Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jon Wertheim (Update #1)

Jon Wertheim tackles doping and tennis in his latest column. A few excerpts from his list of 10 thoughts:
1) The more athletes in other sports keep getting caught, and the more I learn about tennis' paucity of out-of-competition tests, the more cynical I get...
3) Tennis clearly needs to increase funding to its anti-doping program...
4) If I'm a tennis player, I now avoid the hypoxic chambers at all costs...
5) That said, parallels between tennis and cycling quickly fall apart. Reading the Armstrong report, the key was the systematic doping within a team and the code of Omerta. Tennis doesn't do Omerta. It's an individual sport. Coaches and trainers bounce among players...
8) [...] The Wayne Odesnik situation might be the single strangest set of circumstances and aftermath I have yet to come across. You're commuting a sentence for "cooperation" -- problematic in itself -- and then Odesnik adamantly denies cooperating? Something just doesn't add up...
A few things. On (5), I'd note that cyclists bounce around teams, so do doctors and trainers (this is clear in Tyler Hamilton's book) and Omerta functioned. So, I disagree with Wertheim's view that "Tennis doesn't do Omerta." And let's not forget that track is made up of individuals, and Omerta was established there for well over a decade until the Ben Johnson scandal, although it appears to have been re-established when the dust settled.

Strangely, Wertheim make no mention of Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral in his column.

Also, I look forward to Wertheim investigating the Odesnik deal...

Last, these comments almost (and I stress almost) represent a 180 degree turn by Wertheim on doping in tennis. This is the same man who wrote the following in his book Strokes Of Genius:
"...tennis has one of the most rigorous and systematic anti-doping policies in all of sports." (p161)
"When you declare a contemporary athlete clean, you do so at your own peril. But it’s not just unlikely that a top tennis player’s success or muscles or stamina is the product of anything other than genetics and industriousness. It’s damn near impossible." (pp162-3)
What will happen next? Let's hope this signals a real change in how tennis journalists approach doping. Only time will tell.

In other new, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral says "During my years as doctor for US Postal, I never witnessed organised doping in the team nor incited it personally...As a doctor, my actions were to maintain the health of cyclists and oversee their physical performance."

Update #1:

If you're up for some laughs check out the comments on this article.

And here's an article on doping in tennis from Unibet: "Blissful Thinking: Tennis Could Be Next To Lose Credibility Due To Drug Cheats"

Last, an interview with Hajo Seppelt about doping in Kenya.

50 comments:

  1. I still don't feel increasing funding to tennis anti doping program is going to solve the doping issue unless the people/organizations doing the testing are objective and do not have a vested interest in doping being hidden (namely it seems like a monetary interest). For number four, it seems Jon is warning tennis players to stay away from hypoxic chambers to avoid investigation into it.
    And for sure number five is not that true b/c tennis players also have a team behind them, medical doctors, psychiatrists, physio, trainers, nutritionists, coaches, teammates from their respective countries, etc. Plus, all these guys have a financial interest in shutting up about doping even if they move from one player to the other.

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  2. Hahahaha.

    Tennis is an equally closed system as cycling is and the coaches are being traded among the same incestuous set of people unless someone drops out or younger player's move up whose coaches are very likely ex-pros.
    I think especially the many tennis academies out there, Bollie et al. are doing the grooming and initiate hopeful player's into the culture of illegal drugs. I am sure there is loads of pressure to make it and to distinguish themselves from the many other talents out there.

    Has he ever bothered to talk to young players about that, I wonder?

    As a side note, IMG as a major player in creating new stars needs to be regarded with some suspicion - they basiclaly consider young players as a legitimate form of human investment and I am sure they can exert pressure on them to conform to illegal practices, just like in pro-cycling a team chef would.

    Also, Wertheim did not get the memo how complicit UCI in all of this was, or sponsors like NIKE (consider their alleged $ 500,000 donation to UCI). He nicely avoids that (crucial) bit of the scandal...Honi soit qui mal y pense...

    Wertheim started out well in this column to then once again serve us delusional bulllcrap again, sadly.

    At least we know he objects to tents - but only cause they raise suspicion, methinks, he does not rule them out per se.

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    1. Well said. Could you send this to Wertheim?

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    2. And uncle Toni won't blow his whistle on Rafa :-)

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  3. Despite what I just wrote above, it is a step forward in that journalists are now beginning to ask questions since lance Armstrong has been exposed as a cheat. It was nice to see the other day on Daybreak, the reporters were talking about LA being dropped by so many sponsors, specifically Nike, and then they said they would love to get a medical doctor on their program to discuss what specific drugs enhance performance and how do these drugs physiologically work to give athletes an advantage in their respective sport. I was like yay!!

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  4. From the linked article on del Moral:

    "The Spanish anti-doping agency on October 12 raised the possibility of court action against Garcia Del Moral, another Spanish doctor and a former trainer over claims that illegal doping activities took place in the country."

    Well now, here is hope!

    Not.

    How come I have bloody little trust in SPANISH anti-doping agencies...?

    And while you are at it, Spain, why not dig out Fuentes infamous list and get the whole job done?

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  5. A little off-topic:
    Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish defending cycling:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/20073400
    Wiggins: "Us riders here now - and I think I speak for all of us - we're the ones picking the pieces up and having to convince people the sport has changed."...
    Despite evidence of widespread systematic doping in the past, Cavendish maintains that cycling only appears to have more dopers because the testing is much more stringent than in other sports and insisted there are cheats in "every walk of life".
    He told BBC Sport's Matt Slater: "There are cheats in entertainment, journalists cheat, every single sport has cheats.
    "If you put the effort into catching them and you have a structure that does things properly, you're going to catch a cheat.
    "It doesn't happen in other sports, not because they are clean, but because it's not got the structure cycling has. In my eyes, cycling is the cleanest sport."

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    1. He must have used eye bleach...


      Cycling is fighting for survival these days, to stay relevant and portray their sport as a new beginning, clean riders yada yada.

      Still, if cycling really wants a complete fresh start it better get rid off all the cheats in their own federation first.

      Today I read UCI/TDF organizer's allowed Contador, convicted doper and apologist of Pharmstrong, to be present at the presentation of the TDF 2013 route. One word: wrong!

      Also, correct me if I am wrong, the BBC did a rather poor job covering Armstrong to begin with. To allow Wiggins and Cavendish express such views without any further comment is indicative of their desperate attempts to protect their own.

      I hope the BBC also ran a piece on Leinders doping past with Rabobank and commented on the audacity of Team SKY to have hired him in the first place...

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    2. I see Wiggins is still avoiding the actual issue. Did you dope this year Bradley? Any answer similar to he gave earlier this year, something along the lines of "think what I've got to lose..." would eerily remind me of Lance Armstrong's answer. (Watch the last minute of that Australian documentary.)

      Or maybe Wiggins would protesteth too much, as he did during this year's Tour, calling people "c**ts" and using 4 letter words any early teenage boy would probably be proud of, just because fans are talking out in the open about doping. (Didn't Bradley used to say that talking about doping is what we SHOULD do? Now he loses his head if anyone does.)

      Should the media ask Wiggins about doping Doctor Leinders treating him in team Sky? Or maybe Wiggins would just refuse to talk about doping doctor Leinders who had been quietly hired by the team. Didn't Team Sky feign shock when the media pointed out his doping past (present?)? Didn't the British Sky team promise an investigation into him? What are the results of this investigation? Was it ever started?

      Ask THESE sorts of questions, BBC.

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    3. I am as suspicious as anyone when it comes to the Team Sky's destruction of any form of competition at the last TdF under the paradigm that "when its too good to be true, it's too good to be true" (even though the circumstances were a bit unusual with Contador and Schleck missing, and Cancellara falling early in the event and not being a force in the time trials).

      Having said that what Cavendish said today makes total sense to me. Cycling is the only sport where top athletes and big event winners are regularly exposed as cheats. Now, the general public perception of it all is that cycling is rotten to the bone and everybody dopes. Fair enough me says. But other sports have managed to cover up the scandals efficiently (think tennis or football with the Dr Fuentes saga, or the Juventus saga of the 90s) and convey an image of being cleaner than cycling.

      The fact that Cavendish is a bit upset by this hypocrisy is very understandable, and his statement about cycling being the cleanest sport, since it's the only one that is not in denial, is probably not far from the truth in my view.

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  6. I also thought it was strange that Wertheim wouldn't mention Del Moral. Very strange, I wonder why not?

    And his comment on the hypoxic chamber may well be taken as a warning that anyone using them (i.e. Djokovic), because they are using them, now only looks guilty!!

    But his point #6 I think it was, regarding what players have to lose by doping (sponsorship, prize money), and the fact they have a lot to lose means they probably aren't doping, is head-in-the-sand ridiculous stuff. You could say that about ANY sport. heck Lance Armstrong even said it! Wiggins said it! It doesn't for a second mean doping is unlikely to exist because players have a lot to lose! Just think of what they have to GAIN.

    Very Naive Jon. The words of someone who is forced to finally acknowledge doping is possible, but still trying to kid themselves that in tennis's case it probably isn't happening after all...

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    1. I completely agree about point #6. He offered one half of the equation without talking about the other half. If they are forced to dope to stay at the top of the game, then they wouldn't have all the endorsements if they weren't doping (because they wouldn't be doing the winning that leads to the endorsements).

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    2. Agree.

      The fact is that tennis (and sports) offer extremely high incomes for those at the top. And most athletes have few options outside of their sport to earn a very high income. Therefore, the real cost of getting caught doping and banned is quite low. After all, the penalty is really just having to fall back on your 2nd best alternative job (e.g., tennis instructor). However, if you dope and win and don't get caught immediately (or ever), the rewards from even a single good year are huge. And, as Contador shows, even if you test positive and get banned, it may have no impact on your popularity.

      So, given that the expected value of doping exceeds an athlete's alternative choices (e.g., not doping and losing all the time, or choosing a new line of work), the decision to dope is an economically rational choice.

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    3. Just to expand a little. Wertheim appeared to be arguing the idea that top players shouldn't dope, based on the assumption that "they are already at the top without doping, so why would they suddenly dope and risk everything such as lucrative sponsorship?"

      Which is the most ridiculous assumption I can think of. For several reasons.

      1- What if they only get to the top by doping in the first place?

      2- what if they are a journeyman with mid-level sponsorship, and decide that with limited time left in a career, doping makes far more prize money and sponsorship dollars than not doping?

      3- Most players at that level are seriously intense and competitive personalities, who are more inclined to do anything to get to the top in the first place. It's human nature for many to take a short cut on offer.

      4- Learn your lesson from other sports, Mr Wertheim! You are basically repeating what Lance Armstrong used to say (until very very recently) in order to "prove" that he'd have to be mad to be doping. Namely that he had too much to lose. (Where else have we heard this line of reasoning, Mr Wiggins?) That's the whole point here - that this is a non-point to begin with! But keep giving yourself the warm fuzzies by convincing yourself that tennis players would have to be mad to dope...

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    4. Yes, he doesn't seem to consider that it could be that only reason (and way) some reach the top is because they doped to get there.

      Overall, I think the main point is that the history of sports shows the "disincentive" argument to be incorrect. McGwire, Bonds, Marion Jones, Armstrong, the rest of the USPS postal team, Ben Johnson...We are seeing many "top" athletes doping. However, if you believe Wertheim's disincentive argument then the only reason that "top" athletes are doping is because they are making irrational economic choices. Can that many athletes be making irrational choices? That doesn't seem correct.

      This leaves an alternative view: the incentive structure favors doping because the rewards are high and the probability of detection is low, creating a high expected payoff from doping. If you subscribe to this view then doping is rational and it is not surprising that many athletes (including top athletes) dope.

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    5. One of the highest risk areas in sport for doping is the athlete who has made the top but his body is beginning to fade with age and the younger guys are catching up. The motivation is often not about the money but about the adulation.

      The use of PED's by such athletes is designed to extend careers and keep at the top. This was very common in baseball for example and is a known risk factor for PED use in sport.

      Another high risk time for use of PED's is for good fringe athletes looking to breakthrough into the top echelons. I have seen top 500 ranked tennis players taking PED's simply to break into the top 300.

      I dont agree with much of what Jon says about the manner that PED's could be used by tennis players nor what the motivations would be for a tennis player to use a PED.

      The facts as I have seen them firsthand don't support anything special as to why tennis players would or would not use PED's.

      Look basically motivation to use PED's is an entirely personal thing. It can't be categorised across hundreds or thousands of athletes in the same sport. If you are an athlete looking for a leg up over their peers then you can rationalise the thought of doping to do it and some of those athletes (not all but some) rationalising that thought will go ahead and do it.

      In my view tennis is a sport where PED's will greatly help a player at any level have a clear advantage over their peers at that level who don't use PED's. PED's will also extend by as much as several years the career of a player carrying injuries versus his peers not using PED's to rejuvenate from injury.

      That is why PED's are banned. As they give one athlete a big advantage over their clean peers.

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    6. Across hundreds and thousands of cases, there must be underlying patterns that explain the motivation to dope. It all comes down to the fame and money! Moreover, of the cases of which you claim firsthand experience, how can you discern whether an athlete is being truthful or not? Because in virtually all cases the evidence is overwhelming that athletes continue to cheat and lie in order to explain away a positive test and remain in denial thereafter. Armstrong is the ultimate manifestation of that. You don't need an USADA report to confirm that either. There is more than sufficient evidence within the published ITF case files to indicate that the evidence of dopers is always questionable.

      It's good to see the tennis press starting at last to question the ITF's lack of credibility on doping.

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    7. The common denominator is that athletes take PED's to gain an unfair advantage over their peers.

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    8. @ Richard Ings

      Thanks for your input, I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head there as to why athletes would go down that doping road.

      With what you nicely outlined above, why would the ITF not make use of that knowledge and set up a target testing program that would focus specifically on those cases, older players trying to cut ahead on recovery time extend careers or young one's on a breakthrough mission?

      Add to that any player that has suspicious performance peaks or incredible endurance or links to known doping propagandists such a del Moral and boom! there you have a rough scheme for what you should be going for.

      Test more OOC and test smart instead of wasting money on loser-based testing, for that clearly leaves you to be the loser in this race. Close the untested windows during Slam's or in tournies in general. Have a clear stance on hypoxic chambers and their cousins, the egg's and whatnot's. Tell people why one needs to be against those devices and promote an aggressive policy to actually come remotely close to look scary.

      Additionally, testing smart to me would mean (just to pick a contemporary example that suggests itself) test Sharapova after last nite's win at 5am in the morning - before the PED's clear out of her system! It's uncomfortable, alright, yet it is a legitimate part of a business she is making money off and that is battling for integrity (more or less, these days).

      I believe if an agency would show it is aware of those gaps and loopholes rather then enabling them in the first place and would act tough instead of acting protective as we have seen by providing lame reductions and excuses, then player's could not simply lobby against these newer, impredictable tougher measures - especially in the light of the recent USADA's report. That could function as a point in reference, as ammunition so to speak, to explain why they resort to such drastic measures.

      Also, the media, by now, should have become carefuller to hopefully not portray any staged uproars by player union's against tougher anti-doping measure in a positive light by giving them a platform without calling them out on their hypocrisy and self-vicitmization.

      Anyway, these are just some ideas I am tossing out and I am sure we are beating the same bush here, still, I am rather annoyed at the ITF's level of denial and lack of common sense at this point.

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    9. You've provided new insight, Mr Ings. I always thought older players ascribed their late-career Indian summers to running up magic mountains. But now we know they might be doping up to the Gills.

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    10. Actually there have been quite a few posts or comments about Ferrer lately.

      Other than that, I disagree that the main beneficiary of doping are players in the sunset of their careers. Of course, I understand what's mentioned and most of it makes sense. But the biggest doping scandals in sports so far were not about people past their prime. Every age group is affected.

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    11. I was actually pointing a finger toward a point some six thousand miles due west of David Ferrer but I guess Ferrer is as good an example as any, plus of course he has that definite connection with a known doping doctor.

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    12. I would agree with JMF. Given that high school and varsity athletes are doping, it's safe to assume that many athletes are taking before they even reach the pro level.

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    13. I think the case of an aging athlete doping to stay competitive may have been in theory a suspect category. And perhaps still is, but clearly all categories are suspect, in all sports, doping is rampant.

      If there still are clean players in the top 50, why don't 10 of them get together and speak out. That would be better than a single individual. They could ask for tougher testing, and offer themselves as a volunteers to be tested at any time. Of course, for a limited time period, so as not to be bothered more than the others for a long time. They could also release information about their teams - who is doing what.
      Soon, some more would join them.
      Of course, they could first threaten to do that within the ITF, without publicity, and the ITF would then be forced to start a fight against doping.

      I don't know, just a thought.

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  7. I'm glad Wertheim took on some of these issues. It's obviously important for journalists to take these issues on, and he's an important voice in that community.

    Having said that, to say that this is a drastic change in his approach to the issue is a massive understatement. I wonder what his motivation is here. This is not to be critical; rather just curious. He talks about the importance of journalistic integrity and the importance of investigative journalism in this realm, but none of his 10 points directly hit on investigative journalism. They are mere observations of what he sees around him. Much of it is based on issues that were apparent before the USADA reasoned decision. I think anybody who was paying attention knew that we need more OOC testing and the amount of funding in the program was readily available.

    Since he has shown a new-found interest in the subject, will Jon investigate the connection of del Moral to various tennis players? Will he investigate the Odesnik situation which seems unusual to him? If not, how are his observations of any value? He implies that he would be willing to investigate if he "catch[es] wind" of anything meaningful. I'd say he's caught wind of the unresolved issues in the Odesnik case.

    He has legal training, so I'll break it down for him. A reduction in sentence due to substantial assistance requires one of three things to be true. The player has to provide information related to (1) doping violations of other players/individuals, (2) other breaches of conduct of other players/individuals, or (3) criminal violations of other players/individuals. Which of the three does the information that Odesnik provided fall under? Go investigate. I'm sure Stuart Miller would be glad to explain it to you, Jon.

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    1. The WADA Code only allows a reduction in doping sanction for information leading to a doping offence being found against another athlete or athlete support person.

      It must be substantial assistance related to discovery of a doping offence to get a sentence reduction. Exactly as what happened with the cyclists who went witness against LA.

      Not a corruption offence or other breach of rules. But a doping offence.

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    3. 10.5.3 specifically delineates three separate ways to get a "substantial assistance" reduction. One is to assist an ADO in another doping case. One is helping another disciplinary body to uncover breaches of OTHER professional codes of conduct. The third is helping a criminal body discover a criminal violation. Those three distinctions are there as clear as day. There was even discussion at the time that Odesnik may have provided information related to match-fixing.

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    4. Just because the LA example you gave falls under #1, doesn't mean that #2 and #3 couldn't apply in other situations.

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    5. The rule is all about anti-doping violations. It is about an athlete or athlete support person assisting an ADO (like the ITF), "criminal authority" (say Customs or police) or a "professional disciplinary body" (say a Medical Registration Board) which results in the ADO finding a doping offence OR the criminal authority or professional disciplinary body discovering or establishing a criminal offence or other breach of "professional rules" by another person.

      I have applied these rules before doping panels. They are designed to incentivise athletes and support persons to provide information on doping whether they help sports ban players or help professional boards and the like ban doctors.

      These rules are not designed to reward a player with a reduced doping ban for robbing in a match fixer. At least that is my view and how I have applied these very same rules before tribunals.

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    6. Did Sara Errani herself not confirm that the ITF had imposed no bar on her continuing to consult Dr Del Moral, had she so wished? Where then is the ban, and does the ITF in fact have any powers to exercise such sanctions?

      The rules on inter-organisational cooperation to combat sport doping have largely yet to be written.

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    7. Richard Ings - you are always telling us how the wonderful rules and procedures won't allow any corruption to take place with regard to anti-doping. I'd like your thoughts on the case of XZTT vs Anti-Doping Rule violation tribunal?

      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2012/10/25/why-cyclings-anti-doping-system-is-broken-xztt-v-anti-doping-rule-violation-tribunal/

      If the rules are so brilliant how come they keep on being ignored by the relevant authorities?

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    8. The AAT is the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal. It is a body of government established to allow people subject to government agency decision to appeal those decisions. The first hearing is before the AAT and any appeal is before the Federal Court.

      As a government agency ASADA is bound by the AAT. It means that anti-doping matters have an extra step of judicial scrutiny before they can even get to CAS.

      The AAT in my experience struggles with the WADA Code as it is an international instrument. In my time at ASADA the AAT completely dismissed a case we brought against an athlete for a clear positive. We appealed to the Federal Court and the case was overturned and ruled in favour of ASADA.

      But I digress. I read this decision by the AAT and it is very interesting reading indeed.

      The outcome was that the AAT upheld the decision of ADRVP to place the matter on the Register of Findings for "presence" but overturned the decision by the ADRVP to place a second decision on the register for "use". So this case will go forward as a doping offence only for "presence" and not the for dual findings of "presence" and "use".

      This is a very technical decision by the AAT. Standard practice for ASADA would be to apply "presence" and "use" when a sample is positive. They do this for the fact that for a substance to be "present" in the sample the athlete must have "used" it!

      But with cocaine and other substances actually allowed OOC you have tone careful. The AAT quoite rightly suggested that the level of cocaine in the sample suggested that the "use" may have occurred before the competition and that OOC "use" of cocaine is not banned under the WADA Code.

      So the AAT erred on the side of the athlete that they did not commit an offence for "use" as actual "use" likely took place before the competition and it stayed in their body through to the banned in competition period. But the athlete did commit an offence for presence as cocaine was clearly in the sample.

      The AAT decision raises some issues with both UCI's timeline and ASADA's timeline. B samples should be analysed without delay once the A sample is complete and in this case the delay was considerable. But also in this case it involved an Australian cyclist, competing in China, a Chinese lab sending results to a Swiss organisation who communicated with an Australian cyclist who referred the matter to an Australian national federation who had to pass it on to a government agency in ASADA. While the timeline should have and could have been faster, it does not fatally damage the case against the athlete.

      What is a worry is the time UCI took to get their paperwork together. But apart from that this is a pretty standard case and the AAT upheld the finding of "presence" that the ADO's brought forward against the cyclist.

      Now the matter will go to CAS who will determine sanction.

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    9. Don't you think that the UCI's handling on the case and notifying the rider etc leaves a lot to be desired. The timeline presented shows months passing between the rider being tested and being notified.

      It provides plenty of loopholes to be exploited by dopers and reflects the poor administration of many sports - too many blazers who worry about minor rules infractions but can't get the big issues like doping under control.

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  8. On Lance Armstrong case, UCI president Pat McQuaid told AFP: “We tested Armstrong over 200 times and he was always negative, we tested the other riders many times and they were negative. Not only the UCI, but also USADA". “Bear in mind that this report has not emerged thanks to a UCI or USADA investigation. It’s Jeff Novitzky, a federal investigator, who collected all that information for the file.

    “It proves the use of having police involved in anti-doping investigation,”.

    Read more: Federal agents crucial in snaring Armstrong: UCI - Latest - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/federal-agents-crucial-in-snaring-armstrong-uci-1.160928##ixzz2AIvDlpwQ

    Who will be the special agent Jeff Novitzky of tennis?


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    1. Certainly a federal investigation is needed if the testing organizations look the other way and allow cheating to continue. I think it becomes more difficult for federal investigations in international sports b/c there's too many countries involved. And it seems as if the countries dedicated to anti doping get left behind and have no other choice but to look the other way or they'll stay behind if other countries choose to be dirty.
      Yannic Noah has been verbally attacking tennis federation, but that does not mean French tennis federation is clean which is why he may not be able to take his allegations to a higher level without bringing down his own nation. It gets tricky and provides many loopholes which is why it takes so long to expose cheats if ever.

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    2. Whoops. Meant to say Noah has been attacking Spanish tennis federation

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  9. team_kickass wrote:

    With what you nicely outlined above, why would the ITF not make use of that knowledge and set up a target testing program that would focus specifically on those cases, older players trying to cut ahead on recovery time extend careers or young one's on a breakthrough mission?

    Add to that any player that has suspicious performance peaks or incredible endurance or links to known doping propagandists such a del Moral and boom! there you have a rough scheme for what you should be going for.
    _____________________________________________________

    Seems so simple. Is so simple. Yet why can't they implement it?

    Apart from PEDS being used by a top player not wanting to accept he/she is fading off, and a young gun coming out of nowhere. Another prime candidate if the journeyman, so-so player ('so-so' by *top* standards, that is), who suddenly gains performance and consistency like never before, like nearly no-one before, and becomes a real 'player' at the top end. When, mid or even late career, everyone thought they were just a decent journeyman/woman who didn't quite have what it took to be a top star. Then suddenly, they're up there.

    Ferrer or Errani, anyone?

    (Even Djokovic - perennial #3 to perennial #1! Hypoxic egg chambers, anyone?)

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  10. Alright, admittedly this article a tad sappy, but it's the good kind of sappy.

    Betsy Andreu is pretty darn amazing and needs credit for taking all the pressure over the years, so go give it a read:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/lancearmstrong/9632129/Lance-Armstrong-is-a-bully.-I-could-not-let-him-win-says-whistle-blower-Betsy-Andreu.html

    Highlights:

    "We had to make a decision as a family whether to be on the Lance Armstrong financial gravy train or tighten our belts and have peace of mind within. Frankie is a fabulous saver, he is quite frugal and Lance would chide him for being cheap. We just cut back on everything, we couldn’t spend. (...)

    My message is that if you give in to peer pressure you can still redeem yourself. If you do wrong, you can then make a choice to do right. My story is that you can stand up to a bully. Don’t let the bully win, never let the bully win.’’

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  11. In other news, Luis Garcia del Moral defeated Mr. Samuel Stosur at the year end championship.I love WTA.

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  12. I have a question for mister Richard Ings.

    If a player tests positive and gets a provisional suspension, will the ATP president be aware of this?

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    1. I don't know for sure, but I would expect yes. If a player is provisionally suspended they will need to be immediately withdrawn from tournament they have entered. This would normally attract a very big fine from the ATP for a late withdrawal without excuse. But a provisional suspension would exempt the player from a late withdrawal fine so I would expect the ATP would be aware.

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    2. I just checked the ITF's anti-doping rules. The answer is yes. See Article 13.4.

      13.4 Subject strictly to Article 13.3, (a) the ITF shall send copies of any notices sent to a Player as part of the management of an apparent Whereabouts Failure to the ATP or WTA (as applicable); and (b) the ITF shall send a copy of any Notice of Charge to both WADA and the Participant’s National Anti- Doping Organisation, as well as to the ATP or WTA (as applicable), and (where the charge is based on an Adverse Analytical Finding from a sample collected at a Grand Slam event) to the Grand Slam Committee, and shall thereafter keep each of them informed in relation to the status of the case under Article 8...

      http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_61472_original.PDF

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    3. Also, as per article 8.5.2, an ATP/WTA representative can attend the hearing as an observer:

      ...Subject always to any contrary direction made by the Chairman of the Independent Tribunal for good cause shown, and also subject always to the confidentiality provisions of Article 13.4, (a) where the Player charged has an ATP ranking, an ATP representative may attend the hearing as an observer if the ATP so desires; (b) where the Player charged has a WTA ranking, a WTA representative may attend the hearing as an observer if the WTA so desires...

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    4. SEN just to clarify, the section you point to refers to sending a charge letter. A charge letter only is sent when both the A and B have been tested. The ITF rules are silent on who gets told if only the A is an adverse finding and the B is yet to be tested. WADA are aware of course as they are notified by the lab of the A positive. And the players NADO are also aware as they are notified of the A positive by the lab also.

      But I can't see where communication to the ATP/WTA is outlined in the ITF rules at the A sample stage. But I would expect the ITF would have to inform the ATP/WTA especially if the player had to withdraw from tournaments as a result of the provisional suspension.

      But that is just an educated guess. I don't know for sure the process that is actually applied.

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    5. I asked because of this http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2012/10/Features/Paris-London-Finals-Nadal-Withdraws.aspx

      The ATP president says Nadal was out because of injury. If he knew Nadal was serving a provisional suspension, he wouldn't say that. Right?

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  13. About omerta in tennis : of course, omerta exists ! No doubt.

    Jo Tsonga said it in Le Parisien (paper version) : "quoiqu'il arrive c'est très dur de parler [...] C'est facile de parler après, mais pendant, on ne peut pas... Si tu dis le moindre petit truc, tu te fais massacrer."
    (translation)
    "what happens, it is very tough to speak... [about doping] It's more easy to speak after, but during the action (?), you cannot... If you say the more little thing, you get exterminated."

    PS : very good job, Sen no Rikyū. To be continued !

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    Replies
    1. Precision : Tsonga was questionned about Amstrong.

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    2. Omerta is potentially an even bigger problem in tennis than cycling. Players are tanking all the time for money yet nothing is ever said or known.

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    3. If someone is able scan a readable image of the Tsonga interview from Le Parisien, please send it to me.

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