Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"It's a pretty intense system"

The hilarity continues...

Serena Williams: "Stringent enough is putting it mildly. People show up at my house at five in the morning trying to test me. You never know when they come. Yeah, I get tested a lot. I don't know about the other players, but for me it's a pretty intense system, and I know a lot of the players feel the same way."

Testing has been anything but "intense" for Serena. She was not tested out-of-competition by the ITF or the USADA in either 2010 and 2011. The ITF tested her between 1-3 times in-competition in 2011 and 7+ times in-competition in 2010.

Also, I'd note that Serena says people are "trying to test" her. How often do they succeed?

28 comments:

  1. I play 4.5 tournaments, and I was tested as much as Serena OOC in 2010 and 2011. Enough said.

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    1. The testers come at 5 in the morning for Serena? If they arrive at that time then that is the time she must have indicated she is available. Or like everything else that woman says, it's a load of bullshit.

      (I suppose they have to come at 5am, because by 6am she is in the panic room, where as we know they have no chance of reaching her.)

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    2. "Or like everything else that woman says, it's a load of bullshit."

      Must admit, this is unforunately the case. Her quotes above are factually incorrect. We *know* that. It makes you wonder, if we weren't already, how many other fanciful stories she has come up with over the years (perhaps about restaurants or feet).

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    3. Richard: I'm not certain that they have ever come before 6:00AM.

      11.3.2 The Whereabouts Filing must also include, for each day during the
      following quarter, one specific 60-minute time slot between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. each
      day where the Athlete will be available and accessible for Testing at a specific
      location.

      from: ITF TADP 2012

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    4. Of course they don't come before 6am. Like everything Serena claims about testing, it can be filed under "I cut my foot in a restaurant."

      I also like it when she says they "try" to test it. So they don't succeed? I have this image of a "big strong black woman" (where are you, Ed?) wrestling the sample bag away from the tester - or cowering on the floor in the panic room, a la Tyler Hamilton. Headline - "Serena Takes a Dive - Literally."

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    5. As long as the testers don't run away crying for being bullied by Serena, I assume that scene never happened.
      Serena never claimed to be a politician so even though we are in elections time, take it easy on her.

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    6. I guess the testers are still "trying" to test Serena. Good luck to them.

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    7. They need to hire another strong black woman, stronger than Serena, maybe that will help.

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  2. I would love it if some reporter went up to these players and gave them the stats on how many times they were REALLY tested by ITF and their respective country's doping agencies.

    I would love to hear the BS explanations and the pretzel-like explanations as they try to describe the discrepancy.

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    1. Hrrrm, yeah.

      I put the stats to Cahill once, and his response seemed genuine surprise.

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    2. See, they're all reciting from some pre-approved script. They sound like politicians who have their talking points and fumble and stumble when someone comes back at them with verified facts that contradict what they've been saying.

      When you give them the true stats they are genuinely shocked - well, for a while, then they go back to repeating the "stringently tested" BS again - hoping that the next person fails to correct them.

      Didn't THASP or Sen tweet Brad Gilbert about Serena not being tested OOC since early-2009 (this is before her OOC test this past May)and he was stumped for a comeback and claimed he didn't know that? Of course he - and the others- went back to repeating the "They're tested 20-30-40! times a year" crap?

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  3. It seems from following this blog, there are 3 ways to show tennis is not clean and testing does not seem to be one of them b/c of who is doing the testing and the sophisticated ways to mask doping. First, journalist must ask the tough questions when suspicious activities/connections arise. Second, clean players or even dirty players need to speak up against top players who are doping b/c they obviously have inside info. but this is probably not likely to happen. Third, if something health wise happens to a top player on court associated with doping which cannot be covered up.
    From Serena on, it seems that the players have banded together to claim tennis is clean, especially since lance Armstrong has been exposed as a cheat. They may be scared now, but trying not to show it by adamantly voicing how clean tennis is.

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    1. Your second suggestion, that of players speaking up is the least likeliest of the three to happen. Omerta is alive and well in tennis and every bit as strong as in cycling. Look at the player reaction to Odesnik for example after he cooperated with the anti-doping authorities. He was ostracised by all and sundry not least by his own colleagues in the US. Murray spoke caustically about players 'snitching' on each other. Professional players may harbour strong suspicions about other players but they are unlikely to report those concerns. I imagine the doping regime of any wealthy player would also be a very closely guarded affair with little or no information creeping out. There may be some collusion between trainers (as there was in track & field) but that's just speculation.

      I think it's very difficult at present to estimate or somehow measure the extent of tennis doping but the lesson from pro-cycling is that the problem shouldn't be under-estimated. I think there is a growing perception that the ITF is simply not going about the issue in a seriously committed way. The testing methodology, statistics and pitifully underfunded budget make that plain.

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  4. It doesn't hurt, from a journalist's perspective, to dig up a few widely available statistics on anti-doping testing in tennis to counterbalance the claims of Sharpo and Venus. Maybe, we expect too much from journalists these days..

    I am quite pessimistic when it comes to doping practices in tennis being one day exposed:

    Firstly, bike riders got exposed (with the Festina case) only because they travel and are organized as a team with support staff and doctors coming along, and because those doctors were carrying the PEDs in their luggage and got caught by the police not by anti-doping agencies efforts. Tennis players however are much smaller "enterprises" and can easily have their own "motoman" taking care of the dirty job of carrying the drugs for them.

    Secondly: in light of the Armstrong report by USADA, riders can take EPO micro doses or receive blood-transfusion during the competition, up to the night before, and still be "clean" in the morning in the eyes of the testers. That gives credence to the rumors about tennis players taking something causing a "boost" during their toilet beaks and also more broadly it tells us that tennis players can easily pass the in-competition and out-of-competition tests in my view.

    In conclusion, the only way for tennis to be exposed in my view, is through warrant-backed perquisitions being done at the home or office of doctors known to be involved with doping and resulting in a tennis athlete being exposed as one of the customer. A little bit like operacion Puerto, but without a Spanish judge killing the judicial procedure to cover up the athletes that were Spanish and not bike riders (rumors saying that tennis players and footballers amongst others were part of the doping programs).

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  5. "Also, I'd note that Serena says people are "trying to test" her. How often do they succeed? "
    For a stringent system that abolishes doping testing attempts or threats are completely sufficient. The horrendous possibility of being tested deeply moves any athlete in a way that they're incapable of a reasonable observation concerning the real risk of being caught.

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  6. The frustrating thing is that not one single member of the media ever calls her on her lies and bullshit.

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    1. I co-sign this. That's also the thing that beats me - how come these journalists run into these interview/presser situations with basically ZERO facts ready to refute their obvious sermons? I would not dare to ask such an uninformed question ever, I'd be embarrassed!

      It seems as if that particular question for Serena was just raised to "appear" critical and give players room to repeat their rehearsed lines to us.

      The problem of doping in tennis, or any other sport for that matter, lies not only with the athletes.

      It affects not only tennis pro's, their staff or the inefficient ITF: it is to some extent also a problem of lazy journalism.

      I think we have all seen enough examples of that. The media is to a large extent complicit in keeping the bright façade intact with their uninspired and equally uncritical journalism.

      I am not saying fun pieces are bad per se. Hell no! But, for a change, know your facts and do a more pushy interview every now and then especially when you suspect something or players serve you bullshit.
      I mean that del Moral link is the closest tennis ever got to a doping conncetion lately!

      Make use of that - ask questions!

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  7. The belief is that Rafa took something to increase his serve in the 2010 US open rather than a grip change. Can anyone explain why he has not repeated this for future grand slams, assuming he did take something.

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    1. According to Nadal, he didn't like serving bigger because 'the ball would come back too quickly and he wouldn't be able to get a good position in the rally for his style of play' or words to that effect. I thought his reason was going to be the added strain on his shoulder (notice he pulled out of Paris Bercy 2010 - not long after the US Open - with that injury claim), which would have been far more believable.

      Anyone notice he was also hitting up to around 130mph at Wimbledon this year against Rosol?

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    2. As you can see, I cannot directly answer your question :S It is very perplexing why he didn't opt to do it again. Maybe it involved pushing some timing windows to very close limits?

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    3. Sorry, but I can't edit posts - I do wonder if he repeated what he did at the US Open at Wimbledon this year, and if some pushing of luck in terms of timing windows has resulted in something relating to his prolonged absence.

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    4. I think Nadal has mentioned that he can easily increase his serve, he just feels his other percentages would decrease (first serve for example). To me it sounds he lacks confidence in his serve. This to me makes sense.

      During practice, my serve is much faster, during matches it decreases. Again, all to increase my first serve percentage.

      What is odd is for team Nadal to say it was related to "grip change"

      Being the skeptics that we are in this blog, I don't think anyone will believe the above.

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    5. Yes, the grip change idea seems rather farfetched.

      It's worth remembering, though, that with his pacier serving, Nadal got to the FINAL without being broken once, and only lost one set en route to his first ever US Open trophy. Why would you ever lose confidence so quickly in something so effective? In all of 2011 he didn't even try hitting through while losing 7 consecutive finals against Djokovic. This seems truly bizarre.

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  8. I know it's pretty old but found this article that was written before the Wimbledon Final this year.

    http://www.sueddeutsche.de/sport/serena-williams-im-wimbledon-endspiel-problemlos-ins-finale-gedonnert-1.1405086-2

    It's from a German Newspaper and from my broken German it seems to question how Serena Williams hit 24 aces in the semi-final regularly at 200k, the panic room incident, how she wasn't tested once in 2010 or 2011 Out of competition, how ITF won't talk about this. It also suggests how even though in Wimbledon noone would like to ask doping related questions, it would be pointless for anyone to ask anything doping related to her because "there are some questions, that SHE won't even answer"
    It's kind of encouraging that a German newspaper picked up and wrote on these facts, albeit a small article. It sounds like they are waiting for someone else to ask the important questions to these suspect players, but I wonder why they wouldn't want to try themselves, seems like they have the facts to back it up anyway!

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    1. I especially like how the article stresses a general dilemma in tennis journalism by mentioning that deplorable custom of most tennis writers to throw a number of non-tennis related questions at Serena to get a sassy/fun quote from her rather than pose some of the more pressing questions that her performance certainly raises.

      Neudecker pretty much nails it there. As long as the fun-headline wins over critical journalism, for the former is what guarantees more clicks/attention they are happy to dig no further and simply hail her "strong" performance.

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  9. Serena is training in Mauritius:

    http://adirondacktennis.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/mauritius-and-tennis/

    "...So why do I bring Mauritius back up now? Because Mauritius is the where Serena and her trainer Patrick Mouratoglou are heading according to an interview she had recently with Federico Coppini on the “Tennis World” Blog (Read the whole interview – HERE). Excerpt: Q. So Patrick says you’re going to be training in Mauritius.
    SERENA WILLIAMS: He talks a lot.

    Q. Yeah, he does. That’s a change for you. No L.A., no Florida. He didn’t talk that much.
    SERENA WILLIAMS: Okay.

    Q. But he said you were training in Mauritius. For you to put yourself out there, staying in Paris, going to Mauritius, not doing the normal things, is it something you’re trying to do in your life to change things up and keep it fresh?
    SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I mean, that’s where everyone at his academy trains at the end of the year. So when we first started working out, that’s all I wanted to do was go Mauritius, because I saw the pictures and it was so pretty. All I could think about – and I’m not kidding – in Stanford I went swimsuit shopping.
    So six months in advance I have all my swimsuits and bikinis. Everyone is going to be training two and three times. I told Patrick, Now, look. I train in the morning and I’m at the beach in the afternoon. We have to have some sort of understanding here.
    So I’m excited about that. It’ll be like a mini vacation for me. I feel like I’ll working hard and be laying out..."

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    1. Yes, saw that interview. Dubai, Kenya, Mauritius... Tennis players seem to be developing an affinity for exotic locations for training.

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    2. What a story she came up with, she's enjoying that.

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