF released its announcement that Odesnik would be "suspended for two years, commencing as of 29 December 2009 and ending on 28 December 2011." Further the announcement states "Mr Odesnik asserted that he had purchased the human Growth Hormone on professional advice to treat a recurring injury, and that he intended to apply for a therapeutic use exemption prior to using it."

Here it should be noted that the announcement states that Odesnik "asserted" that he acquired the HGH on "professional advice." There is no indication that Odesnik provided any medical evidence substantiating his HGH possession. This is in contrast to the ITF's anti-doping decision in the case of Jaime Carmona, which noted that "Mr Carmona did not have a valid TUE [therapeutic use exemption] for the use of terbutaline, but presented evidence that he had been prescribed terbutaline to treat a medical condition." [emphasis added] Therefore, one can reasonably infer that if Odesnik had presented real medical information substantiating his possession of HGH, it would have noted in the ITF's decision.

On December 22, 2010 the ITF announced Odesnik's suspension had ended, stating that "the remaining twelve months of his ineligibility suspended pursuant to Article M.5.3 (now 10.5.3) of the Programme, on account of ongoing Substantial Assistance provided by Mr Odesnik in relation to the enforcement of professional rules of conduct."

Article 10.5.3 of the ITF anti-doping rules states:
In any individual case where a period of Ineligibility has been imposed, the ITF may suspend a part of that period of Ineligibility where the Participant has provided Substantial Assistance to the ITF or other Anti-Doping Organisation, a criminal authority or a professional disciplinary body that results in the ITF or other Anti-Doping Organisation discovering or establishing an Anti-Doping Rule Violation by another Person or that results in a criminal authority or disciplinary body discovering or establishing a criminal offence or the breach of professional rules by another Person...

It should be noted that an agreement to reduce an athlete's suspension on the basis of "substantial assistance" requires written justification to be provided to (and, under certain conditions, approval by) the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as per section 10.5.3 of the WADA Code. Further, and importantly, the comment on section 10.5.3 in the WADA Code states:
Factors to be considered in assessing the importance of the Substantial Assistance would include, for example, the number of individuals implicated, the status of those individuals in the sport, whether a scheme involving Trafficking under Article 2.7 or administration under Article 2.8 is involved and whether the violation involved a substance or method which is not readily detectible in Testing...
Following the ITF's announcement, Greg Couch asked Stuart Miller, the head of the ITF's anti-doping program, for details on the assistance provided by Odesnik. He received this response: "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.''

From the time of Odesnik's reinstatement to the present, there has been no evidence that any players, physicians, or any other individual has been investigated or charged with an anti-doping violation (or other professional misconduct) linked to information he provided.

Since Odesnik has returned to the professional tour, he has been the object of player hostility. Much of this hostility is rooted in Odesnik's "assistance" rather than his violation for HGH possession. For example, in the early days of his comeback, during a match against Ryan Harrison, Harrison reportedly called Odesnik "a weasel."  More recently, Jesse Levine stated "a lot of people in the locker room hold some hostility toward him." And Andy Murray said "You want to make sure that people who are fined and suspended aren't let off because they are telling on other players. That is snitching."

Then something curious happened. Odesnik gave a press conference following his elimination from Wimbledon, which turned everything upside down. When asked about the "substantial assistance" he gave to the ITF, the following exchange occurred:

Q. Why was your ban halved?
WAYNE ODESNIK: Yeah, I heard today that there was a pretty harsh article that I think is a little bit unfair for the media to write something that is completely and utterly 100% false.
As the ITF said and what I had with them, which is obviously medical records that I was able to show them to substantiate the reasoning of why that medication was recommended to me by medical doctors. Obviously there is information there that cannot be ‑‑ it's medical information, which with the ITF, that is private information, just as if you go to the doctor. It's private.
I think one thing I would like each and every single one of you to jot this down in capital letters, I would 100% never say anything bad about a player or do something that I was a spy or something of that sort. That is utterly 100% false. I don't know where you guys started this rumor or where you heard it from, but I think that needs to be clarified.

Q. So why was it halved? Did you offer substantial assistance to the authorities?
WAYNE ODESNIK: Yeah, I explained to them why I had the medication. I proved to them medical information of why I had it, and for that I was 100% honest with them.
I never tried to lie to them. I was completely honest with them, and therefore, they understood the reasoning why I had it and they reduced my sentence.

Q. You have never given any information about other players to the authorities?
WAYNE ODESNIK: 100% no.
Suddenly, the "substantial assistance" wasn't so substantial. In fact, if Odesnik is to be believed, there was no assistance at all and no players were implicated. Instead, he made the claim that the information he provided was his medical records that were used to "substantiate the reasoning of why" he was in possession of HGH.

Is Odesnik being forthright in his explanation? If he is, it raises some serious questions. First, he was unable to provide medical evidence during his court hearing in Australian or when he faced the ITF for discipline. Why did he wait until after he was suspended to provide medical evidence?

Second, and more importantly, if Odesnik's statements are true, then he did not provide "substantial assistance" as defined by the ITF and WADA (see above). The information he claims to have provided has no connection with implicating other players, trafficking, or anything else regarding anti-doping or other type of professional misconduct (e.g., match-fixing). This would mean that the ITF and WADA approved an agreement to reduce Odesnik's sentence that did not comply with their own rules. It seems unlikely that the ITF and WADA would break their own codes.

The only event that Odesnik's recent explanation accords with is, as stated above, the total absence of any anti-doping or other violations attributed to information he may have provided.

An alternative interpretation is that Odesnik's recent explanation is not an accurate description of why his suspension was reduced. However, this also raises questions.

Mainly, if Odesnik is misrepresenting the assistance he provided, then why are the ITF and WADA allowing him to do so? As noted above, his statement indicates that the deal to reduce his suspension is not in compliance with ITF and WADA rules, with the implication being that these organizations broke their own rules by agreeing to reduce his suspension. Yet neither the ITF nor WADA have commented on the accuracy of Odesnik's remarks, or attempted to correct the record. I e-mailed both the ITF and WADA for comment on Odesnik's remarks, but received no response. If only for reputational reasons, one would think they would want to put the correct story on the record

With their credibility on the line, why are the ITF and WADA silent? Why has no one in the tennis media pressed the ITF and WADA for answers?

Also, why are tennis players so hostile towards a player alleged to have provided information to catch dopers? Why has no one in the tennis media pressed players to explain their disapproval of whistleblowing?

What is going on in tennis?

42 comments:

  1. With the ITF and WADA silent on anything relating to the Anti Doping Program, players are free to say anything they like. You could claim that you were tested, say 100 times last week and no one would even try to contradict you.

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  2. You could be privately suspended but tell everyone you've got a weird disease!

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  3. One distinction, Sen. WADA "approval" for substantial assistance is not required as long as the appeals period is still open in a case. As long as the appeals period is still open, the ITF would only have to provide a "written justification" for the reduction due to substantial assistance. Once the appeals period has closed, then WADA outright "approval" would be required for a reduction due to substantial assistance.

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    1. That's one more question requiring an answer: Was the appeals period open when the deal was made?

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    2. Right, that's part of what I was getting at. I don't think we have enough information to know for sure. If it was, then WADA "approval" would not have been required. The ITF would just have had to make WADA aware of the justification for the reduction, so that WADA could pursue the matter if they disagreed that it was "substantial assistance."

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  4. Again, I was told by a tennis insider that a deal was being made back in June, 2010. At the time, it was assumed that it was a deal for his silence and the ITF really had no choice, much like with Rusedski, since he could probably name a lot of names. I give this more credibility, because at the time I was told this, no one believed that Odesnik had any chance to get off.
    http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/2010/07/odesnik-rumored-to-be-working-deal.html
    Odesnik seems to be claiming that his defense was that it was a medical issue. Ridiculous, of course, but that could at best be a secondary issue unless the ITF lied regarding "substantial assistance." My view has always been that he gave some sort of useless "information," like the name of the website from where he bought the HGH and the ITF decided to use that as an excuse to call it "substantial assistance," in a "round up the usual suspects" kind of way. The way Odesnik is talking now, he seems to be implying that he is still being allowed to use HGH for a medical condition. If he truly had a medical condition and was not able to use HGH, then why is he more pumped and playing better than when he got caught? So either he is still using it legally with a TUE or illegally. I wish someone would ask him directly.

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    1. " My view has always been that he gave some sort of useless "information," like the name of the website from where he bought the HGH and the ITF decided to use that as an excuse to call it "substantial assistance," in a "round up the usual suspects" kind of way. "

      Spot on THASP. Just what I was thinking. Especially given recent comments by Odesnik compared with Miller.

      And as SNR and Mr10sdave pointed out above, WADA approval was, quite possible (if not probably), not even needed!

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  5. Spain beats Italy 4-0!!! 3rd title in a row...unheard of and never done before....theres no denying it,they are clearly doping.The Italians were completely burnt out at the end of the 90 mins and the Spanish looked like they could go for another 90 mins

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    1. A truly amazing performance, and unfortunately helped by amazing doping. There is no other way to explain tje freshness, quickness, concentration, you name it. Ah yes, confidence. I hope Noah comes back with some new / same thoughts on this, as well as some more people. This could mark the beginning of the end of doping in Spain, if we're lucky.
      I mean these guys are clearly excellent, and so is Nadal, but without the doping, they wouldn't be anywhere near. They wouldn't even think of this approach, just like the biggest dopers in tennis. Doping, perhaps excellent doping, changes everything. And it pays off, mostly, except for poor Odesnik and very few others.

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    2. Maybe we should all start watching Chess tournaments now. The Doping Nation of Spain killed sports.

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    3. I watched the title match too and all I could think of was that the Spanish team must have received a doping cocktail some time between the semifinal and final. They have looked sluggish and slow for most of the tournament, but today they were running circles around the Italians. It was almost as if they had 11 Duracel bunnies on the pitch. And that look of sheer focus in the eyes? It kind of reminded me of Djokovic 2011.

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    4. I could not stop laughing during the match at how ridiculously fast the Spanish pace was. Then I wept with the Italians after the match, especially with Pirlo and Balotelli.
      This needs to stop!! The turning point was when that left side defender Jordi Alba raced down the full field, past all the Italians to slot in a goal and you're wondering where does he get the energy from? Then he does it again and again throughout the match.
      Many footballers behind closed doors know what is going on. I don't care who you are, one player's endurance cannot be so superior to that of your opponent in the same professional sport, let along the whole squad has superior endurance. It's common sense that these guys are doping.

      But why they have not been outed is beyond me. Maybe sport as a whole is unclean and dope ridden. God will help us all for having such evil in our hearts to cheat others for the sake of money and fame.

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    5. Spot on Bolu, and everyone else. If the Italians are doping (hardly impossible!) then Spain is doping far far better. They really could've gone another 90 mins. The energiser bunny analysis reminds me of the Champions League Final in 2011 - when Barcelona were all over Man United right from the start, Man U couldn't get anywhere near them.

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    6. During the break at half-time, a panel of experts in the British (BBC?) TV studio was discussing the first half; an old geezer went raving about great tactics of the Spaniards, while one action was being replayed on the screen: 39 passes (!) "before they saw an opening and attacked". The expert was in throws of passionate adulation and therefore (I suppose) forgot to mention the real name of their tactic, which is "War of Attrition". I had to switch the whole farce off after the third goal scored.

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    7. What also stood out to me was that the Spanish team was still pressing the Italians around their penalty area when they were up by 2 goals in the 82nd minute. They were really rubbing it in.

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    8. I had almost the same feeling as while watching the 2009 AO finals, thinking this is freaking impossible. The difference is that now I know nothing is impossible.

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    9. I suspect that the Spanish team is doping, but I think it is too much to assume that "if" the Italians are doping, they must not be as good as it. Google "Milan lab," or "Juventus doping" and look into the various Italian doping scandals over the last almost 20 years now. There's the famous video of Cannavaro injecting a supposed recovery drug prior to a big match. He was accused of doping again a few years ago. Milan is celebrated for all of its elderly players cranking out one amazing game after another.

      It's not just Italy and Spain, either. Zidane admitted to using a recovery drug when he was in Italy, and there have since been allegations that the French national team doped en masse for their glory days at the end of the 1990s.

      There is virtually no rigorous drug testing in football. I think we have to assume that drug use is widespread.

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    10. Theres a lot of corruption in football but even as someone mentioned earlier,the commentators were all saying this was the greatest single performance they have ever seen from any team,in any tournament
      They were all claiming the Spanish squad was like the "dream team"of football...Im just not buying that,Italy have a great team,to be dominated like that reeks of 08 RG/Wimbledon final
      Its not just the national squad,look at how Barcelona has been dominating the Champions League the last few years
      Plus to achieve 3 titles in a row is unheard of,never done before even prior to the steroid age
      My only guess at the moment is that no one wants to speak out cause they don't want to sound like a sore loser,but someone needs to piss on their parade

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  6. New quote from Andy Murray:

    ''When the scoreboard was coming up and it was like 14-all, 15-all, there's a bit of you sort-of thinking 'that's great for me, or for Marcos','' Murray said.

    ''Guys can recover, though. It was a five-hour match. When I played Novak in Australia our match was pretty much five hours, and then he played six hours against Rafa. So you can recover. The day [off] definitely, definitely helps, but hopefully I'll be the fresher.''


    Ah Andy, are you that naive?

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  7. So what's the general consensus here on the Rosol drubbing of Nadal? Sure Rosol played great, served great and took Nadal out of his comfort zone. But I'm not completely convinced. Something about the smirk on Rosol's face during that last set isn't sitting right with me. It's almost as if he knew he was going to win it. Could it have just been confidence? I think Kim Clijsters called it arrogance.Or is it something more sinister? Of course the conspiracy theorist in me says Nadal must have a) tested positive or b) got scared away by the "rigorous" doping program. I'd like to know what the experts think.

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    1. Nadal could've played better. But Rosol couldn't have played better in his wildest wet dreams. I don't think he "knew" he'd hit those aces and flat winners. I think he was just confident and a touch arrogant so as not to let the nerves get to him. But aren't they all a bit arrogant at this level? Good on him.

      But Nadal wasn't at his best for whatever reason. Whether that was an off day or reduced doping is anyone's guess.

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    2. Something was definitely up. The first two sets Nadal played positively awful. Reminded me of the player that got drubbed by Fed at Indian Wells and at the WTF. Think about it, if one single point in the first set tiebreak swung the other way, it would have been a straight-sets loss. Had that happened, the discussions here... heck, everywhere... would have had an entirely different tenor.

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    3. Rosol played first strike tennis not getting into lengthy exchanges with Nadal. He served well with quick holds and when Nadal served, he whacked the ball as hard as he could even if it landed a foot or two outside. Nadal thrives when things go his way, when the opponent plays to his(Nadal's strengths). The opposite happened, and he had a melt down. Nadal isn't so tough when the opponent won't cave in to his gamesmanship and underhanded tactics.
      That steely eyed gaze and clenched jaw of Rosol was nothing more than determination to stand up to Nadal's bullying, IMO. Rosol was in the zone and didn't let go.

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    4. Anything is possible, but I just think Rosol had one of those out-of-his-mind days where everything went right. He had nothing to lose and played that way.

      Nadal's behavior during that match was piss poor (so much for that Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award).

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  8. For my part I just can't believe that Wayne Odesnik had relevant, substantiated information that could lead to the bust of another player. I can't for the life of me believe that players share their doping secrets with other players. Cheaters cheat to win so why would they let any other player know they're cheating? Add to that the fact that Odesnik was a complete nobody at the time he was caught. I still couldn't pick Wayne Odesnik out of a police lineup of 5 Wayne Odesniks. If Odesnik knoew enough to be helpful to authorities then EVERY player is in on the scam and they might as well play the US Open in Tombstone, AZ because the ATP tour is the Wild West. So my opinion is that he couldn't have provided "substantial assistance" about another player's doping even if he wanted to. For God's sakes the guy had the HGH in his own friggin' duffel bag. Anyone think that Federer, Djokovic or Nadal would ever be caught with drugs in their own carry-ons?

    Match fixing is another story. I can see one match fixer going to another potential match fixer to discuss the possibilities of fixing matches for their gain. This would be of interest to the ITF but not WADA, so to mrn's and Sen's discussion above regarding WADA's right to be made aware of the ITF's reason for suspension reduction I guess it's possible that WADA could allow the ITF to reduce a suspension for "substantial assistance" in a non-doping manner, but who's to say? Maybe Richard Ings could chime in on that one.

    In regards to THASP's theory it seems to me the ITF would have to get one hell of an iron-clad non-disclosure agreement from Odesnik in order to make that work and even with that it would be terribly risky if it were ever revealed. In reality how could they really ever guarantee his silence? I'm pretty sure breaking a contract is a civil issue not a criminal issue so it's not like he would ever be in danger of real trouble even if he broke the "contract." So I would think Odesnik would look at like he was in more trouble of being ruined if he's constantly referred to as a "snitch" than he would be if he actually was exposed for breaking his non-disclosure agreement with the ITF, but what do I know? Still, again, Odesnik would have to actually have relevant doping information to hide, which I personally doubt he has or had, unless it was of the match fixing variety.

    Isn't it just a little more plausible that at some point the ITF decided that despite the fact Odesnik originally lied and wasn't initially totally forthcoming that they decided ultimately that the 2-yr suspension set a dangerous precedent for them? Maybe they decided that the fact that they never actually proved (or from what I can tell even attempted to prove) that Odesnik actually took the HGH himself they were worried that if a big-name player is subsequently caught they would be forced to impose at least a 2-yr ban if not more and therefore decided that it would be best to loosely interpret "substantial assistance" in order to reduce the suspension? Maybe they just didn't want the 2-yr minimum precedent set for fear that it would come back and bite them later. Maybe they thought they opened themselves up to a lawsuit by Odesnik if they only suspended a player for use of a drug for a shorter period than they suspended Odesnik for possession of a drug? Maybe its' true he lied, maybe it's true he never really helped at all and maybe he's lying now to save what's left of his reputation but the ITF doesn't really give a rat's ass and therefore as long as he doesn't try to implicate them or bad-mouth them they're just letting him say whatever the hell he wants?

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    1. For my part I just can't believe that Wayne Odesnik had relevant, substantiated information that could lead to the bust of another player.
      ==========================================

      I actually think some information reach all players and that they talk about it within themselves....such as a silent ban of a player for instance. They don;t talk about it openly cause they have no postive tests to prove it (only WADA would have) and they don't want their ATP/WTA "circus" to be thrown into disrepute. Remember, it's their bread earner.

      However, if your are caught red handed are banned, you have nothing to lose. That's the danger. Just the fact he could blow the whisthle would be enough to create a panick in teh establishment. Odesnik may have had good lawyers saying they will use other cases such as Agassi to defend their man, or even Rafa 2009 silent ban whether they have tangible proof or not, they woudl have been able to expose everything that is exposed on this blog.

      Enough to scare teh ITF to death....and reducing the ban seems a very good compromise in comparison.

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    2. Swisscheese40,
      As with cycling, it is likely that a doping player has been directly involved in doping with other players. He only has to imply that he is going to name names and the ITF would be shaking in their boots. They don't have to sign an agreement that he won't tell about other players. Lawyers are much slicker than that. Odesnik never even has to be involved in the direct discussions. As to Odesnik spilling the beans at a later date, he would be implicating himself if he did so. Perhaps he or someone else will do so after their career is over, but most of those who spilled the beans after retiring in cycling and baseball became pariahs. In any case, look how many people still believe Lance Armstrong after several riders have implicated him. The bottom line is that they claim he gave "substantial assistance" and they haven't gotten one doping bust out his so-called assistance. The conclusion should be obvious.

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    3. I agree with Swisscheese,its hardly like Oldesnik travels in the same circle as top players,the likes of Nadal and Federer have access to private jets where as Wayne probably flies economy class
      But I do think he may have had enough dirt on a few other lower ranked players to cause quite a scandal and its quite clear the ATP and ITF wouldn't want to hurt the sports "squeaky clean" image

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    4. They all work their way through the ranks and as soon as one is implicated, he can then implicate others and they can implicate others. If you disagree, you have to have a theory. Clearly, there was no "substantial assistance," and even Odesnik denies that. He was caught illegally smuggling growth hormone into Australia and claims he then made the case that he had a medical problem, which means he didn't even have a prescription. He appears to be implying that he might have a TUE for it, now. He was caught red-handed, even breaking the law, provided no substantial assistance, was let off the hook and possibly now has a TUE to use growth hormone for some unnamed medical condition. There really isn't another plausible explanation that is much better than what you would hear from a Lance Armstrong defender.

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    5. I agree with Swisscheese,its hardly like Oldesnik travels in the same circle as top players,the likes of Nadal and Federer have access to private jets where as Wayne probably flies economy class
      ----------------------------
      But the main point is that he woudl not need to be close to those top guys, he woudl just name names and that woudl be enough to create havoc in the sport. Lawyers are smart guys and against some tangible money can see quickly the weak spots in the opposition (ITF/ATP), especially after the Agassi scandal.

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    6. If the ITF was so afraid of Odesnik they wouldn't have suspended him at all. They suspended him for a year. I seriously doubt he would have told the ITF "if you suspend me for 2 years I'm going public but if you only suspend me for 1 year I'll let sleeping dogs lie." Isn't it more likely he would have said "if you suspend me at all I'm going public," if indeed he had information to take public?

      THASP, to your point regarding cycling and baseball, those are all team sports (like football and soccer as well). Tennis isn't a team sport. Call me naive but for the life of me I can't imagine Federer's saying to Nadal "wow, you really have to try some of this EPO/IGF-1 cocktail that I've been using - It's freakin' awesome!!" or "Rafa I've noticed you're not getting much pop on your serve....here, take my doctor's number, just don't tell Novak how you got it." MAYBE really good friends from the same country MIGHT share some information but even then it's just not very plausible that a player will give another player an advantage that can be used to beat him or her. From what I can recall Canseco was approached by players that were on his team at the time. Canseco didn't help players on other teams. It shows the short-sightedness of players in some regards because in pro sports the guy on your team today can be the guy you're facing next year, but they largely want to win THIS year and they don't worry about next year until next year. Canseco didn't just start throwing around names without proof. Canseco named players to whom he either provided PED's or approached him about PED's while on his team. In the case of Alex Rodriguez, even though I'm sure Canseco knew he doped Canseco made it clear that he didn't have any first-hand knowledge about Rodriquez - they never played together. He made it clear he had first-hand knowledge about Clemens from when they were teammates in Toronto. He had first-hand knowledge about McGwire from when they were teammates in Oakland. When Pettitte told prosecutors he had first-hand knowledge from Clemens it occurred when they were teammates in Houston. Before they became teammates I'm sure Pettitte had no first-hand knowledge that Clemens used HGH. I just doubt that Manny Ramirez ever discussed PED's with Alex Rodriguez. They were trying to beat each other's brains out. But if they had ever ended up on the same team they very well might have.

      Odesnik wasn't "let off the hook" because he served a one-year suspension and every tennis fan on the planet KNOWS he's a cheater and THINKS he's a "snitch." We don't know if he now has a TUE. It's also not clear if he claimed to have a "medical condition" or an "injury." The ITF website's summary of his case reads that he claimed to be using HGH for a "recurring injury," albeit unnamed. If one can claim a "recurring injury" that requires HGH but never heals and thus requires HGH until the end of time then that's a major hole in the ITF's TUE rules.

      To your point that Odesnik would be implicating himself if he spilled the beans later, well, he's already been implicated. That would be a legitimate issue if he had avoided ALL prosecution and suspension by the ITF. Then nobody, conceivably, would know he was a cheater and in that circumstance he would be implicating himself if he spilled the beans. In the current circumstance spilling the beans would be re-implicating himself. So as I stated in the first paragraph to guarantee his silence one would think his entire case would have been brushed under the rug. That likely would have been impossible because Australian Customs made the bust. But he's already implicated.

      Lastly, referring to my "theory" as being something only an Armstrong defender would say is, to put it mildly, harsh.

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    7. No offense intended SW40. They couldn't not suspend him. He was caught red-handed. If he had been caught by the tennis drug testers, we never would have heard about it. He would have claimed an injury and would have been cleared. As it is, could they have possibly given him less of a suspension than they did? People were outraged when he was let off and the only reason anyone accpeted it was because he supposedly provided substantial assistance. He has claimed to have a medical condition on several occasions, even recently, and states he never told on any other players, which I believe. It is very hard to dope independently. You need someone to advise you and supply you. If, for example, you have a particular trainer helping you with doping and other players have the same trainer, you know that all those players are doping even if you don't admit anything to each other. Chances are, though, that they worked together in groups. Believe me, the ultimate individual sport that involves huge amounts of doping is bodybuilding. All those guys sit around talking about what works, who has the best stuff, how to beat drug tests, etc. You might not tell your main rival, but you are going to be talking with a lot of other guys. If he told about others, it would be in the context of his own doping with them and not related to the incident in Australia. He kept his mouth shut, and for that reason was playing in Wimbledon.

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    8. OK. I have to jump in.

      Andrea there was no Agassi scandal. Agassi tested positive to a stimulant in the dark days before the WADA Code was a glint in someones eye. At that time in the 90's stimulants carried max of 3 month bans and there was no strict liability. Agassi provided an excuse as then allowed under the sieve like rules in tennis and indeed in all sports (which is why they brought in the WADA Code some years later to introduce mandatory strict liability and fix the loop holes) and was cleared.

      Old rules applied in the Agassi case. They have no resemblance at all to rules in place since the WADA Code.

      Now Odesnik, I know this case extremely well. ASADA referred the evidence to the ITF. Indeed I was the one that called the ITF in London to first tell them of the Odesnik matter.

      Odesnik gets caught at an Australian airport with hGH. He didn't declare it so he gets busted. Customs then refer the details to ASADA as a possible doping offence in sport. ASADA review the evidence, determine there is a case to answer (he had vials and syringes and no TUE so pretty clear case), and we refer it to the ITF in London who has carriage over the player (as he is not Australian).

      At the same time I briefed WADA completely about the evidence collected. So WADA and ITF both have the full details.

      If the ITF saw fit to apply substantial assistance, it was with the knowledge and support of WADA. After all WADA have the right to oppose such a reduced sanction. WADA to my knowledge did not do that.

      So Odesnik has supplied information that meets the already outlined definition of substantial assistance. Noting critically that such assistance does not even have to involve tennis. It could be (and likely is) related to information that concerns no other tennis players at all. People who supply things like hGH supply to anyone who will buy.

      Now if that information resulted in another anti-doping agency or other agency (lets say a medical licensing board or a FDA type body) making a finding against someone (may not be an athlete at all…it may be a doctor..or it may be an online distributor of hGH) then the burden of substantial assistance has been met by Odesnik.

      I have no discomfort with how this has been managed as I know that WADA are all over it.

      My only suggestion would be that I had a similar case (in tennis no less some years ago) where a player busted for PED's offered substantial assistance. The approach I took was "OK..your standard ban is 2 years…so that is what we will seek from the tribunal..but if you do assist and it leads to something concrete then the tribunal can revisit the sanction, look at the assistance provided and determine if the sanction should be reduced". My view was that the ATP should never determine any sanction. That only a independent tribunal could impose a sanction. The ATP's role was to present evidence.

      In the matter above the player got 2 years at the first hearing but offered in my view weak substantial assistance after that. His information was patchy and he refused to be a witness against anyone else. But he asked the tribunal to re-convene and consider his assistance and reduce his ban. I on behalf of the ATP submitted that he provided no assistance and the 2 year ban (of which he had served a year) should remain unchanged.

      The tribunal considered the submissions from the player (for reduction) and ATP (for no reduction) and ruled for the ATP. The 2 year ban remained in place.

      This case is up on the ITF website if anyone cares to go through the archives. This is how I managed substantial assistance. Not by counting chickens till they have hatched.

      Delete
    9. Richard,

      I still question how involved WADA had to be in the "substantial assistance" phase of the Odesnik case. It's certainly possible that they knew all the details of what he provided and where that would lead, and they thought that it was fully deserving of the reduced sentence. It's also POSSIBLE that the ITF provided the "written justification" of why he got the reduction, say potentially for outing a doctor, and then WADA thought it was marginal and let it go. If the agreement with Odesnik for "substantial assistance" came while the appeals period was still open, then WADA would not have to "approve" it. Of course, WADA could still pursue the matter if they thought the information didn't warrant a suspension being cut in half. The Code even carefully outlines the factors to consider when determining the reduction. While I agree that WADA was involved to some degree, I think the way that section 10.5.3 is written opens itself up to POSSIBLE corruption. If you have an athlete who threatens to talk, then the ITF can just allow him a reduced sentence for providing information about where he got the banned substance (thus implicating a doctor, etc). I find that to be a ludicrous resolution. Everybody gets banned substances from somewhere. That should hardly be considered substantial assistance. It walks a fine line, because you want to encourage athletes to provide information about doctors if those doctors serve several athletes. Do you really want to allow a reduction for somebody providing information about some random "doctor" who they got drugs from on the internet? The language in the Code is obviously geared to benefit athletes for providing more substantial information than that.

      My question remains the same: If Odesnik provided information about a "doctor," then why haven't we heard about it by now? I'll believe it when I see it at this point. The Code doesn't allow for vague information to be turned into "substantial assistance." It states clearly that the information should be intended to create cases, either in professional sport or courts of law. I've seen evidence of neither. Given the bizarre details of this case, I don't think it's unreasonable to be inquisitive until I do see such evidence.

      Delete
  9. Has anyone heard about the Karlovic foot-faulting case v Murray?

    Another disgrace from Wimbledon to favour their boy (Murray) at the expense of a lesser known, popular player.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was a joke and should be investigated. But it won't.

      Delete
    2. Absolute disgrace and what makes it worse is that John Lloyd is pushing for Ivo to be disciplined because apparently he broke the rules...
      What a pile of manure and the double standards makes me sick,why isn't Lloyd also pushing for others who break the rules in almost every single match to be disciplined too?

      Delete
    3. Not only that, but Karlovic rarely foot faults. I find his game boring and one-dimensional, but a foot-faulter he is not.

      So, a guy who rarely - if ever - foot faults, gets called for double digit foot faults this match - and it usually seemed to happen at crucial points.

      Delete
  10. I heard through the grapevine that Fed and his agent are going ahead and opeining up their own agency!!! Looks like my guy at IMG was right all along. He texted my friend this weekend and said they made a huge offer to Fed to keep him on, but he wants an ownership stake and with the company being sold off or broken up, it was impossible....... Should be interesting... I guess Fed is setting up his post tennis career

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sen, in your article you seem to imply (without quite explicitly stating it) that tennis players were more concerned with Odesnik outing other players than with the basic fact of his cheating. I think you're guilty here of cherry picking a couple of comments here to support an omerta theory, rather than actually truth seeking/critically examining the evidence. I personally have seen Odesnik criticised by other players 5-10 times and it was always disgust at his cheating, never disgust at his supposed/alleged telling.

    Also, some of the comments on here are a bit much. You watch one tennis and football match and suddenly view it as certain doping?? It's very common that heads go down in a match when you're several goals down, and Italy played with ten men for much of the second half. The match offered little or no evidence or proof for doping. It's conspiracy theorists running riot on this site at times, while on other forums it's blind denial to any prospect of doping. Hard to find any happy medium at times but in both cases there is a kind of closed mindedness at work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would agree that when Odesnik was originally caught most of the criticism was regards to "cheating." (e.g., Roddick and Fish)

      However, when his ban was reduced it appears to me that most of the criticism been focused on him being a "snitch", or "weasel", or spy (e.g., Harrison, Murray, Stakhovsky) rather than the "cheating" label.

      Delete
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