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?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.
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.
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?