Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stacey Allaster (Update #5)

Offered without comment. A couple of comments on Allaster's statements below:
1. What kind of investigation was conducted by the ATP/ITF/WTA regarding Dr. del Moral's activities in tennis? What was the timing? What were the findings? Did the ITF seek any assistance from the USADA?
2. Is Allaster even aware that some top WTA players (e.g., Serena Williams and Li Na) have gone a year or more without an ITF out-of-competition test (see here and here)?

Excerpt from an interview with Stacey Allaster, the chairman and chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association conducted by Christopher Clarey of the New York Times.

Q. How concerned are you about the issue of Spanish doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, who has been banned by Usada after the Lance Armstrong investigation and has had contact with Sara Errani in Valencia?
A. I think there has been no indication that there’s any issues with Errani, and that’s probably all I can say at this point and time. She hasn’t tested positively, and there’s no connection. She was going to see him for other reasons. And we’ve looked into it.

Q. Do you feel tennis needs to devote more resources to this considering that, looking at the Armstrong case, athletes can apparently pass all the tests in the world and it doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot?
A. There’s no question that tennis is vigorously tested so I have a lot of confidence from the programs, with the top players supporting 365 days in and out of competition, that we’re doing a good job with tennis anti-doping. But there’s no question when you see what has happened that I know everyone is always looking to see how we can make improvements, and we stand united that we’ve got a zero tolerance for cheating in our sport.

Update #1:

Give this a read:  “There was a time when it wasn’t cool to be a fan with a typewriter. When you went to a stadium you went as a journalist, and you didn’t express any partisanship for one team or another [...] People always used to say that I was the cynic. You might find this strange, but I’m the only one who isn’t cynical, because all the guys who had a sense that he was cheating but thought it was too much trouble to investigate it, that it would make their lives messy – to me they are the cynics.”

Update #2: "Writing about doping in sport is a complete and utter ball-ache."

Update #3: "Cycling's governing body agreed Monday to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life"


  1. Completely meaningless answers. What are these "other reasons" for which Errani was seeing Del Moral? So if Errani says "I didn't see him for dope, I saw him for ", then that is all that is required for not having to bother about it any more? How on earth does Stacey Allaster know why she is seeing him? And a lack of positive test is given as a reason for her cleanness?? What planet has Allaster been living on the last few months??

    Then on the second question, which specifically mentions that testing usually doesn't mean much, she rambles on about how good a testing program tennis has(!!) (didn't she listen to the question before spewing out the usual nonsense??), then mentioned the tired old, and incorrect, notion, that tennis's testing regime is "vigorous".

    For the 300th time, just because players must give whereabouts info for 365 days a year, DOES NOT MEAN they are OOC tested usually more than "1-3 times" per year. (And can miss two of these)

    This interview reminds me of the sort of rubbish the UCI (Cycling Union) would've come up with until a couple of weeks ago.

  2. She stuck to her talking points. Good for her. I hear we have an opening in a really nice white building in Washington in a few month's time if she's interested. Though she better hurry, only a few weeks until the election.

    In all seriousness, this pisses me off. They all know what's going on. They see the shortcomings in their approach (which by itself obviously doesn't guarantee that doping is going on). They do have a limited budget, probably in combination with no will to do anything about it due to the devastating financial toll it would take on the game, so they're really in a tough spot.

    In some ways I feel sorry for them. In this way I don't: It's your job to fix this. It's not easy, but you don't have to burn the house down to solve it. Take a proactive approach geared towards deterrence. Be extremely transparent with the public going forward. Tell the players that you're coming after them. Show the players that you mean that. They get two missed tests in 18 months, and you've not tested nearly enough to make most players bump up against that wall. If you have a paradigm shift, they'll get the memo in plenty of time to change their behavior before they would be caught.

  3. Comments like that just go to show how complicit the authorities are in allowing doping to take place.

    It makes you despair.

    1. The ITF and the WTA, along with the ATP, know full well as you and I know full well, that both Errani and David Ferrer have probably doped under the guidance of Spain's pre-eminent Magic Doctor. All these authorities are faced with the same problems as anyone else has in proving it. They have even more problems in saying it. The lesson from pro-cycling, perhaps, is that it is no longer a matter for us to prove the players guilt. Rather, it falls to a player in a situation such as David Ferrer's, to prove his innocence of doping. The evidence from USADA tells us that doping was basically all that Dr Del Moral did. David, why else was Del Moral on your team other than to dope you?

  4. Once again, the "they are vigorously tested" line of BS that everyone is tennis feeds the media.

    This interview was a total joke - did the interviewer even press her on the dealings del Moral had with Armstrong and how he was the "doping doctor?" Did she honestly think Errani would be honest with her or the WTA about her associations with him?

    1. Beating a dead horse that we've already killed 10 times, but I'll say it again. TRANSPARENCY. They obviously can't reveal any medical information, but the public should have the right to know what steps were taken in the investigation. I'm like you, was the only investigatory step to ask Errani if she did anything wrong (and presumably look at her medical records). Did they expect Errani or del Moral to say, "yep, you got us; here are the medical records that show her weekly use of EPO, etc."

      It's imperative that an organization be forthright about an investigation like this if they want any credibility.

    2. They're won't be any incriminating medical records. That is not how these doctors work. Everything is handled in highly clandestine fashion. There's some fascinating stuff coming out now in Italy where the public prosecutor investigating Michele Ferrari has traced the illegal flows of money and pharmaceuticals. However, there's still difficulty in tracing all that information back to individual cyclists.

      If you analyse Stacey Allaster's answers line by line you can readily see that her statement is full of phoney utterances. She comes across as little more than a propagandist and an apologist for doping in women's tennis. I'm not surprised the WTA is struggling to find sponsors. Who'd put good money into a game currently dominated by doped hyenas?

    3. Peter, that's also what I was getting at. Even if they turned over medical records, that's of absolutely no consequence. As we both know an "investigation" would have to involve more than direct correspondence with the player and/or doctor.

    4. Someone has to have records of some kind. They may not be the official medical records, but there have to be records somewhere that contain the real dirt.

      Once an organization gets large and complex enough, they have no choice but to start leaving a paper trail. Otherwise, they can't coordinate their activities effectively. Without memoranda and spreadsheets and lists to communicate among their members and keep track of what's going on, how can they function?

      These networks of doping doctors have hard data somewhere on who they're servicing, what those services entail, and how much is being paid for those services. No one's memory is good enough to hold all that information.

      All it takes is a group of sufficiently enterprising investigators to get their hands on that data.

    5. I think a cleverer ITF (I know, the current one's in charge are just for-show) would obviously need to dig into del Moral's tennis ties via asking some of the cyclists who already gave their testimony. Maybe they observed other suspicious names and meetings of del Moral, something, that might relate to tennis?

      Also, Spanish Anti-Doping (in an ideal world, I know) would bloody bust that TenisVal Academy by beginning to investigate players who trained there and seriously investigating their staff's doing's.

      Also, in an ideal world, both Ferrer and Errani should be under heavy target-testing during the warm-up period prior to the AO.

      I know, all this is wishful thinking on my behalf, but still, this would be how a good anti-doping program could at least have a chance against cheats and keep their face!

      Ferrer's current coach, Javier Piles, still works at TenisVal, and I am sure he learned his "dark arts" from the master himself and has access to all the necessary stuff still. Sadly, I have no proof for this, but it is very likely.

      On a side-note, the NYT piece is just another in a line of bad journalism on their behalf. If you want to confront someone like Stacey Allaster , you need to have your facts ready, man! Now your stats for a start! You gotta be persistent AND precise - also not buying into their ready-made excuses.

      I mean, look at what David Walsh did - he is a wonderful example for any sports writer (who is NOT another fanboy writing hero-stories after hero-story) and I would seriously wish journalists would read his books as an inspiration before writing yet another lazy piece.

      NYT praises itself on its own high standards in journalism - however, this piece is NOT an example to illustrate that claim. Shame on them!

  5. From what she says, the length of the 'investigation' was to look at Errani's dope test records, and to ask her if she took dope.

    I honestly don't think any more was done. Nor wanted to be done. For instance, did anyone ask her why she and her brother/manager can't stick to the same story?

  6. The question isn't "Why aren't they being transparent?" but "What incentive do they have to be transparent?"

    Only the dedicated few like SnR are actually looking at whatever scanty data are available and checking to see whether it all adds up. The vast majority of those who read that interview are probably completely satisfied with Allaster's answers and thinks the ATP/WTA/ITF are doing a bang-up job in fighting doping.

    Like I said, not only do people not know, they don't want to know. They want to cheer mindlessly as tireless superhuman gladiators perform physically impossible feats and they don't care how it's done, they just want it done. You tell 'em their fave is juicing, it ruins the illusion.

    In the absence of massive pressure to be forthcoming and honest, there is no reason for the ATP to be forthcoming and honest, and every reason for them to be the exact opposite.

    Lack of transparency, indeed deliberate opacity and obscurantism, is the default mode of all large organizations. They'll always prefer to handle their problems in-house to avoid embarrassing themselves before the world and bury evidence of wrongdoing within their ranks. It may occasionally be a good idea at first but taken to an extreme (as it almost always is) it encourages wholesale corruption.

    They begin by allowing people to escape accountability for fairly minor infractions and pretty soon they're engaged in full-blown conspiracy and cover-up as people blatantly violate the rules and they're forced to keep hiding worse and worse things from the world to avoid public embarrassment, and possibly civil or criminal liability.

    It was recently revealed that almost since their founding, the Boy Scouts have secretly kept "perversion files" on members of their organization who had been accused of sexual abuse. The accusations were often handled internally, quietly and without notifying police, in order to avoid damaging the reputation of the Scouts. Now a judge has ordered twenty years' worth of these files to be released publicly. Now we'll find out the real dirt: the extent to which the organization systematically covered up and enabled acts of pedophilia.

    Unless someone is going to bring suit against the ATP or the WTA to force them to give out their documents, we won't be able to get any transparency. By documents, I mean not the rules that they make public (which are often so vague as to be useless in shedding light on how the tour really works), but their internal documents that indicate how they actually operate day-to-day--case files, policy memoranda, and the like. We can see what the real culture of the tour is, not just the spin that flacks like Allaster tell us.

    That might be an idea, actually, assuming some clever lawyers are reading this blog. Are there legal grounds that would compel the release of those documents?

  7. I see McQuaid is trying to be our new hero. Too little too late, Paddy.

    It will never happen, but in an ideal universe cycling should have Ashenden and Pound heading a new cycling anti-doping body with a new name, to combat cycling's doping.

    As for Stuart Miller, and why he is our head of doping at tennis... I cannot logically fathom that. But looking at Stacey Allaster's comments also, makes me think that not asking yourself tough questions, and trying to merely paddle along smoothly without wanting any unnecessary bumps, is the ultimate goal. Then having Miller in charge of tennis's anti-doping makes perfect sense.

  8. On a realted note, I read that Cadell Evans now has confessed he saw Dr. Ferrari - but only once.

    I suppose it must have been a cardiac exam...