Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Initial Thoughts: Lessons for Tennis from the USADA Decision (Update #2)

The USADA's "Reasoned Decision" has important lessons for tennis. Let's take a look at a few excerpts.
Page 68-9: "At the 2003 Tour de France the team doctor Dr. del Moral gave Hincapie and Floyd Landis a small syringe of olive oil into which was dissolved a form of testosterone known as Andriol two out of every three nights during the Tour.
Page 136, Footnote 771: 'Johan Bruyneel told Floyd Landis that testosterone patches could “be worn two out of three days after hard training for eight to ten hours at night, which would be relatively free of risk of detection.”'

Page 138: "...the riders knew that if they used EPO in the evening and avoided testers during the night (when testers rarely if ever came) they would not test positive by morning."

Page 138, Footnote 786: Tom Danielson told the USADA that "In 2006 Dr. Ferrari told me about a recipe for mixing small testosterone balls known as Andriol in olive oil. I was instructed to place the mixture in a container and extract 1 ml with a syringe and squirt the liquid under my tongue. This was supposed to be done at night, and I was told that by morning I would not test positive. This product was known as the ‘oil,” and I would get it as needed from Pepe Marti."

So, the evidence gathered by the USADA reveals that doping at night was considered the ideal time both in-competition and out-of-competition. However, in tennis, the ITF only conducts post-match doping controls for in-competition testing. No off-day testing is conducted at Grand Slam events.

As for out-of-competition testing, Stuart Miller, the head of the tennis anti-doping program, has this to say: "I would say as a rule there’s not much testing that goes on between 11 at night and 6 in the morning. If you had credible information that players were using that time for doping – and it would have to be credible information – then there is nothing to stop you from going and trying to collect samples at that time. I believe that those are few and far between."

Based on this information, how much nighttime doping do you think is taking place on the ATP and WTA tours? Would anyone be surprised if it was rampant?

And what of Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral? I'll just use one quote:

Page 108: "One of [Johan] Bruyneel’s first acts was to replace Dr. Celaya, the U.S. Postal team physician in 1997 and 1998, with Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral who had provided services to the ONCE team. At the end of the 1998 season Lance had complained to Jonathan Vaughters that Celaya was too conservative in the way he dispensed doping products. Armstrong’s comment about Dr. Celaya was along the lines of, the team “might as well race clean, he wants to take your temperature to give you even a caffeine pill.” “Dr. del Moral was far more aggressive than Dr. Celaya in providing doping products to riders.”
So, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral was brought in because he was more liberal in providing doping products to riders. And, as we know, Dr. del Moral worked with various tennis players and had other affiliations in tennis (see "The Social Network" post). What investigation has the ITF conducted to ensure that no tennis players were provided doping products by Dr. del Moral? Given the USADA report, is it credible to assume that tennis players sought him out for legitimate medical care?

Last quote for tonight, page 137 of the decision states "Dr. Ferrari advised the use of hypoxic chambers to reduce the effectiveness of the EPO test in detecting the use of synthetic EPO."

How many tennis players are using such chambers (e.g., an altitude tent)?

Update #1:

Page 117 of the USADA decision states "Dr. del Moral would authorize cortisone for the riders for fictitious injuries." Given this information, has the ITF, at any time, granted a therapeutic use exemption to a player based on a medical diagnosis provided by Dr. del Moral?

Update #2:

Offered without comment:

Sara Errani:  "He [Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral] was the best doctor in Valencia for everything."

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

USADA Decision:

P. 28: "Pepe Marti and Dr. del Moral were the riders’ principal sources of EPO and testosterone."

P. 33: 'Pepe or Dr. del Moral would bring the EPO to the riders either in their camper or hotel room. The EPO was already loaded in syringes upon delivery and the riders “would inject quickly and then put the syringes in a bag or Coke can and Dr. del Moral would get the syringe out of the camper as quickly as possible.”'

P. 38: "The blood extraction was to be performed in Valencia, Spain, the hometown of Dr. del Moral and Pepe Marti."

P. 111: "Ferrari and del Moral supervised the blood extraction process. Marti and del Moral would be responsible for re-infusing the blood during the Tour."

P. 115: 'Christian Vande Velde recalled Dr. del Moral as “gruff, aggressive and always seemed in a hurry.” Vande Velde said, del Moral “would run into the room and you would quickly find a needle in your arm."'

P. 116: 'Jonathan Vaughters explained that Dr. del Moral was “far more aggressive than Dr. Celaya in providing doping products to riders” and in 1999 “came into the early season training camp in Solvang, California, with an Excel spreadsheet, on which, after meeting with each rider and discussing their schedule, he had developed a doping plan, and he would tell us, ‘this is when you use growth hormone, this is when to start EPO.”'


  1. The common theme for most of the quotes you posted is the desire to test clean by morning. As we know, tennis players don't have to worry about that at the slams. Even if they wouldn't test clean by morning, they won't even be tested until the following afternoon anyway (because that first morning is their off-day; and no testing is done of off-days).


    The last time it was done, as far as I'm aware, was at the 2009 French (by AFLD). Of course, AFLD can't be allowed to test anymore, because that's too much of an imposition on players.

    If the ITF is going to only do tests after matches at slams, they may as well take the money that it costs to do those tests and light it on fire. It's real noble work they're doing popping people for buying Jack3d at GNC, because they can't afford actual (or don't have access to) the real doping products.

    1. I was struck by the sums Armstrong wired to Ferrari for his annual doping-care-free package - Leipheimer, in comparison, got away cheaper - at least from what I read in the USADA decision so far - (15,000 $ vs. 100,000 to 150,000 $ by Armstrong).

      It's actually informative to know how much players are willing to pay for their little helpers.

      Obvs, the most sophisticated regimes need loads of money, whereas the smaller deals are affordable even by lower ranked players. In that light, the raising of the Slam price money gets a whole new meaning.

    2. This has been generally known since 2008 when Angel Heredia made it clear how it all worked in US track and field.

      The more you could afford the better you got, to the point where the highest prices paid for a completely undetectable package as he proved with his most notable client, Marion Jones. Unlike Armstrong, she never, as far as we know, actually did test positive.

      In his opinion, to control doping the top performers in any sport all need putting on bio-passports and testing twice a week. I can just see the ATP/WTA top ten or twenty going along with that.

  2. Off the top of my head, I recall Raul the former Spanish national player using a hypoxic tent. Come to think of it, didn't the entire English national team use them prior to the World Cup? Not that they do any testing in football anyway though.

  3. This whole Armstrong saga and the seven vacant Tour de France titles leaves a bittersweet taste. It's an eye opener in terms of how widespread and sophisticated doping is in professional sport, but it creates a funny impression that what we are witnessing in tennis these days is not real and will probably end up in 7 vacant French Open titles a few years down the road..

  4. On the topic of Nadal being suspected of serving a silent doping ban, what are this blog views on Soderling prolonged stay on the sidelines?

    1. who knows with soderling...could be legit mono, could be ban, who knows?

    2. There is some informed medical discussion about the use of EPO making an athlete more susceptible to outbreaks of glandular fever/mono. Federer, Ancic, Soderling et all have all reported mono in recent times. Coincidence?

    3. Meaning? Ancic and Federer are known (or suspected by many) dopers?:)
      If they are, then you're right, it's certainly not a coincidence. Thank you very much for pointing that out.

    4. Regrettably perhaps, there's no smoking gun in tennis although the circumstantial signs of doping are everywhere. My own suspicions/beliefs? Quite a bit of blood/EPO doping at the top done very secretly by very rich players using very discreet means plus a whole raft of lower-ranked players using doping clinics where the likes of Del Moral are found, and then of course the mugs who do it all off the internet. There was a case of the latter in cycling recently. He apparently made it all the way through from nowhere to becoming a Cat 2 rider (if I have my facts right). Quite extraordinary really, the lengths he went to but the competitive gains were huge. WADA is now concerned with doping knowledge being applied at the lower rungs of sport.

      The ITF maintain there is no evidence of systematic doping in tennis but have they really looked?

    5. No, no, you quite specifically mentioned "well informed medical discussions" on the link between EPO and mononucleosis. What exactly are you referring to?

    6. "The ITF maintain there is no evidence of systematic doping in tennis but have they really looked?"

      Top players get an average one out-of-comp test a year.

      They couldn't be friendlier to dopers if they tried.

    7. Well said Arf. The ITF anti doping bosses test once or twice OOC a year, plus IC testing, stick their head in the sand, and tell themselves that everything's ok because hey apparently players only actually play for 35 minutes a match. Miller just gets more ridiculous with each month. The fact he's is still in his job just shows how unseriously the whole tennis world takes anti-doping.

    8. Why on earth would the ITF want to uncover doping in tennis and risk commercial disaster for all concerned when all it needs to do is toss out a bone to a gullible public every now and again?

    9. It still blows me away that people think tennis players don't dope. I wonder if this cycling fiasco will help convince some of the doubters? And I also wonder if it will lead to more stringent testing?

    10. Like JMF, I would love to see the "informed medical discussions" linking EPO and mono. Let me guess - Dr. Sergio Cruz? 80-90 percent of adult humans carry the Epstein Barr Virus. Much much fewer ever become symptomatic with mono. If EPO use caused mono why does it only seem to affect tennis players? THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of athletes worldwide are using EPO. Why aren't a lot of cyclists coming down with mono? Why aren't footballers coming down with mysterious cases of mono? Everyone knows those sports are rife with EPO. There's a link between EPO and performance enhancement. Not a link between EPO and mono.


      In my opinion the cycling fiasco shows that testing as a waste of resources. I hope it leads to more stringent investigations into doping. Just my opinion.

    11. There are a ton of cyclists coming down with mono in the last decade or so, Sen did a post about it a while back:

      I've not seen anything linking it specifically with EPO, although it's kinda strange cycling and tennis have a flood of mono sufferers at the same time though. Given cycling is basically a chemistry competition, and tennis does no testing worth speaking of, it's not exactly speculation without foundation.

      By the way, testing did catch Armstrong multiple times, he just managed to repeatedly get away with it :-)

      1999 cortisone, his own dope doctor writes him a prescription.

      2001 Switzerland which he got out of with his "anti-doping donation"

      2005 the EPO retests

      2009 Ashenden pointed out to the UCI he was blatantly blood-doping.

      2010? whatever USADA have got in recent years, also on blood-doping

    12. Two riders who suffered with mono - Mick Rogers (currently of Sky) and Damiano Cunego. Both were named as attending Ferrari's camps in the USADA report.

    13. I don't get the connection between mono and EPO. If there is indeed a corelation between mono and some kind of medicine, why would it be tied to EPO why not another PED or why not some legit drug?

    14. Arf,

      Sen noted 12 cyclists over a 5+ year span and Moonax added 2. That's around 3 per year. Out of 250 or so top cyclists that amounts to 12 out of 1000 per year. That's nowhere near "a ton," and actually in line with the average.

      From American Family Physician website:

      "The infection is most common in populations with many young adults, such as active-duty military personnel and college students, in whom the annual incidence for infectious mononucleosis ranges from 11 to 48 cases per 1,000 persons."

      The incident rate for people younger than 10 and older than 30 drops to about 1 in 1000. I think it's safe to say professional tennis players and cyclists should fall in the lower end of the 11-48/1000 category.

      There are even fewer tennis players that come to mind: Ancic, Federer, Roddick, Soderling and seems like there are a couple more whose names I can't recall. But still not anywhere close to 4 out of 250 per year.

      In regards to Armstrong you make a good point that I overlooked. Advantage Arf.

    15. Now this what I call an informed medical discussion. Mononucleosis occurs in cycling and tennis as often as in the wider population, if not less. Thank you, Swisscheese40.

    16. There is no proven link between EPO misuse and glandular fever/mono as far as I know. However, I think the question has been posed.

      This piece of research indicates 'influenza like syndrome' as one contra-indication where EPO has been administered for normal medical reasons (anaemia typically).

    17. @swiss: Aside from the four you mention.....

      Mardy Fish
      Agnes Szavay
      Christina McHale
      John Isner
      Radek Stepanek
      Justine Henin
      Jelena Dokic
      Martion Bartoli
      Nicole Vaidosova
      Phillip Petzschner
      Alla Kudryavtseva
      Polona Hercog
      Michaela Krajicek?

      Plus others like Junqueira, Popp, Tomljanovic.

      That's just recently. Middle of last decade I remember:

      Sjeng Schalken
      Martin Verkerk (slam final 03 then disappears)
      Elena Bovina (was world number 14 at one point)

      These are just those that mentioned it in public, so you can't really compare with overall population stats. There are also a number of others with strange fatigue diseases, again just very recently:
      Venus Williams
      Alex Dolgopolov
      Andreas Seppi
      Jeremy Chardy

      Of course, I'm starting from the assumption that non-existent testing in tennis (with consequent nonexistent deterrent factor) means that doping will inevitably be absolutely rampant. However the mono epidemic is something recent in cycling (where there are far, far more btw), and even more recent in tennis.

      To paraphrase Sen: I don't remember players in the 90s being so unhealthy.

    18. Peter Gilson,
      Ok, fine, so there is currently no research showing a causal effect. This paper only mentions EPO is not to be administered (for medical purposes) in a few cases, one of them being flu-like symptoms in the patients.

      Looks like a long list, where did you get it? I ran a few of the names through Google search, in one case found no link to mono, in another one, that the guy thinks he might have had mono (didn't find a confirmation that he did), then decided to stop. Because we are arguing whether mono occurs more frequently with tennis players, and if you want to do an analysis, then you need to know 1) if it's really mono and 2) how many cases do we have per year. Here you include cases from 2007, 2003 etc.
      As far as the point about cases not being made public, I argue it's much more likely to happen within the general population, than with athletes. They are the ones who need to take care of their body, and you bet that if they're not feeling well for more than 10 days, they will go see a doctor. Someone with an office job might not be that concerned, some don't have good insurance etc, so it will go unreported.
      But in any case, based on what do you link mono to PEDs?

    19. My initial thought would be if excerting blood to then later re-infusing it messes with your immune system. Also tossing so many different chemicals and PED's in your body and manipulating all sorts of values seems likely to invoke some sort of reaction from your body. Not only in the favorable way of enhancing your performance, it might also go bad.

      But again, I am not an expert on that, by no means. But I'd happy to hear what a doctor would have to say about that.

    20. From the WADA:

      What are the side-effects of EPO misuse?

      While proper use of EPO has an enormous therapeutic benefit in the treatment of anaemia related to kidney disease, its misuse can lead to serious health risks for athletes who use this substance simply to gain a competitive edge. It is well known that EPO, by thickening the blood, leads to an increased risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism. The misuse of recombinant human EPO may also lead to autoimmune diseases with serious health consequences.

  5. I don't remember the details anymore, but wouldn't Djokovic's POD also qualifiy as a hypoxic chamber?

    1. If you ask me there's every bit as much chance this story was sewn by the Djokovic camp in order to throw the rampant suspicions he was using PEDs as of January 2011.

      It wasn't just this site that people were suspicious.

  6. People might be interested in the translation of the Bertagnolli affidavit regarding doping practices and the implications it might have for tennis. It also shows that a doper is always smarter and faster than the anti-dopers.

    The original can be found here

    Bertagnolli started working with Ferrari in 2006, to have his thyroid problems treated.

    * In July 2007, he went to St. Moritz to see Ferrari, who provided him with EPO, to be injected intravenously. Bertolini, Chicchi, Gasparotto and Pellizotti were with him in St. Moritz. Bertagnolli also recalls seeing Vinokourov and a group of other cyclists with Ferrari in Livigno, 2006.

    * Bertagnolli started taking EPO in 2003, as advised by doctor Manelli, but in a very amateuristic way: Ferrari showed him how to use the product properly, in order not to test positive.

    * A lot of Bertagnolli's Liquigas colleagues also went to Ferrari: he names Pellizotti, Chicchi, Gasparotto... and Kreuziger. He recalls seeing Popovych and Bileka at Ferrari's house and also mentions Morris Possoni.

    * In 2007 Bertagnolli started with blood transfusions. Ferrari told him which refrigerator to buy to store his blood in the best way (at the right temperature). He stored his blood in plastic bags. He affirms he did not transfuse blood prior to working with Ferrari, and it scared him a lot.

    * In 2008 Liquigas forbid its riders to work with Ferrari, so Bertagnolli only performed a single transfusion. In 2009 he did "some", in 2010 the transfusions were three.

    * Bertagnolli met Ferrari at the end of 2010. Ferrari told him to "throw away all evidence", because he knew of the ongoing Popovych investigation. Ferrari told him to consider using polypropylene blood bags or "flebi di vetro" (an object in glass used for transfusions).

    1. Part 2:

      August 27, 2010: in an intercepted conversation in Ferrari's mobile camper, Ferrari and Bertagnolli talk about a number of riders and doping practices:

      * Bertagnolli says "everybody is going a little slower"; Ferrari says it's because the riders don't take EPO anymore

      * Bertagnolli says "Pozzovivo hurts us on the climbs"; Ferrari says it's because he weighs about 50 kg; Bertagnolli answers he never ever saw him do things like that, "he's all muscles"

      * Ferrari says some riders are using AICAR, but the product can be detected and it has to be imported

      * Bertagnolli says the product comes from Slovenia; he names Grega Bole and Spilak as possible users, and also Chiarini

      * Ferrari thinks it's madness to use AICAR because the molecule is easily detectable

      (some less important parts and an interruption in the registration)

      * Bertagnolli thinks "for Scarponi it's important to see how the Petacchi case will pan out"

      * Ferrari responds Petacchi is in trouble although Bernucci took all of the blame

      * Bertagnolli thinks it's incredible some riders still go to Manelli (the first doping doctor Bertagnolli himself consulted): Astarloa, Bernucci, Celestino and Honchar were some of his clients, and they all tested positive

      * Ferrari asserts the Mapei Lab is a joke and the tests there don't prove anything

      * Retacrit is another detectable EPO molecule; Maccanti and Biondo have been found positive for NESP after using Retacrit and thus, Ferrari thinks it's a molecule for "suicidal fools"; he wonders why the testers don't always detect it

      Another conversation, September 28, 2010 (due to technical problems the Italian police only recorded the first 30 minutes of the conversation):

      * Ferrari shows he's better at interpreting blood data than the UCI

      * Ferrari is "obsessively monitoring" the blood data of his clients

      Some pages seem to be missing here, or I didn't read the document too well.

      December 1, 2010, another conversation:

      * Ferrari asks Bertagnolli which blood bags he used, Contador might have used bags in PVC, Bertagnolli has been using polypropylene bags which are not detectable, so he's not in trouble

      * some stuff about blood transfusions, no details

      * riders who want to dope can't go to Teide anymore because the place is "bruciata" - monitored and known by the antidoping authorities

      * Ferrari speculates someone in the lab might have spiked Contador's blood with clenbuterol

      * Bertagnolli asks if Contador might have used Actovegin, but Ferrari says no; "Actovegin is made of calf's blood, normally they don't use clen for that"

    2. Thanks for the good post Moonax.

    3. For those interested Volodymyr Bileka's confession about working with Ferrari.

    4. A more complete translation of Bertagnolli's confession with more detail about doping and doping advice.

  7. Outside of a routine cardiac exam which may or may not have happened, have their been any stories of athletes describing actual, legitimate medical services provided by del Moral? Saying he was the "best doctor in Valencia for everything" doesn't count. What specifically has he done for athletes that separates him as an elite sports medicine expert? Providing vitamins doesn't count.

    The implication that I'm assuming the ITF wants us to believe is that he could've theoretically worked with tennis players in a legitimate capacity. Can we see some evidence that he worked with anybody, anywhere in a legitimate capacity?

    1. Hard to imagine what else he could do. What exactly is the "best doctor" going to do for a professional athlete other than help them with doping or possibly get them a TUE?

    2. Er, THASP, the ITF regards Del Moral as a doctor who tennis players may continue to consult. Maybe he actually is the tooth fairy, capable of turning Errani's racquet into a magic wand. It would certainly explain her results.

    3. Del Moral has worked with both Barça and FC Valencia - both teams avoided to acknowledge his exact function and tried to downplay his involvement. He called his function "medical advisor" on the webpage of his consulting business (Performa Sportconsulting). a website, btw, which has magically disappeared ever since shit hit the fan. However, daniel Drepper took a screenshot of it and posted it along with a very informative article on doping and football on his website (

      Furthermore, the Daily Telegraph/ Matt Scott had tried to look into the football conncetions of del Moral:

      He is also on the record for telling Tyler Hamilton that compared to football players, you guys (=cyclists) aren't actually doping that much.

      So with all of that - there haven't been any decent pieces about del Moral's ties to tennis so far - apart from the excellent, brave and relentless work this blogg has been doing. (You guys rock, btw!)

      I wonder if the USADA has gotten hold of documents that could prove doping beyond that USPT spell of del Moral which ended in 2003. It seems that once that source of income dried for him, he got involved with tennis and football. I am assuming USADA must have had a search warrant and confiscated couple of hard drives and other data relevant to their case. Information maybe that could lead to more investigations, if, say, the Spanish Anti Doping Association would happen to pick it up (they won't touch it with a ten-foot pole, I entertain no illusions about that).

      Another (admittedly faint) hope would be an investigative journalist from Spain or anywhere, taking a field trip to Valencia to begin turning up stones and begin telling us about what exactly went on in that academy.

      The most unrealistic hope of all seems that the ITF starts "investigating" that matter. They'd rather help players burn evidence and obscure those ties or say it's alright to consult del Moral than be part of the solution is my impression.

  8. The role of UCI in the Armstrong et al case has not yet been addressed in Sen's updates but I guess he will get there sooner than later. Nothing in the Texan's story can be more relevant for THASP and its efforts to debunk the ITF than the now possible disclosure of cover up practices by the international governing body of cyclism. Now if anybody asks me, I would say that unmasking ITF will be a task far more herculean than whatever it may take to open up UCI. One of the reasons is, to put it in a simplistic way, that while cyclism is a sport of the lower classes, tennis is a game of the upper ones. Thinking on figures, I would guess that the worldwide market size of professional cyclism is a smaller fraction of the ca. $2.6 billion for professional tennis.

    1. The only tennis authority about whom it is definitely known did cover up a doping case was the ATP. They kept the lid on the Agassi case, for example. That is a fact. In my opinion Agassi's admission was a complete red herring, a convenient distraction which served him the dual purpose of shifting copies of his book as well as avoiding the real truth about his use of peds while playing.

      Presumably, a cover up policy was also ran by the WTA over the same period.

      I think the ITF is a different kettle of fish, composed of near-powerless tennis regulators, who prefer to look, see and speak no evil rather than catch the cheats. However, I don't believe there are cover-up practices at the ITF. That's going a step too far in my opinion. I think they have a problem with tennis doping that they don't really know how to handle properly but that doesn't make them complicit in doping.

      There is a stronger case for saying the Spanish authorities deliberately failed to investigate the Fuentes and Del Moral cases for fear of exposing their own big tennis stars as cheats. Archiving an investigation is the way they do it out there. And Errani should count her lucky stars.

    2. Let's also not forget David Ferrer also working with Del Moral, who has gotten off pretty lightly in discussions compared to Errani, I think because rather than "come from nowhere" like Errani literally has, Ferrer has come from being a #10 at best journeyman to being almost perennial Grand Slam semi-finalist. Which is just as suspicious to us, but not quite as in-your-face obvious to the mainstream media as Errani is.

      Ferrer, running down balls like Djokovic and Nadal, whipping out-stretched, cross-court retrievals that don't only achieve their apparent goal of simply getting back over the net, but actually end up as winners or forcing an error most of the time, using every bit of his super-toned arms and 30 year old strength and stamina.

      Ferrer, having his best year at 30, playing like the Energizer Bunny. This guy makes Michael Chang look like a Sloth Bunny on half-used homebrand batteries.

      Ferrer, the guy who trains in Spain, with Del Moral. Ah, it all makes sense now.

    3. @Peter Gilson,

      I guess it depends how you define "complicit" in this context. The likelihood of the ITF completely covering up positive tests is probably low. However, I think they would necessarily know if players were systematically using PEDs. Even though the tests don't come back "positive," there will be signs. If the ITF has its finger on the pulse, the officials will also be aware what the players are saying and doing.

      To the extent that they knowingly don't test in the most efficient manner (off-day tests, more OOC tests, and more blood tests), they are complicit to a degree in my opinion.

    4. Complicit means the UCI telling Contador to stay schtum about his clenbuterol positive and not withdrawing his racing licence. By comparison, the ITF may reasonably be regarded as hapless but they are not complicit in actively covering up doping cases.

    5. Yeah, but they are complicit if the only reason they are not doing more (or better) testing is because they fear that will catch someone.

  9. David Howman:

    "What seems to have happened in this particular scenario is that it went on for many years under the noses of those who were supposed to be detecting it and at times probably with their knowledge."

    I wonder if this type of thing could happen in any other sport? Of course, we have nothing to worry about in tennis, because the transparency is second-to-none.

  10. He is also on the record for telling Tyler Hamilton that compared to football players, you guys (=cyclists) aren't actually doping that much.

    haha, I could almost believe that, slightly exaggerated though it probably is. It's a pity that that German site on football doping isn't in English also, I think that there would be an absolute gold mine compared to some other sports. FIFA is not signed up to WADA last I heard. They do their own lame testing efforts that compare to tennis's efforts. There is so much innuendo and, in places like Italy, Russia, Balkans etc, organised crime connections who would be more than willing to facilitate and cover up doping and corruption, all in the name of winning, it's just not funny. Even though all one can do, helpless as one is, is laugh.

    Credit to the Daily Telegraph too for asking some questions. From memory Valencia (who won the Spanish league in '02 and '04), Sevilla, Barca, and Real Madrid, have long been rumoured in Operation Puerto. Barcelona play like the Spainish national team does. A "ground ball" game with great passing and technique for the purists, but almost too good to be true...

    1. Obviously this was meant to be a response further up to
      team_kickass's post, October 12, 2012 4:16 AM

    2. Football, through FIFA, has long signed up to the WADA code. That's not an argument though, to suggest that national organisations, or FIFA itself even, take anti-doping seriously.

      The clubs' doping laboratories (AC's MilanLab, for example) are probably more indicative of football's attitudes to doping. Zeman (Roma's coach) once famously described the Juventus players' legs as 'muscular explosions'!

    3. I don't want to come off as an apologist but here goes. I have been following FC Barcelona since the 2006 season. I watch every single game, champions league, etc. To suggest doping has made them "too good to be true," is laughable. I will admit that blood doping, EPO, testosterone and other PED's are most likely a part of their training regime. After all, recovery is pretty important for football teams since they sometimes play 2 games in a span of a week (Champions League and or Domestic Cup). Doping however, is probably done by every team anyway.

      Barcelona has a system of play that I would say is the key to their success. They control the midfield, quick successive passes, press quickly to retrieve the ball, etc. As an institution, they employ this style of play from the 8 year olds to the senior squad. Hence their ex trainer Pep Guardiola was able to transition from the "second" squad to the "first" squad easily, and now, the assistant is heading the first team.

      What am I concluding? That FC Barcelona have a system of play that is really the key to their success. If their doping "program" was so great, they wouldn't have a fairly high turnover of ex-players (players which they bought not groomed in their junior academy) They failed to adapt to the system because they did not grow up in the junior academy playing said system. Messi, Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Pique, Busquets, Alba, Pedro, the list goes on and on, they all grew up playing with each other.

      Barcelona play like the spanish team because Barcelona is pretty much the spanish team (Real Madrid also make a majority of the squad).

      I would definitely like to see what Operacion Puerto says in regards to football and tennis. The fallout would be interesting.

    4. Barcelona FC is team filled with above average skillful players, no doubt about that. What impresses me the most about their "system" however, is their impressive and relentless pressing, very reminiscing of the Juventus team of the 90's which was heavily suspected of doping in a large scale.
      Having said that, read my lips: "There is no doping in Football, no doping in tennis, no doping in Rugby". Read my lips..

    5. From what I understand, Barcelona press and only press for something like 6 seconds, so very efficient. In fact, on average their opponents run a lot more distance. Take a look at the video, its comical how good they are sometimes.

      I am unfamiliar with the Juventus team of the 90's but will look into it.

    6. Carlos, without the doping, all these teams would be forced to play completely differently, this is the most important for me, and there is nothing to admire today if you know that these players are made superhuman thanks to a well organized doping program. Even the skills are acquired in par thanks to doping, don't forget that.

    7. Carlos, the quintessential feature in modern football is the quick shift from defense to offense and vice versa - also once in possession, players need to outsprint the defense - any second gained is clearly an advantage - think of it like Bolt outrunning his opponents - whoever is ahead can penetrate the defense successfully and possibly score. The way Messi speeds up is magnificent and clearly a site to behold - yet, anytime I watch Barça play, I also remind myself of the realistic scenario that their superstrength, especially with the English weeks they are playing, might also rely on doping.

      It is quite telling how often you used the adjective "quick" - this is exactly where doping could be of help - whether in recovery or in muscle build-up.

      Not to come off as too picky here, but beloved Pep Guardialo was once caught doping.
      And to be fair, I have no absolute proof concerning my hypothesis with Barça and Valencia and readily admit that other teams might also likely to use doping.

      In general, what I find interesting - and what this blog does so exceptionally well, is making the networks and links visible and spell out certain conncetions, like del Moral to Valencia or Barça. I think this visibility is needed and the conclusions one can draw from it. They are still hypothesis - but now that they are on the record and more facts are being added it becomes graspable and it gets garder to deny those conncetions. This is why it is important to have such a blog and keep track of all those details and feed it with more facts.

      @JMF I am not sure they'd be forced to play a completely different football - but I would think it would be considerably slower and less forceful during the last quarter of the game and we'd also see more players out to injuries and less steady teams in general (something which Barça heavily relies on).

      @Mystery - well, indeed to bad that site is not available in English - it does rather nicely keep track of all known doping offense and provides decent background by interviewing experts and also footballers themselves. For a start, you might want to read this rather telling article on the current guru of German sports medicine - Dr. Müller Wohlfart. He is on the record for treating the likes of Bolt and many other big shots in international sports. I think this pretty much shatters any hope that football knows no doping:

  11. Page 136, Footnote 771: 'Johan Bruyneel told Floyd Landis that testosterone patches could “be worn two out of three days after hard training for eight to ten hours at night, which would be relatively free of risk of detection.


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