Monday, August 6, 2012

The Case Against Tennis (Update #2)

Update #1: "The International Tennis Federation announced today that it recognises and respects the lifetime ban imposed on Dr Luis Garcia del Moral by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for various Anti-Doping Rule Violations. Dr Garcia del Moral practices sports medicine in Valencia, Spain, and in that capacity has worked with various tennis players."

Update #2: More from the ITF today:
In accordance with Article 15.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code, and further to their longstanding commitment to protect the integrity of the sport of tennis and the health of all of the participants in the sport, the stakeholders to the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme recognise and respect USADA's decision, and will take all steps available to them to enforce and give effect to that decision in the sport of tennis, including (without limitation) not permitting Dr Garcia del Moral to participate in any capacity in, and denying him accreditation for or access to, any sanctioned tennis event or activity.

Players are asked to take careful note of the above when considering who to seek treatment, guidance and advice from in the future.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF), and professional tennis as a whole, has zero credibility when it comes to making claims of a being a "clean sport" or having "strict doping controls." The more likely situation is widespread doping in the sport. Why? The reasons are plenty:

Because Stuart Miller, the head of the ITF anti-doping program, believes "It may be that tennis is not conducive to EPO..." and that "tennis is not obviously lending itself to a particular category of performance-enhancing products."

Because Francesco Ritti Bitti, President of the ITF believes that when it comes to doping: "Many cases are due to simple ignorance by the players."

Because under Stuart Miller, blood testing by the ITF decreased by 33% between 2006 and 2011.

Because under Stuart Miller, EPO testing by the ITF decreased significantly between 2006 and 2009.

Because, leading up to Beijing Olympics, the ITF conducted 79% of their out-of-competition tests after the Games.

Because, in 2009, 49 out-of-competition missions by the ITF resulted in "no sample being collected," including Federer, Nadal, V. Williams, S. Williams, Roddick, and Wozniacki.

Because, at Grand Slam events, the ITF conducts loser-targeted testing.

Because, at non-Grand Slam events, the ITF typical doesn't conduct doping tests beyond the early rounds.

Because the ITF allows top players to go multiple years without an out of competition doping tests.

Because the ITF conducts minimal out of competition tests compared to other sports.

Because the ITF reduces anti-doping suspensions for no apparent reason.

Because the ITF doesn't appear to have issues with professional tennis players working with personnel that have been banned for anti-doping violations.

Because top players actively promote Omerta.

Because the ITF actively prevents other anti-doping organizations from testing at ITF events.

For the reasons above (and more), the ITF anti-doping program is either completely inept, or deliberately designed to not catch players doping. There do not appear to be any other obvious explanations. Such an anti-doping regime has, on the balance of probabilities and lessons from history, resulted in widespread doping in the sport.

As a result, ALL tennis players have a cloud hanging over their heads. If they want this to change, they should take it up with the ITF and the tennis media. And if the tennis media wants this to change, they should take it up with players and the ITF. Depending on the true state of affairs, it may very well be that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the only way to clean-up the sport.


  1. This is off topic but... Is it me or this last weeks without Nadal have proven that tennis is more enjoyable without him? Of course just talking about male tennis.

    1. It is true. I did have the same feelings. May be it was also because it was best of 2 out of 3 sets. It was a lot more unpredictable and much better than the forever running syndrome that we have been exposed to by Nadal

    2. But the viewership is down overall. The sport is certainly better with Nadal than without him. It is no coincidence that viewership increased only when Nadal emerged as a rival to Federer. Only stands to reason that it would decline without him. Djokovic certainly has also created a draw. Remains to be seen if he can keep the draw going. I sense that he's peaked.

  2. so so so so much more agreeable when he has taken his whiney arse of to *recuperate*

  3. Ok. Aside from the two comments above, this will be a Nadal free thread. No Serena, Federer, or Murray. In fact, no player talk at all.

    1. With respect to the "substantial assistance" case (about a player whose name I will not mention to remain compliant with the rules of the thread), are there other instances of reductions in other sports due to "substantial assistance" that we could use for comparison? Specifically, I would be interested to know how detailed the information is that is ultimately made available and how long that information takes to be dispersed.

      Cases are obviously unique, but it would raise even more questions for the ITF if, for instance, there are a total of eight instances of its use in other sports and the public was made acutely aware of the information in EACH case within a year of initiation (I just made up the number eight for purposes of the discussion).

    2. Interesting question. The only instance I'm aware of is cyclist Joe Papp. The USADA stated that:

      "Papp, 36, received a reduction to an eight-year sanction in accordance with the rules since he has provided substantial assistance to anti-doping authorities, sharing information about ongoing criminal activity as well as potential anti-doping rule violations by athletes under USADA’s jurisdiction and/or the jurisdiction of other anti-doping organizations."

      I'm not sure if anyone was arrested/banned because of Papp, but the USADA provided at least some clarity regarding the information provided.

    3. Here's more:

      "Papp accuses Longo’s husband of buying EPO"

      This gives some more info:

      USADA used him in Landis case. He's also mentioned in this USADA decision:

    4. This is a bit off topic of my first post, but Papp's analysis takes the same line as most every other "expert" who discusses doping. He mentions using a combination of the same drugs that always come up, and taken in context, his statements make it likely that what he was doing a decade ago is completely undetectable by the current ITF testing process. Specifically, his descriptions of testosterone make it likely that it could be applied in gel form after a slam match, and the player would test clean following their next match. Good evidence also suggests this is the case for EPO, and presumably, HGH as well.

    5. Justin Gatlin's 2006 doping violation was originally an 8-year-ban but the arbitration panel found he gave "substantial assistance" to authorities in their doping investigations. It was reduced to 4 years by the arbitration panel.

      pgs. 34-36 of final arbitration report:

      (c) Consideration of a reduction under 10.5.3

      8.21 This Panel next considers whether to reduce Mr. Gatlin’s period of ineligibility under WADA Code 10.5.3.

      The language under 10.5.3 is permissive. It states in part, the AntiDoping Organization “may also reduce the period of Ineligibility in an individual case where the athlete has provided substantial assistance to the Anti-Doping Organization which results in the Anti-Doping Organization discovering or establishing an anti-doping rule violation by another Person . . .”

      8.22 The term “may” provides this Panel with the discretion whether to reduce the period of
      ineligibility if the athlete satisfies the requirements of 10.5.3.

      The Panel finds that Mr. Gatlin has provided substantial assistance to the United States Government in investigating doping in sport. He immediately cooperated with the IRS without hesitation. He made undercover calls. He wore a wire, putting himself at risk.

      While USADA contended that Mr. Gatlin did not
      “cooperate” with it in any investigations and ought not be given credit under 10.5.1, USADA did
      concede (See, USADA Prehearing Brief, at 14) that that it reserved judgment as to whether the
      assistance to the U.S. government would be sufficient to justify a reduction.

      Moreover, the record reflects that USADA never sought to avail itself of Mr. Gatlin’s assistance, and that is not within Mr. Gatlin’s control. USADA did enjoy the fruits of the investigation and assisted the IRS with advice.

      The record reflects extended assistance to the United States Government, which goes far beyond the contemplated assistance to anti-doping sports authorities.

      8.23 In considering, however, whether such cooperation was sufficient under the WADA Code to justify a reduction, the Panel must first analyze the language of Section 10.5.3, indicating that discretion should be based on the cooperation resulting in “. . . the Anti-Doping Organization discovering or establishing an anti-doping rule violation by another Person….”

      At this stage of the proceedings, there is no evidence that it has been established that any other
      person or organization definitely has been discovered involved in doping violations. However,
      the Panel is faced with the fact that the U.S. government agency involved was willing only to
      give limited information of a conclusory nature rather than specifics, and that the investigation is
      apparently still on going. Hence, there may or may not be information which has is the “discovery” of the identify of persons involved in doping in sport, and the investigation, in which Mr. Gatlin clearly assisted, may yet result in such a “discovery.”

      Hence, the Panel finds that under the particular circumstances of this case, and the general principles of equity, it retains the discretion to consider a reduction in the award in this matter.


    6. The Gatlin discussion above is an interesting contrast to the Odesnik case. Particularly the part about trying to discern whether the information Gatlin provided led to the discovery of a violation by another person. The ITF's position seems to be that the Code allows for "substantial assistance" to be applied, and it's none of our business how that's interpreted.

  4. Hear, hear. I applaud this post and with any luck it will be widely disseminated everywhere throughout the blogosphere.

    I am sick and tired of hearing about tennis' so-called "stringent testing." It's a farce, and the more people who start to call the ITF and professional tennis as a whole out on their lies and misinformation, the more we can get tennis' lack of drug testing out into the open.

  5. What's so bad about the testing of losers, followed by the testing of the tournament winner? It's an algorithm that ensures that everyone gets tested once. The only exploit of the system is where a good player is confident that he/she will win for several rounds and juices early on, then stops juicing towards the end. Very risky.

    You could do better only if you were prepared to test more, at extra cost: throw in some random tests of mid-tournament winners. This is a bit better, but not much. Do you have a better testing regime in mind?
    -- Mike N

    1. Predictable testing doesn't catch people (except the stupid and careless). Ask any anti-doping expert and they will tell you the same thing.

      To succeed it must be unpredictable. This means, for in-competition testing at Grand Slams, testing players on off-days (e.g., what the French did at Roland Garros 2009).

      The current regime means players can dope (e.g., testosterone and EPO) after wins and be certain they will test clean if they lose their next match (36hrs-48hrs later) as the window for detection (6hrs for testosterone, and 19hrs for EPO) will have passed.

    2. To be even a little more specific, Mike, the first step I would take is to test players immediately after on-site practice sessions on off-days in slams. I would focus on players who had played fairly late in the day the previous day and were practicing mid-day the following day. That would make it possible to get some tests in during the 19-hour window when EPO is (may be) detectable. Players would still whine about having their tournament preparation/routine thrown off by going through doping control after practice. The upside for the players is that they would not be awoken early in the morning in this scenario, and they would also be untouched until they finished their practice for the day.

    3. Good comment, Mike. I have another hypothesis. If the match winner has an adverse finding occurring during the tournament, the ITF will be obliged to prevent that player from continuing in the tournament. This effectively means the player is suspended but as is the wont of the ITF, the suspension is not announced. Even the media will be asking questions (sarcasm intended). This is a potentially embarrassing situation and difficult to explain.
      Much easier for the ITF to allow suspended players to make up their own stories to explain why they are having time off between tournaments. As seems to be the case, temporary suspensions never result in announced bans anyway and the general public is none the wiser.
      It seems to me that the ITF is conducting a clandestine anti-doping program of sorts but that they are severely conflicted by an interest to protect the marketability of their brand.

    4. The conclusion of what I was saying is that it's too risky for the ITF to test the winners because if you catch someone out, you actually have to do something about it!

    5. SNR, the current testing system is predictable only in a certain sense. A player still cannot predict when he/she will be tested, because he can't predict when he will win or lose. So there is unpredictability.

      Perhaps a better system would be the current one plus a few random winner tests, at some extra cost. That would mitigate the only problem I can see: a well-juiced top player who is confident of making it through the early rounds while his PED levels drop. It's difficult to design an optimal system. Do you have any ideas for a better in-competition testing regime?

    6. Yes, you have to test on off-days. It doesn't matter whether players are tested after a win or loss, after first round or the final, they will test clean. You have to test on off-days, because that's the only chance of getting somebody within the approximately 19-hour window where EPO will show up on a test (if you assume it is detectable at all).

    7. Mike,

      The current testing system is predictable in that a tennis player knows with 100% certainty what to do in order to test clean. They know that if they lose, they could get tested. This allows them to caliberate their doses to avoid detection in the event that they lose. The current loser-targeted testing enables in-competition doping without risk.

      This is why a better in-competition testing system must put significant resources into off-day testing. Off-day testing ups the uncertainty level considerably, and, as a result, disrupts in-competition doping. In some cases, this could involve testing a player more than once on a off-day (e.g., a morning test followed by a mid-afternoon or evening test).

      More improvements would be for the ITF to adopt the biological passport to see if player profiles vary significantly during the tournament. Of course, this requires the ITF to increase blood testing, which is the opposite of what they have been doing. To properly implement the passport would require winner-targeted testing, which makes sense to me.

      Overall, off-day testing, coupled with winner targeted post-match testing, and adopting the biological passport would be a quantum leap in terms of the quality of in-competition testing in tennis. The remaining critical piece of the puzzle would be a significant increase in out of competition testing.

    8. Speaking of designing a new system: Does anyone know how much blood they take for an EPO test?

      If it's only a small amount, then I would suggest that a blood sample be taken from every player, every day during a Grand Slam Tournament. That isn't difficult and doesn't cost much.

      If budget allows, the ITF then tests any number of those samples on a random basis but also a complete set of samples for players that have been targeted for reasons such as exceptional performance or other indicators.

    9. EPO test is a urine test. Some federations use a blood sample as a screen because EPO tests are expensive.

      Normal blood sample is less than a tablespoon.

  6. I feel the same, I try to speak people about doping, they just won't listen. People truely don't want to know that this so called "The gentlemen sport" is one of the dirtiest. There is no sportsmanship here, imagine how all the kids, how Nations would feel if they know they heroes are cheaters. Nobody wins there except from morality and fairness

  7. The Olympics have killed my love for sport. It's dead to me. The blatant doping in SO MANY events makes me believe that nobody at the top can be clean. They all follower Omerta, because they are all dirty. In tennis would bet all the top 20 or so dope. Even Federer. Sport and Hollywood may as well be viewed as the one. Fairly entertaining, but what you are watching is no reality.

  8. Sen, I think it is fair to criticise the ITF testing regime as weak. However I am yet to be convinced that any current testing programme is capable of catching the cheats. We know that ten years ago the dopers could mask their doping. Comments from recent posters like Richard Ings suggest that current testing technology may be even further behind. My question is how does it avail us to produce a more vigorous testing programme if the testing technology is inadequate?

    1. I often do wonder exactly how far behind the testers are in regards to catching the dopers.

      This guy claims there are several variants of EPO that are undetectable by current EPO tests (apologies if this link has been posted before - it is from back in March 2012):


      Anti-doping specialist Mario Thevis has warned that conventional tests for blood doping are insufficient, and that up to 100 undetectable EPO variants have been designed.

      The German was speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport 2012 conference in London, and stressed the importance of developing methods to detect their use.

      "They act like EPO but they are structurally different and that means the current EPO tests will not pick them up," Thevis, who is based at the German Sports University in Cologne, said, according to Reuters.

      "Fortunately we know about that problem and we have to develop new tests to help to find these drugs that, according to anecdotal evidence and rumours, are already used in elite sports, although they are not officially launched yet.”

      He said that the substances were not widely available, and that those seeking to obtain the substances would need ‘good connections.’

      However in the past athletes have gained access to clinical trial products and black market supplies.


      (Rest of story at link)

  9. nicholas delpopolo was tested positive for marihuana. the olympics are finally doping free.

  10. Victor Conte could catch the cheats and the grand slam tournaments could finance effective tennis anti-doping.

    There is no political will to do this.

    1. There's no political will because there is too much money involved. Think about the scandal of Ben Johnson, the Festina or Landis scandal. Sponsors don't want to be associated with a sport which is publicly linked to doping. They don't mind doping when it produces exciting sports, 'thrilling' finals, and good narratives that ensure lots of positive press coverage.

      Let me give you an example. I work at a university. One of our students is a very good athlete. Good enough to win at the Olympics. So all time the University was out pimping her 'former student X,Y,Z who studied here win at blah, blah, blah'. Now, later on said athlete gets popped for doping. The University drop her like a hot potato. Airbrushed from history, she never ever came here, no mention of her ever. Anyway, she served her ban, came back and started winning again. Lo and behold the University suffers a second bout of amnesia, and forgets that she was ever popped for doping and instead goes back to pimping her.

      You only have to look at FIFA or the UCI to see how corrupt the sporting authorities are.

      Likewise, what about the press - I am pretty sure Bodo has a very comfy life just rehashing press releases and writing puff columns. He isn't slumming it as he travels the world to events and hangs out with the players, sponsors and the blazers.

      Really the athletes are the fall guys. You can bust any number of athletes but the bad guys in all of this are not the athletes, but the authorities and the media.

    2. The buck stops with the athlete, Moonax, otherwise there's no certainty in life.

      Acting complicitly in doping athletes for performance could be made a criminal offence by national authorities. This would help to control the scourge of doping doctors. They won't do this either, also for political reasons. Some countries already do this. The Italian Carabinieri seem quite strong although they probably receive scant support.

    3. I don't disagree with you.

      The problem is that while the athlete gets banned, the doctor who gave him the drugs, the team manager who arranged the drugs, the national authority or sponsor who gave the money to buy the drugs, the journalist who turns a blind eye to the doping, all go free and all pretend that it was nothing to do with them.

      Unless you are Riccardo Ricco and doing DIY blood transfusion you need help in order to dope. The aiders and abettors never get punished.

      Sporting fraud is a good start, the problem is that politicians know that sporting success is a good bandwagon to jump on, so no one is going to kill the golden geese laying the gold medal eggs. Look at the resistance to congressional hearings about doping in US sports. The police if they are interested in catching dopers (and I am not sure in many countries - especially the UK - that they are) will be under political and public pressure not to investigate and instead to concentrate on 'real crimes'.

    4. Conte has offered to assist authorities in drug testing. He is vocal about what they are missing and what they aren't testing for. WADA, USADA, etc. have all said they don't want his help.

      I know Conte is/was a sleaze, but sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil to get results. Call me naive, but I think they should at least listen to what he has to say.

      It's like Frank Abagnale who was a master thief, conman and forger - after he served his jail time, he became a security consultant and now helps the FBI out in fraud, counterfeit and security cases. His help was welcomed by authorities because of his "expertise" in crime.

      But I agree with Moonax completely. The athletes aren't blameless, of course, but the journalists and sports authorities have little interest in helping to catch the cheats.

  11. Should the lack of young players in the top 50 also be considered evidence of doping? There are only a handful of players under age 25 in the entire top 50.


    Schwazer allegedly linked to Michele Ferrari.,%20mi%20ritiro%27


    Elite runners from Kenya admits doping in the ARD

    The Kenyan distance runner Mathew Kisorio.
    Mathew Kipkoech Kisorio is a world class athlete - and he has doped. ARD-doping expert Hajo Seppelt and television writer Robert Kempe have gone with the assistance of the ARD correspondent Jochen Tassler on the trail of the Long Distance Runner and hit the 23-year-old tenth of the Boston Marathon. In an interview with ARD Kisorio was the first Kenyan athlete to publicly, use of banned substances to have been tampered with. Hajo Seppelt Interview with about the background, knowledge, and the anti-doping campaign in Kenya.

    Mr. Seppelt, as it has come to a meeting with Mathew Kisorio?
    Seppelt, we have researched in Kenya for several months on possible doping practices. Once there, we could already make some curious observations, has increased in parallel, the number of doping cases clearly were evident in Kenya. A case was Mathew Kisorio. He is an absolute world-class runner who runs 10,000 m in 27 minutes. On 14 June he was at the Kenyan Championships in Nairobi tested positive for a steroid. We then tried in Kenya, to get at him, which we succeeded. In an interview he granted to the first Kenyan to have manipulated on a grand scale.


    Confession: Kenya's top runners Kisorio talking about doping
    The marathon and 10,000 m specialist Mathew Kisorio speaks first Kenyan elite runners openly about doping practices in his country. A contribution of ARD-doping expert Hajo Seppelt.

    Video (4:41 min)
    For what reasons he has entrusted to you?
    Seppelt: He apparently hopes that he gets through the elucidation of the facts of a reduced block by the National Association of Kenya. Therefore, he has gone on the offensive and has spoken to us.

    Why did he drugged?
    Seppelt: He claims that he has incited to his doctor. With better results, which are easier by doping, an athlete earned money. Because the doctor wanted to appear to have his share. The doctor has apparently given him injections of banned substances and tablets also given. One of these tablets led to the alleged positive test.

    "Credibility shattered"

  14. ARD-doping expert Hajo Seppelt in London.
    Kisorio is an isolated incident or is distinguished from a system?
    Seppelt: By Kisorios statements give the impression that he is not only affected, but it is a common phenomenon in Kenya. His credo is that many doctors in Kenya over the entire country to work with athletes, including a doctor, with whom he was dealing, among other things, is said to have looked after but also other world class athletes. You may also Olympic participants. The doctors can be consequently reflected even in places where live preferred athletes, such as in the training camps in the highlands. His observations on this practice, not an isolated phenomenon, but is spread all over Kenya. The athletes are more or less the victim of a profit-driven medical profession, he says.

    Do you think this likely?
    Seppelt: I do not think it's only Sun I can not imagine that the coaches and managers who come mainly from Europe by the way know nothing about it. But he did not interview the accused, at least.

    In the Kenyan Olympic team, there was no positive test. What significance does this have?
    Seppelt: It was at these Olympic games ever not had a single positive test in the competition. All previous cases of doping at the Olympics are due to pre-Olympic tests, ie outside the direct control of Olympic competition. But that's nothing special. In the competition controls are only the dumbest, because the funds are broken down by then, actually. Nonetheless, the credibility of the Kenyan athletics is shaken. Moreover, no one can longer claim that this Laufwunder à la East Africa only to highland, good food and the refinement is due. It also plays an important role. But you must realize certain that illicit substances are also a part.

    What type doping is exactly?
    Seppelt: In Kisorio is steroids. He speaks of it but that seems too EPO injections, ie, blood doping can be administered, and also funding, stimulate the mind.

    As the anti-doping campaign in Kenya is organized?
    Seppelt: Certainly not optimal. There is now a Kenyan Anti-Doping Agency. You can test due to lack of funds only in a very reduced level in the country. The biggest problem is that in Kenya there are no blood tests, for logistical reasons because they are not feasible. This is obviously distressing, especially as Kenyan runners in the world for many years head of the middle and long distances are here. They are sometimes checked, because once they are traveling in Europe. But not in their own country.

    Interview by Bettina Lenner,

    As of: 08/06/2012 15:23

    1. the ARD seems to be more serious about doping then ZDF. their commentator of the 100m race, an ex-runner by the way, said that life long bans were not the way to go, while speaking about justin gatlin. he also mentioned, that usain bolt gains his amazing results from his special anatomic properties and how he constantly gained more confident during this year, so that he could come to london and win the way he did. what i really missed, was the omission of gluten in the dietary plans of the runners. other then that, it pretty much reminded me of the explanations used in the tennis world.

  15. Some new comments from Charles Yesalis:

    “People have asked me for years, ‘How clean is Lance Armstrong?’ I said I think he is as clean as the other 50 guys in the peloton.

    “I just assumed that Phelps and all the rest of them are pretty much equally clean — or not clean. It’s a relatively level playing field.”

    AND then he says this:

    "Yesalis said he thought drug testing should be eliminated.

    “It serves as a facade to make people think they’re watching cleaner sports, but they’re really not,” he said. “We’ve had testing since the 1960s; I’m sorry, I don’t think anything’s gotten better. I don’t feel very optimistic that we’ve made any progress.”

    1. We've seen similar quotes from Yesalis before. I tend to agree that testing should be eliminated if it's only being used as a facade, as appears to be the case in tennis. The problem I have is that it creates an unfair advantage for elite players to do the testing the way it's currently done. The top echelon of players can easily afford the drugs and experts to beat tests, while the middling players run the risk of getting caught using stimulants or less "designer" type substances. The end result is a system where everybody preaches about how stringent it is, but also a system where only less privileged athletes run the risk of being caught. The only two ways to level the playing field are to get way better (and try harder) at catching cheats or not to test at all.

    2. Would have to agree that it is a level playing field. It doesn't hold up that one or two players near the top of the sport would be doping while the rest wouldn't, irrespective of what the sport is. To me that's something that has never made logical sense or held water. I agree it is a facade but I disagree that progress hasn't been made. I think WADA and other similar organizations are approaching this the wrong way. They need to let folks who have doped and have health issues later in life come back and talk to emerging players to show them what happens from a longer term risk perspective. Maybe there's nothing science can't solve but athletes that employ a win at all costs mentality eventually end up paying for it in another way, someday.

    3. A level playing field in what sense?

      You assume that:

      i) All players have access to the same doping regimes - ignoring that some doping regimes are better than others. (cf Fuentes running different doping regimes)

      ii) That all players have equal resources to devote to procuring doping products. (cf Fuentes having tailored doping programs to suit the budget of the athlete)

      iii) That all players take the same amount of drugs. (cf Ullrich who doped but never to the same extent that Armstrong did. Teamates reported that they were shocked about how little he took).

      iv) That all players respond the same to drugs. We know that different people respond differently to drugs. Some people are 'better responders'.

      Yesalis, like Singer and others are doping apologists who use sophist arguments in order to excuse doping, arguments which sadly do not stand up to empirical scrutiny.

    4. " creates an unfair advantage for elite players to do the testing the way it's currently done. The top echelon of players can easily afford the drugs and experts to beat tests, while the middling players run the risk of getting caught using stimulants or less "designer" type substances"

      This is the crux of the problem, IMHO. Tennis is unlike any other sport in that the financial incentive is nearly doubled for every victory. For example, the top 4 players combined earn approximately a quarter of the TOTAL prize money earned by the entire field. The top 10 earns 35-40% (someone feel free to check my numbers). These percentages are staggering compared to other sports.

      So my question is this (although I know it will never happen): shouldn't the distribution of testing be proportional to the players' earnings? For example the proportion spent on testing Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray combined would comprise a quarter of the total. I know the claim is that the testing budget is limited (which I also think is BS), but if it so happens that the 100th ranked player only gets tested once every other year, so be it. That would seem to be a more equitable system, and the proof is in the pudding as evidenced by the fact that the only players caught are the nobodies.

    5. There is one and only one reason that doping will never be legalized, and it has nothing to do with ethics.

      Sports fans face a basic dilemma. On the one hand, they demand to see the kind of superhuman athletic feats that are only possible with the use of PEDs. They want to see demigods jump ever higher, run ever faster, and hit ever harder. Such a continually escalating level of performance is almost impossible to achieve without doping.

      On the other hand, many sports fans still cling to an antiquated notion that athletes are engaged in a noble, honorable enterprise, concerned not so much with winning as with a quest of self-development through rigorous physical and mental training.

      By these lights, athletic contests aren't really about winning the most, but about pitting ourselves against the best opponents to measure our level and to spur us on to surpass our own limitations--we've all heard the spiel from Mom, Dad, and coach, I'm sure.

      We expect to find immorality, greed, and corruption in nearly all walks of life, and we get sick of it. Athletics is supposed to be a safe zone from which those baser aspects of human nature are excluded, where we can safely cheer for our heroes without wondering whether we're being conned.

      All of this is manifestly incompatible with the cynical, greedy mentality that doping embodies.

      This inherent contradiction means that sports must always straddle a very fine dividing line between being too clean (hence boring) and being too dirty (hence endangering the illusion of honorable athletic competition).

      So most people don't really want clean sport--they want the pretense of clean sport, and those are two very different things.

      We want two fundamentally antithetical things--to be dazzled by godlike athletic feats while simultaneously retaining our naive, comfortable, childlike belief that athletes are good people.

      We want to live in a fool's paradise, so we're willing to play the fool to a great degree. But when the doping becomes too pervasive and blatant, the discrepancy between reality and our beliefs just becomes too overwhelming to ignore. That's when most people start complaining about doping. Not before.

      Most people don't really want doping to be eliminated. They just want the doping to be kept down to an acceptable level--the highest level that they are capable of ignoring.

      If doping were legalized, our illusions about the nature of sport would be destroyed. We would no longer be able to deny that what we're watching is a sham. We would KNOW that they were all using. We would KNOW that their performance was more dependent on the quality of their pharmaceuticals rather than their native ability or work ethic. WE WOULD KNOW all and precisely those things that we don't want to know. We would no longer be able to keep the secret from ourselves.

      We would have to openly acknowledge that our athletes aren't noble heroes, but venal, ruthless mercenaries who play almost exclusively for the sake of money, fame, and the gratification of their own oversized egos, and who will do whatever it takes to get even the most incremental sliver of an edge over their competitors, no matter how immoral or self-destructive it might be.

      In other words, we would have to stop believing in Santa Claus. And that would really suck.

      That's why we'll never legalize doping: it would mean the end of childhood.

    6. Wow. Great analysis, demisphere. Sad but all too true. I got a very angry response recently when (innocently, I thought) wondering if there is anyone left in cycling who doesn't dope. How dare I even refer to such a thing? I want to keep believing in Santa Claus, the person might as well have said. (The Santa Claus myth itself is a can of worms, incidentally, but let's not go there!)

      This doesn't mean that I don't hope and pray that some of today's top cyclists can actually do it without PEDs. I would LOVE to think that they could, but I have my doubts, eloquent articles about the reasons for not doping or no.

    7. You'll know when sport is clean when the events slow down and get less 'exciting'.

      The problem is that because of what sport 'should be' the media, sponsors and authorities are duty bound to pretend that there is no problem and that sport is clean.

      The moment that they admit that their sport is dirty is akin to telling children that Santa isn't real.

  16. Yet another example of why "strict liability" is the necessary approach in doping violations. AJ Allmendinger says a friend gave him Adderall, and he thought it was just some type of supplement for energy. If this type of excuse was allowed to trump strict liability, then it becomes almost impossible to punish anybody.

  17. This case need to be shown on every single Website related to tennis. Like many have said, the big losers here are the young player and player without much money, all the young players and those who come from humble families only have left the Challengers and Future tournaments. It freaking anoys me. Enough is enough. Money can help you until certain point, you buy good food, great trainers, gear and others but it can't buy you talent, now the ATP found the way to make things easier for those guys, make tennis more fisical. Before on each slam there was a upset, over and over and that made it more exceting, nowadays, it's the same guys who wim over and over. And they are the ones who cheat better than anybody else.

  18. Cheating = Doping = Cheating: A swimmer's rationale as to why he cheated at the Olympics.

    I am sure this same logic - if I don't cheat/dope, when I know others are doing it, I will lose - applies to all sports, not just in tennis.

  19. WADA confirms USADA jurisdiction in US Postal Service cycling case

    Also see:

  20. Sen. I think that T & R only works if there is also punishment. If you end up with amnesty and amnesia (as in Spain after Franco) you end up storing up a lot of problems. (You could argue that the difficulty of dealing with doping stems from a wider systemic culture of amnesia in Spain).

    It will achieve nothing if all that happens is a massive public soul searching and then everyone goes back as before.

    Everyone thought that after Festina that cycling would tidy up, in fact the reverse happened and doping became even more widespread and rampant afterwards.

    The problems of T & R are best summed up by these cartoons.

    1. Some exemplary bans, five years or more, followed by a T & R and then it might work.

      Also, with Victor Conte, why doesn't a sporting body take him up on his offer of assistance? Pay him handsomely, on results. We might then see the tide turn. And a parallel drop in match performance of the top pros. Wouldn't that be fun?

  21. The ITF statement is interesting because of what it doesn't say. So the question is:

    Are they going to investigate Del Moral's conduct at Tennis Val and his relationship with players?

    It seems to me that they have acknowledged the ban but intend to do nothing to investigate whether doping may have occurred within tennis.

    1. Indeed. Who are these "various tennis players"? And what happens next?

    2. Wonder how the mainstream tennis press will cover this. Nothing so far.

    3. Another thing, Moonax. I disagree with your cynicism. I'm sure the ITF will follow-up the Dr. Del Moral leads with the same vigor with which they pursued the "substantial assistance" provided by Wayne Odesnik!

    4. "Dr Garcia del Moral practices sports medicine in Valencia, Spain, and in that capacity has worked with various tennis players."

      It appears that they are trying to imply that he only worked with the tennis players in a professional, non-doping capacity. Any player who has had any contact with Del Moral should be under investigation. The guy was a doping doctor. He told cyclists directly that they were not professionals if they didn't dope. Is he somehow supposed be a legit sports doctor for tennis players and a doping doctor for cyclists?

    5. All totally legit, nothing to see here, move along.

      Personally, if I were a tennis player with a routine complaint, naturally the first doctor I would seek out would be that of renowned honest non-doper Lance Armstrong.

      Similarly, if I were a tennis academy, such an eminent client list would make him a perfect employee.

    6. Still no answer from the ITF about what they are going to do about players who have been working with del Moral previously, or how they are going to ensure that players are not working with him on the sly. (Remember Ferrari was banned from working with athletes but they were still able to work with him without any punishment).

  22. Cycling has picked up the ITF announcement, but nothing from tennis...

  23. I don't know with certainty if del Moral doped any tennis players, but I do know that it would be interesting if even one player was found to have been doped by him. Once one player is "outed," there would be no incentive to keep quiet anymore. Ask Lance Armstrong if that type of domino-effect has happened before.

    1. Has anyone seen Sara Errani lately? Maybe CONI might like to have a little chat with her.

    2. I wouldn't be surprised if they've already questioed her. Italy seems to be one of the most aggressive countries when it comes to anti-doping enforcement.

    3. I'd look for Errani to quietly disappear for awhile. I'd also look for players who are perfectly health but associated with Del Moral to also have a quiet suspension by the ITF. Does anyone have a list of tennis players who worked directly with Del Moral ?

    4. Did any of those players who worked with Del Moral pull out of Toronto? Oh yes. Ferrer.

    5. Errani most recently got waxed by Venus at the Olympics.

  24. Steve Tignor talk PEDs in today's column:

    Starts under the heading "Reality Check"

    1. Good for him, but the crowd got off to a usual stampedo way off the track, discussing whether thee Serena has the right to shake her booty whichever way she likes or not. Which is what it's all about, few loners excepted. Sadly so.

    2. At least Tignor - at times - tries to talk about this issue. I'm sure he has been told by his bosses not to, but at least he talks about it unlike his brain-dead colleague Peter Bodo.

      Not surprised the comment section descended into inanity - what else is new?

  25. For those wanting to read the USADA deliver a big time smackdown on UCI and Armstrong:

  26. First of all,that system maybe is fallin'apart.
    There are good signs.
    By the way,cycling and track and field are far better than other sports now,not because they are d****g free but for exposing their dirt.
    I think it could be time for tennis and other professional sports...
    There is not a certain list of Garcia del Moral tennis players.
    But we can name Safin,Safina,Ferrer,Kirilenko,Andreev,Medina,Errani...

    Sorry for my english.


  27. It's official. Nadal pulls out of Cincinnati. Confirmed via his twitter account.

    1. Ok I rest my case. He got caught! Sorry Rosol but you're not that good.

    2. And here is an example of why people who aren't already fully invested in the notion that doping is rampant in tennis think this blog is ridiculous.

    3. Seems very likely. Makes me wonder why he bothered to take it to 5 sets and bump Rosol at the changeover, however. Any theories?

    4. The opinions of those naive enough to think this blog is ridiculous are not worth counting, swoon. Presumably you are not one of them, since you appear to subscribe to it.

    5. This post wasn't meant to have any player-insulting, remember?

      So I really don't want to debate here. But as you insist...has it occurred to you that...he might actually be injured, and that is why he had to pull out? Not to mention some on this blog insisted he would play Toronto and Cinci, and that would "prove" he shied away from the Olympics due to drug testing or 'silent ban'.

      And yeah, seriously, if he had got caught at Wimbledon, do you really think he'd have thrown the match? If there really were such things as "silent bans", don't you think they'd have insisted he withdrew without playing? Rather than the farce of 'throwing' a match, which is illegal.

      As to the bump, if you're trying to intimidate someone, you don't apologize to them, which is what he did. He was probably just distracted and didn't look where he was going.

    6. Thank you Tavi for delivering to us the perfect example of an oxymoron.

      As a wise man once said, "actions speak louder than words". Give the readers of this blog more credit; your intentions are crystal clear.

      SNR, perhaps time to start a new thread before it gets ugly again?

    7. Oh, do explain your crypticness...

    8. Tavi, how do you explain your view that the top players aren't doping against the clear fact that tennis has a lousy testing programme, and where there are loopholes of any kind it is repeatedly demonstrated, in other sports if not tennis, that competitors will dope? (The DG of WADA has said there will be "hundreds" of dopers at the Olympics. But not anywhere in tennis?)

    9. I know this thread isn't supposed to be about Nadal but in reply to Tavi who believes Nadal is injured. How many times has Nadal played a tournament supposedly injured? And then used that excuse when he lost or, amazingly enough, gone on the win the tournament despite his injury? This guy says he's injured yet showed no signs of injury during his last match which was against Rosol at Wimbledon. And he never took an MTO which he usually does quite freely when "injured". Now he's pulled out of three very important tournaments saying he's injured still but no one has officially said it's the knees or told the public what specific injury it is that's hampering him. It's the media that has just assumed it's the knees. If he pulls out of the USO there's definitely something fishy going on.

    10. Lopi:

      1. He played badly against this guy Rosol no one's ever heard of, and you think that's evidence he DOESN'T have an injury? And when has he amazingly gone on to win the tournament despite an injury? Are you thinking of this year's FO? I wouldn't call it an amazing win. He was subpar against Djokovic, and if it had been the Djokovic of last year or even if that rain hadn't happened, we'd have been looking at a different outcome. And the FO is meant to be his easy win.

      2. No, I wouldn't see fishiness if he pulls out the USO. I am actually hoping he does! My feeling is that he probably won't, because of ranking concerns and missing too much, but if he's pulling out of Cinci to give himself more time, it'll likely be a last minute decision for the USO. And if it's that bad, I'd rather he take the season off.

      3. Rafa has actually come out and said it was tendinitis on his fb page. His team don't normally like to talk about his injuries; I don't think any player does, lest it give the competition a psychological advantage. But with Rafa, it is no surprise it is the knees again. Tendinitis is chronic. You can manage it, but I don't think it's curable, and everytime the knees give way for Rafa, the recovery period gets worse. He used to just have to pull out one tourney. Then he ended up missing slams. This year seems to be the worst.

      Now that pattern would be consistent with a chronic knee injury that although in short term rest can make better, in long term is just going to get worse gradually and gradually. The most Rafa can hope for is to *decelerate* the rate of decay. Not stop it.

      4. So if you ask me why I think he's more likely to be injured than "silent banned", the above is a factor. I suppose you could believe that every time he gets silent banned, they increase it the size of the ban as a punishment, but that might be reaching...

      Oh yes, and, well, how about the fact that we know he has dodgy knees. How could we not? Look at his playing style and practising habits from the past. Even now. It's improved but too little/too late. He is clearly going to have knee problems. Roger Federer has spoken about them, and that he can spot when the knees are really bothering Rafa.

      So yes, I'm not seeing why it is such a stretch to believe he's injured with the chronic tendinitis he has got.

    11. Richard - see the waffle I wrote you in the Serena thread about conspiracy theories and unfalsifiability. I will wait for the positive test.

      Also, I think it's a sad view of human nature you have. Yes, if there is a culture where drug-testing is feeble (either 1. due to lack of funding making testing effective...or 2. due to testing being effective but there is a conspiracy of silence), sure there are incentives for players to dope. But will all respond to the incentive the same way? Individuals have different identities, preferences, backgrounds, all of which shape their interest. Some may take an ethical standpoint. Others may be less risk-taking. You just can't know. Not *everyone* will dope.

      A more effective way of pursuing your agenda for a clean sport would be to call for more funding and monitoring/restructuring of the drug testing regime/agencies. Rather than campaign that all players are guilty until proven innocent. It's just going to hurt your cause.

    12. I didn't say ALL players will dope, given the opportunity and the incentive. False argument. You, however, maintain that you don't think the top players (or at least your favorites)are doping. Naive. Demonstrably so, in the light of what we know of doping practices throughout professional sports. I don't think it's a "sad view of human nature" to recognise that people will respond to temptation - particularly if they know they can get away with it. Lastly, my experience of following sports for several decades gives me (and others) a fairly informed view of what the (trained) human body is generally capable of. Many of the players you admire break all the rules in that regard. We have a right to be suspicious of their performances, even without the confirmation of a failed drugs test.

  28. Various feeble-minded journalists and others have opined that doping does not help in endurance sports. This guy found it efficacious in race walking.

    "A blood sample taken from Schwazer just before the opening of the Olympics tested positive for the substance erythropoietin, more commonly referred to as EPO, a substance which can increase the blood's oxygenation. EPO has been the synthetic drug of choice for endurance athletes, with the world-record-holding race walker's positive test just the latest EPO scandal to plague competitive race walking, let alone more popular and lucrative sports like competitive cycling."

    My question is, what kind of drugs are indicated for Monty Python style "funny walking?"

    1. What's interesting is some of the reasons Schwazer gives for doping:

      First, he "wanted the gold again at all costs." This shows once again, and contrary to what many journalists assert, that top athletes are willing to throw everything away for one more chance at glory. He also said he felt "expectations that I had to dominate even more than before."

      Second, he said another reason for taking EPO was that "I couldn't stand the training anymore," and "I do the race work because I'm good at it, but I don't like working at it." So, again, we see that PEDs are used because they make training required to wine easier and more bearable. Make no mistake athletes are looking for shortcuts and they are not above cheating even when they are getting tested. And I think we can all agree that the IAAF has a better testing regime than the ITF.


    2. Cheaters get a natural 'high' from breaking the rules, a new study has found.

      Far from feeling guilty about not playing fair, dishonest people benefit from a 'cheaters high', researchers claim.

      The University of Washington, London Business School, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have carried out a series of studies into how cheaters perceive their actions.
      The studies showed that most people predicted they’ll feel bad about cheating, but most felt good after doing it.

      It added that cheaters, even when under suspicion of breaking the rules, felt better off and smarter than their non-cheating colleagues.

      Read more:

  29. Hmm..I was hoping there would be more of a mention of Rafa's pulling out of Cincy. Perhaps tommorow.

    So, of course Nadal never looks hurt or impaired on a court...makes it look more and more like there may be a silent ban going on. The question is ITF or Olympics. I have to thinkt he Olympics would have no problem outting rafa..they have no reason to shield him like the ITF. But if its the ITF, why even bother with the ban.

    1. Sen no RikyūAugust 6, 2012 3:55 PM

      Ok. Aside from the two comments above, this will be a Nadal free thread. No Serena, Federer, or Murray. In fact, no player talk at all.

    2. you wish. Unfortunately when the subject is PED's the conversation always seems to come back to Nadal. Why is that?

    3. Nice. :(

      Obviously it can't have anything to do with so many commentators here being die hard Roger fans who are so unaccustomed to dissent that they label people with opposing views as trolls. Definitely not!

      Other than that, if you believe that all sports people with big muscles and great stamina are dopers, then Rafa's an easy target for you.

    4. The "no player talk" injunction has been breached at least twice: there was a long discussion about Errani starting with Moonax's comment of August 8, 2012 10:13 AM, and one poster mentioned a whole host of players: " Safin,Safina,Ferrer,Kirilenko,Andreev,Medina,Errani..."

      Not one peep from you about "no player talk." It appears to be a matter of complete indifference to you.

      But suddenly people start talking about Nadal, and you make two comments within about an hour, indignantly bringing up the "no player talk" both times. Suddenly it becomes the most important thing in the world to you and you get worked up into a state of high dudgeon.

      I guess we know why you're here on this blog, eh?

    5. I hadn't actually noticed most of the others. Just one thing about Errani, and as it seemed mere speculation about her association with a doctor, rather than a certain denunciation, it didn't bother me too much.

      But yes, I've not hidden that I'm a Rafa fan, and I am motivated by the need to defend him. Fighting against the conspiracy theory rationalization culture is only a secondary motive. I will still do it if I have time, though!

      For instance, I have argued in the Serena post against assuming she takes drugs. And I DO NOT LIKE Serena one bit. I thoroughly dislike her, actually. There is no bias in her favour there. But I still challenged the way it was assumed she was doping because of her physique.

      You know, I really don't have time to respond to everything, and I have to pick the things which most irritate me. Which will inevitably be the claims against Rafa. Not hiding that.

  30. On the subject of doping positives. It seems to me that the IOC have introduced a policy of not announcing medal winners who have 'pissed hot' until after the games.

    This helps to avoid any of those embarrassing TV pictures of athletes being escorted out of the athletes village and of course those 'nasty negative' stories which the IOC and the sponsors are keen to avoid. Much easier to ban people once the media has gone home.

    Good bit of 'protecting the brand' from the IOC.

  31. So far, aside from Tignor's reference, this is the only commentary I can find on the ITF's news releases on Dr. del Moral:

    In Swedish:
    Google Translation:

    What's interesting is that most of the outlets reporting the Armstrong/UCI/WADA/USADA feud have made reference to the ITF's announcements (e.g.,

    Yet where is the coverage by the fulltime time tennis media? The story hasn't even made it on to the ticker.

    1. I wasn't really expecting it to, sad to say. They just flat-out don't care.

  32. Silver medallist in the women's 200m track at London, Carmelita Jeter, faced questions from the press after her race about her connections with Mark Block, the controversial coach banned for 10 years last year because of his links to the Balco doping scandal.

    A wonderful night for the USA's athletics team turned sour when Carmelita Jeter was questioned about her links with the controversial former coach, Mark Block. After finishing third in the 200m, Jeter became the first USA woman to win Olympic medals in both sprints at the same Games since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. Block, the husband of the former world 200m champion Zhanna Pintusevich-Block, was banned from athletics for 10 years in 2011 because of his connections to the Balco doping scandal.

    "I am going to count to 10," Jeter said. "I am up here, I am a woman who has a medal in the 100m and 200m now, and for me to be asked that bothers me." Jeter explained that Block was a close friend of hers, and that "whatever happened with Mark Block before I came to Mark Block, has absolutely nothing to do with me".

    Block founded Total Sports Management, the company that represents Jeter. "I love that man, I love his family, I love his daughter," Jeter said. "Yes, he was banned, but that does not mean he cannot be a manager or an agent. He comes to meets that I am at because he is a great supporter of mine."