Monday, November 5, 2012

Stuart Miller on Federer's Comments (Update #1: Berdych)

Congratulations go out to the blog Drop Shot Dispatch for asking and getting an answer out of Stuart Miller regarding Roger Federer's comments about doping control in tennis. Here's an excerpt of Miller's response:
"...Roger Federer was tested an average of 8 times per year from 2004-2006, 11 times per year from 2007-2009, and 9 times per year in 2010-2012 (testing in 2012 is incomplete, so this number may change slightly).The number of tests conducted on tennis players by National Anti-Doping Organisations [NADOs] is not known..."
This finally puts to rest the "30 tests a year" myth.

One wonders why Miller doesn't know what NADOs are doing. They are all WADA signatories. They can share data.

Could it be that Miller is unaware of section 14.5 of the WADA Code?
14.5 Doping Control Information Clearinghouse WADA shall act as a central clearinghouse for Doping Control Testing data and results for International- Level Athletes and national-level Athletes who have been included in their National Anti-Doping Organization's Registered Testing Pool. To facilitate coordinated test distribution planning and to avoid unnecessary duplication in Testing by the various Anti-Doping Organizations, each Anti-Doping Organization shall report all In-Competition and Out-of-Competition tests on such Athletes to the WADA clearinghouse as soon as possible after such tests have been conducted. This information will be made accessible to the Athlete, the Athlete's National Federation, National Olympic Committee or National Paralympic Committee, National Anti-Doping Organization, International Federation, and the International Olympic Committee or International Paralympic Committee...
Once again, Stuart Miller fails to inspire confidence in the ITF's anti-doping regime.

Update #1: Tomas Berdych was also asked about doping in tennis yesterday:
Q.  Federer and Murray both talked about possibly needing more testing for doping in tennis.  I wonder how you feel about the situation.  Do you feel the number of tests is enough?

TOMAS BERDYCH:  Well, I mean, it's hard to tell.  I mean, I had a period of the season, I think I remember, yeah, it was beginning of the year.  I think I was in Rotterdam.  Until that time I've been tested six or seven times, which I don't even play that many tournaments since that.  I don't know how they can keep coming.  I don't remember all the tests.  But, I mean, I had it like probably 13, 15 a year.
I don't know if it's enough or not.  I don't know, if they want to be tested every single week, how many tests they had through the year.  For me, I think I see it like quite enough.  There is other things just to be probably discussed than just like how many tests a year.
I don't think this is an issue. 

16 comments:

  1. The beginning of that Miller quote said the stats don't indicate less testing now than in the past. I think they show precisely that, without even getting into the blood testing issue. He points out that 2012 isn't complete yet, but the guys are currently playing the last event (where they will presumably be tested no more than once). There could be some slight rounding going on here, but let's say Roger was tested on average 11 times each of 2007-2009 and an average of nine times each of 2010-2012 (with 2012 being currently incomplete). In order to get the 2010-2012 three year average up to the same 11 number from 2007-2009, that would require Roger to be tested 6 more times in 2012 (or maybe 5 more times if the rounding is a little screwy). Given the pattern of OOC tests in the past, I can't see Roger being tested anymore than two more times total. How do those stats not show that he has been tested less in the last three years than he was in 2007-2009?

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    1. Hey,

      This is Stuart Miller we're talking about. Master of evasive answers. Miller is saying that compared to the 2004-2006 period, Federer is getting tested more often during 2010-12. Please ignore the 2007-2009 time frame as it does not fit Miller's narrative.

      Anyone familiar with the expression "Juking the Stats"?

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    2. Oh, and congrats to Amy. She got a response from Miller that only used the word "confidential" once. That's got to be some new record.

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    3. Yeah, this guy is funny. Interesting that he now wants to talk about testing statistics when the ITF has stopped breaking out the detailed analysis like they used to. The previous format made it trivial to compare year-to-year analysis. Now, we just have to take Mr. Miller's word that "statistics don’t support the suggestion that there is less testing." I mean, he "proves" this by looking at just one player, and even then his "analysis" leaves one scratching their head.

      However, in Mr. Miller's defense, there were 0 OOC blood test in 2008 and 2009 -- so it is mathematically impossible for there to be less today. So, I guess he can't be wrong on that one.

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    4. One other thing to point out is that I just went back through the 2009 stats, and I think Roger was tested 13 times in that year. Therefore, as part of the average of 11 over the 2007-2009 time period, it demonstrated an increase in testing for Federer in 2009. That's a trend that we would like to see continued. Instead, over the next three years, Federer has averaged four fewer tests per year than he had in 2009 (all while the ITF stayed under budget).

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  2. Why would Roger Federer say he's getting tested less if he wasn't actually getting tested less? Unless of course he's getting senile and actually forgets being tested? I mean, after all, he IS 31 years old!

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    1. Over a period of 8 years, few people would be able to accurately recall the exact number of tests they received. This would be like someone saying "8 years ago, I ate at McDonalds more than I do today." It may be true, it may not be, but it is not based on a scientific calculation -- just a gut feeling.

      What is important is Mr. Federer's general impression that he is getting tested less now. This implies that the testing is not excessive. In addition, as others have pointed out, the response from Mr. Miller is just "juking" the data. It combines some years, but not others, uses averages over large periods and requires you to ignore a two year period in order for the analysis to agree with what Mr. Miller wants it to.

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  3. From both Murray's and Federer's remarks I get the sense, that they have only begun to understand possible dimensions a revealed case of a top-ten player or systematic doping over a long period in tennis could have, after watching what happened to pro-cycling and Armstrong.

    An entire sport can be utterly and completely destroyed from it, especially if when one keeps in mind that a federation itself, the UCI, was in involved in covering up positive cases and fostered corrupt behaviour.

    I think it's less the revelation of doping of an individual player they would fear the most, but more the overall consequences of a revealed scandal from the past that would lay bare how fraudulent some of the slam titles were all along, when finally players would speak up and reveal their knowledge of possible systematic doping at the top over the recent decade, or faked TUE's, covered up positive tests etc.

    I like how David Millar described it for cycling in a recent interview for The Guardian:

    "The more people get educated about the past the more precarious the UCI's position becomes. Within the sport, we had in-depth knowledge of cheating. Now there is a public awakening and the UCI will be in real trouble unless they make a full apology There seems to be some unbreakable alliance between McQuaid and Verbruggen. Pat needs to cut that cord and move forward. He needs to wake up to the fact that some revolutions become unstoppable."

    The more people know and the more comes to light, the more difficult it gets for the ITF to justify their lose testing, this has become clear from seeing what happened in cycling. The pressure to act seems to have increased.

    Watching the rapidity of Armstrong's downfall, someone formerly considered invincible and made of teflon by many, clearly woke up some in the tennis community. As David Miller puts it, "the sheer speed and and how hard he has fallen" must have been shocking and served as a wake-up call not only to cyclists.

    A wake-up call either to go public and engage in seemingly absurd deceptive maneuvers, as Stuart Miller from the ITF has demonstrated to us nicely with his latest statements on Fed's testing. Thereby demonstrating ably the art of twisting stats until they say what you want them to say. Pure damage control imo, in order to appear immaculate and to sidetrack from the obvious problems. How long will he get away with stuff like that, I wonder?

    Or a wake up call, as in the case of Fed and Murray, to speak up for better testing, including blood testing, so that the image of the sport cannot be tainted by possible accusations that surely can be brought up, if people only would look closer into the matter of testing in tennis. A pro-active defense shield, so to speak, to get tennis out of the line of fire, maybe? A call for action, to their own federation, how ironic that they have to remind them to act by demanding blood-testing!

    So far, people haven't looked into specifics of testing enough (only this blogg has) - but maybe the tide will turn in the wake of Lance's incredible downfall in front of the public eye? Tennis surely is not short of players in similar height and pofile for an equally dramatic as well as swift fall.
    Maybe more questions will be asked and more people want to know as a consequence of what has happend in cycling?

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    1. While true that a major doping scandal in tennis would be harmful, I am not sure tennis and cycling can be compared in terms of "harm" to the sport. When people say the doping scandal ruined cycling, what does this mean? Well, there is still a Toue-de-France. There are still people racing. There are still people watching racing -- it never was a huge television affair anyway.

      However, many sponsors have left cycling. For instance the US Post Office no longer sponsors a team, some banks no longer sponsor teams. So, "ruined cycling" essentially means that there are fewer sponsors spending fewer dollars on cyclist -- certainly bad for the sport.

      But in tennis, most of the sponsors have no choice. Is Wilson going to stop sponsoring tennis players? Is Nike going to stop sponsoring tennis players? Sure some of the very top players get sponsorships from banks and other entities, but it is not anywhere near as dominate as in cycling.

      Also, Lance Armstrong was unique. He was the undisputed king of his sport for 7 years. I know some people will say, "Federer has been king for 7 years," or "X player has been king," but the simple fact is that there has not been the outright dominance in tennis -- yes, Nadal on clay probably qualifies, but it is just clay, not the whole sport. And most American recreational players do not play on clay or even relate to play on clay.

      The point it, it should not be about "a doping scandal will ruin tennis." I think tennis would survive just fine even if ranks #1-10 all tested positive tomorrow. It should be about a sport where no athlete feels they need to dope in order to reach the top. This is why I feel more transparency is needed, not just simply testing more. Of course, it would also help if people like Mr. Miller expressed some actual interest in catching cheats rather than just shutting their eyes and saying "I don't see any cheating."

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  4. I can't help but thinking of it this way:

    Federer says "I'm not tested enough."

    Miller says "Yes you are."

    I can see that exchange ending up on "The Daily Show" as its "Moment of Zen"

    Think about it for a second....

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    1. It almost sounds like a dare.

      It's awfully convenient for Nadal that all of this is coming up whilst he's "injured". I'm surprised no one has asked his opinion on it. I mean he's still out there somewhere. Just not on the tennis court. Isn't he one of the players who has complained of being tested too much?

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    2. An interesting, though short, article on Nadal's injuries:

      http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Anitua-and-Sanchez-doctors-of-Rafael-Nadal-The-treatment-used-to-treat-the-injury-is-accepted-articolo5988.html

      Essentially, he is receiving some type of autologous plasma transfusion. It also identifies "enriched growth factors," which implies some type of growth hormone. The treatment apparently required a TUE, which as granted in less than 24 hours.

      As such, Mr. Nadal is clearly using PEDS. The proof is this article in which his doctor describes the use of the growth hormone and how he was granted a TUE to do so.

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    3. I think you're misreading the article. PRP treatment is allowed under the WADA Code. No TUE is required. The "growth factors" are those that are already present in the blood. There is no evidence of PED use in the article.

      This is not to say that PRP could not be abused by some athletes as a cover/mask for doping (e.g., see stories of Dr. Anthony Galea).

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    4. Sen, you're right of course for the matter of no TUE being required for PRP treatment, but it does seem rather strange and suspect to me that Nadal didn't get both of his knees treated at the same time - to allow for a longer period of covering up suspect blood levels of whatever he may or may not have been using?
      In all it's a strange story indeed.

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    5. I guess this is not doping because the WADA has said it is not doping. See http://www.usada.org/prohibited-list/athlete-guide/
      noting "WADA has clarified that even though Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) contains growth factors, PRP is not prohibited."

      PRP therapy is a type of homologous blood transfer, which is also a prohibited method, but the WADA has simply decided to define it as not-doping.

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    6. Apparantly, it was illegal prior to 2010. From the WADA:
      "Platelet-derived preparations (commonly referred as PRP or blood spinning), prohibited in 2010 when administered by intra-muscular route, have been removed from the List for 2011 after consideration of the lack of current evidence concerning the use of these methods for purposes of performance enhancement. Current studies on platelet-derived preparations do not demonstrate a potential for performance enhancement beyond a potential therapeutic effect."

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