Sunday, January 20, 2013

Open Thread (Update #2)

Update #2: Quite a development. Neil Harman has written piece advocating for better anti-doping controls in tennis: "The problem with tennis is not whether it has a cheating culture, but that if it does, unless there is a dramatic shift in approach, we will never know about it." (If you want to read the whole article Google "Lax drug-testing casts undue shadow over centre court" and click on the link to "The Australian")

There are also rumours swirling regarding Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová. Ben Rothenberg has reported on twitter that the "ITF says at this point it cannot confirm/deny rumors of Barbora Zahlavova Strycova testing positive, as reported in Czech media."

***

Update #1: Tennis anti-doping boss Stuart Miller did an interview with BBC Radio today. Just listen to it. Starts at 5.30 mark.

***
Some thoughts to carry people through the 2nd week of the Australian Open. The quotes below come from Charlie Francis (who was Ben Johnson's sprint coach), appearing in his book Speed Trap, published all the way back in 1990. And no offense to Tyler Hamilton, but Francis's book is far superior to The Secret Race. Anyway, here's some of the things Francis had to say:
"...steroids are training drugs, an investment for a future advantage. User improve because they can train harder and faster--and superior training yields superior performances down the road. When a world-class athlete claims he doesn't need steroids because he "work hard," he is stating a non sequitur. It is the steroids that allow him to work so hard--to increase his training capacity and withstand extreme physiological stress, thereby raising his performance level." (p. 90-91)
"International sport is moving irrevocably toward a two-tiered athletic society--to prosecute the great mass of uninformed and expendable players, while giving carte blanche to a handful of well-connected superstars. Doping control in the 1990s will formalize limited, beatable testing--a controlled and selective roulette with the risk of major scandal. The anxious network sugar daddies will be appeased, the record-hungry fans satiated. And if the competitions become over-produced Hollywood farces, with an ever-widening gap between the few authentic contenders and all the rest with no chance, who will be the wiser." (p. 299)

"If we are to have drug testing worthy of the name, it must be administered by an independent agency, one without ties to the commercial side of the sport." (p. 302)
 "...as long as hundredths of seconds translate into millions of dollars and blinding celebrity, athletes will do whatever they can to win." (p. 302)

And for those new to the blog, all the background you need is available via the page tabs:

The Case Against Tennis

Recommended Reading

Notable Quotes

Doping Statistics

Doping Cases

89 comments:

  1. "...steroids are training drugs....."

    so is it djokovic on Steroids or EPO?

    there are some signs for both:

    loss of weight/gain in power- EPO
    roid rage - Steroids
    white skin marks - EPO
    muscles - Steroids
    acne.......
    from average physical fitness to superior one in short time....

    can someone clarify what is his doping?
    thanks

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    1. White skin marks? I remember seeing them on Djokovic in 2011 but I didn't know what they were. They were on his neck and collarbone.

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  2. irrelevant to post, but good article http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Featured-News/What-Tennis-Can-Learn-from-the-Armstrong-Interview.aspx

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  3. Since there is no section or thread on PED jokes, I thought I'd place a good one, I came across the other day, here. After all, clowns such as our heroes and heroines deserve, amongst other things, to be laughed at, don't they. Well, here goes:
    Two sisters, arguably the biggest stars of the WTA Tour, are having a confidential conversation, as sisters would. And one says:
    "I think Dad is putting something into our food."
    "Why do you think so?"
    "Well, I've got hair growing in strange places..."
    "Like, where?"
    "Like on my balls, you know..."

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  4. Seppi says: "Djokovic says he hasn't had antidoping tests in 6 months? I had 3 only in December including a blood test".


    So, three ooc tests for Seppi in Dec, 4 for Nadal. New attitude from the ITF after Armstrong?

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  5. "Tennis considers 'biological passport'" in usatoday.Com
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/tennis/2013/01/20/australian-open-doping-biological-passport/1849295/

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  6. Steffi Graf on Djokovic: "The match stayed competitive all the way until the end but Djokovic, who always seems to have a physical edge over his opponents, claimed victory at 12-10 in the 5th. I’m curious to see how he will recover from the 5 hours and if he’ll be ready for another tough opponent in Berdych tomorrow." Quite sibylline...

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    1. ...and considering who her hubby is, she should know a thing or two about doping.

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  7. Stuart Miller is just not convincing me..... He sounded so evasive and defensive, and just didn't really address the real issues raised in that interview. His responses about finances were risable.

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  8. Ok, so here is a brief summary of the Miller interview:

    Miller wants to focus on (1) increasing blood tests, (2) increasing out-of-competition test, (3) introducing some type of biological passport.

    He mentions that the biological passport is "blood based." Not in the interview is any discussion about what a "blood based" passport is and how it does not account for anabolic steroids -- which are covered by a yet undeveloped urine based passport.

    Asked about "backdating tests" -- that is, retesting old samples. Says they store the samples and have the ability to retest them but there "has to be a good reason to do so." Does not mention that any of them have been retested despite various new tests for drugs being developed.

    "Why not just increase blood tests?" Miller says, there are "financial constraints."

    But players make a lot of money, the sport has a lot of money. Last year your anti-doping was under budget, right? Miller says, "I am not going to get into that." "There are resource constraints." Says, "we need to have an education program" to educate players who are "ignorant" of the effects of doping. Says money is better spent on teaching players to make the "right decisions."

    Another odd comment he made is that all testing is "unannounced." That is, he considers the long standing practice of loser targeted testing to not exist and believes that players are genuinely surprised when they receive the "tap on the shoulder" from anti-doping officials -- even though this only comes after the loss of a match in a tournament and has for years. He also clearly stated that out-of-competition testing meant testing outside a tournament -- not testing on off days or prior to losing.

    My comments: I don't think I need to say too much about this buffoon. The reporters did a pretty good job of grilling him on the finances BS he was spouting and asking why blood testing has been decreasing when he now says it needs to increase.

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  9. Jim Courier: Are you tired?
    David Ferrer: No, I am perfect!

    Heheheh :) He definetely did not lie!!

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  10. Miller also said Djokovic has had 22 urine tests in 18 months - that's a pretty hefty number historically.

    Recorded as 7+ in the 2011 pdf. Can't imagine what made them suspicious :-)

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    1. Isn't the 7+ based on in-competition testing? If so then it's surely based on the number of tournaments he entered and stayed deep into? Not necessarily OOC target testing? I hope it is, but I seem to remember his 2011 OOC tests were 1-3. Probably one - in October (because he tweeted about it).

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    2. urine tests ?
      sounds like "walmart drug test for employment"

      he is doping with some high tech stuff,urine tests are joke.

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    3. Yeah, the 7+ was IC only.

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  11. Djokovic looking absolutely shattered after his 5 set epic. Can barely move.

    Oh wait, my mistake. He's sprinting around at 500mph and barely breathing.

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  12. You wouldn't have known which player was well rested and which had finished at 02:00 after a 5 hour epic. Someone awaking from a coma really would not have had any idea.

    As for Stuart Miller's comedy routine, HE is the one responsible for reducing blood tests, HE is the one who can easily increase them. And you can't blame the budget when you don't even meet it any way! Hellooo!!

    Pity Ferrer didn't lose too. I was rooting for Almagro for ideological reasons, even though for all I know he is suspicious. He doesn't have Ferrer's muscles or history that's for sure. So he is less suspicious. Not surprising to see Ferrer last the distance and play better in the fifth than in the first. He trains with Del Moral, doesn't he?

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  13. Novak beats Berdych in 4 after that tough 5 setter. Crazy. The guy deserves to win w/e he's on

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  14. Nole has kindly assured us that his recovery practices are legal; however, they must remain secret of course:

    "Q. What is that routine?

    NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I can't say that. Sorry. Have to keep it private."

    "Q. As a sportsfan, could you understand how it could be surprising for people to see?

    NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You can go through different kinds of discussions about these things. I mean, the people who don't know tennis, who have never been in those kinds of situations would not truly understand what the player has to go through, not just when you prepare for a Grand Slam, but also during a Grand Slam. After five hours of match, you need to really put a lot of time into recovery, different kind of recoveries.

    As I said, I understand that many people have many different views and opinions, and I respect that. But I'm doing everything that is legal, that is correct, that is natural that I can, possibly can in my power, and it's working well."

    Source: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2013-01-22/201301221358858753846.html

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    2. They're asking the tough questions at the press conferences during this Aus Open. Look at this previous Djokovic presser:

      http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2013-01-18/201301181358494124258.html

      It's true. Djokovic does have remarkable defensive skills.

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  15. I don't understand why WADA or whoever is testing during slams doesn't test Djoker the day after a long match like the one against Wawrinka? Isn't that when he would be doping in order to recover? When it would still be in his system? Or is it simply because they DON'T WANT TO CATCH HIM UNLESS HE'S STUPID ENOUGH TO GET CAUGHT? I suspect they don't want to catch him.

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  16. Would it make sense if doped athletes are more vulnerable earlier on in tournaments, since at that point their recovery advantages have not kicked in yet? Or would they be strongest at the start of the tournament, since they are then fresh off their super training sessions?

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    1. There are many layers to doping. First, there are anabolic steroids -- mainly testosterone. This would be taken well before a tournament as part of training. It could also be used during training to help with recovery but it would be taken immediately after a match in that case and micro dosed. It is not likely that the testing that the ITF does for steroids would catch this because it would not trigger any thing out of range.

      Prior to the tournament, the player would would use EPO to boost red blood cells. This could also be used during the tournament via micro dosing. The ITF does not even test for some versions of EPO and it is not clear that they even test for EPO at all.

      The player could also do simple blood transfusions. Currently, these are undetectable. The transfusions would be taken prior to when the most endurance was expected. The downside is that the player is limited to one or maybe two total transfusions during a tournament -- because the player has to set aside his own blood to do this.

      In any case, the head of the WADA certified lab has stated that the window for all micro dosing is 15-20 hours max (http://espn.go.com/tennis/aus13/story/_/id/8820717/how-lance-armstrong-affected-tennis). So, any testing needs to be done in that window. Given the current policy of testing only after match loss, there is very little risk of being caught. That is, you win a 5 hour match, dope up, play another match 40 hours later, loose -- your are clear. Even if the match is the next day, you will still be clear. This is why the current testing system is essentially worthless.

      During a tournament, Provigil (Modafinil) could be used to increase concentration and decrease the feeling of fatigue. Likely the player would have a TUE of this drug. Baseball has stated that 8% of its players have TUE's for this drug (or similar ADHD drugs) and there is no reason to suspect that tennis is any different. Obviously, testing for it is worthless because its use is permitted under the TUE.

      Also, the player might take broncho dilators (asthma medication). Likely the player would have a TUE for this as well. The WADA describes the standard for granting these TUEs as a 12% increase is the amount of air you can blow out in 1 second after you take the medication. So, just don't blow that hard, take the medication, and blow really hard -- there you go, instant TUE. (http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/Science_Medicine/Medical_info_to_support_TUECs/WADA_Med_info_Asthma_v2.2_Nov2009_EN.pdf).

      The above is for men. Women would use anavar or nandrolone as part of training. EPO or blood transfusions would not really be needed given that most of the matches are relatively short. Women would also benefit from broncho dilators and ADHD medication but could just as easily get TUEs.

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  17. I would welcome the introduction of a blood passport in Tennis, but I'll only believe it when I see it.

    I turned off the Ferrer/Almagro match after the second set. I'm not surprised Ferrer won. Even after he went down 2-0 in sets, I figured he would come roaring back and turn it around. How long did the match last? 4? 5 hours?

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    1. I am suspicious as to why a new (and costly) program is being developed when the existing program is simply not being enforced effectively. Currently, all you have to do is increase the out-of-competition testing to once a month for targeted athletes. This way they can't beat the "three strikes" rule under the whereabouts system. In addition, conduct "off day" testing at tournaments, conduct Carbon-isotope tests for testosterone, and re-test old samples for CERA and testosterone using the CIR test. This will be far more useful than a undisclosed passport program.

      Keep in mind who is running the "passport." They will likely have announced days on which the blood is drawn that the athlete will know about months in advance. They will then tout the new "passport" as proof the sport is clean.

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    2. The Australian Football League has been profiling blood for five years now.

      "League medical commissioner Dr Peter Harcourt said records from five years of blood testing AFL players were available to doping investigators."

      "We have been blood testing in the AFL for four or five years - and now ASADA are introducing the Athlete Biological Passport, we are morphing our blood profiling, which is essentially the same, into the biological passport."

      "But basically it's exactly the same as what we have been doing with the blood testing and urine testing. That was a part of the strategy - to get ahead of the game."

      Read more: http://www.news.com.au/top-stories/afl-introduces-same-biological-data-system-used-by-cycling-to-catch-doping-cheats/story-e6frfkp9-1226558778001#ixzz2Il7DRMSH

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    3. The key to the AFL's program is that they note that "We do 1000 tests a year." And these are blood tests. The ITF did a handful of OOC blood test in 2011 and 140 in-competition tests, and that is both WTA and ATP. It is simply impossible to build a blood profile with such few tests.

      It now seems clear that the reason for the reduction in blood tests was that the ITF knew it was implementing a blood based biological passport and did not want anyway to "back date" the tests. That is, for the AFL, with 1000 blood tests a year, they have enough data to build the profile and then go back over the last couple years and look for targets.

      The ITF does not have enough historical data to make this possible and it can only be used going forward. In addition, with so few historical data points, the ITF's initial implementation will allow for a wide variety of values to be accepted. As such, the first year will essentially be a "free" year where the parameters are being narrowed without any ability to ban dopers. The reduction in blood tests was always curious, but now this makes perfect sense. It essentially allows the players to know to stop taking EPO well in advance without risking any major scandal for catching existing players -- well done Dr. Miller.

      I have no problem with "blood passports" when properly implemented. However, the ITF's track record for properly implemented doping programs is 0%.

      People should also understand that a "blood passport" will not detect anabolic steroids, amphetamines, HGH, or a large variety of other prohibited substances. It is essentially limited to EPO like drugs and blood transfusions.

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  18. Has anyone ever asked Miller why only the losers of a match are tested? Is there any other sport that would test the losers and not the winners? Does he think that in horse racing (corrupt as that world can be) they test the losers and not the winner of the race? NO. They test the WINNERS.

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    1. It's really simple: they should test both winners and losers, and they should test winners on the off-days as well, when they are "doing everything that is legal, that is correct, that is natural" while going through "different kinds of recoveries", which they, alas, "have to keep private" from us "people [who] have many different views and opinions" - so as to show us that "respect" that they "have", and so that we, who "don't know tennis", may learn from them knowledgeable people, such as assorted Djokos, Millers et al... and not have to wait until they appear on our tellies as Opra's guests.

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    2. I think the ITF knows how to run a proper Anti Doping program but they wont because they're afraid to catch the big fish. It's a conflict-of-interest problem.

      I have a simple solution:

      Instigate a proper Anti Doping Program but make it applicable only to players who have joined the tour since 2005. Everyone else can continue to do whatever they like. That will keep the reputations of the big stars safe and the image of the sport untarnished. After about ten years or so, due to eventual retirements, the sport will be truly clean.

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  19. Don't know about you guys, but from reading Djokovic's interview as well as the MTF and tennis warehouse forums, it seems to me there's really a massive change in the perception of the fans.

    I mean never before did I see so many posts openly ridiculing Djokovic, calling him "Egg" or "Lance" and transparently suggesting he was doping. Same goes for Ferrer. You also have topics discussing the Fuentes case. You have lots of people asking how it is possible that Djokovic was so fresh against Berdych after his match against Wawrinka. It seems like an avalanche. Before that the forums were tightly locked, but it seems the mods can't control the mood anymore...

    It's probably a combination of the work done by this blog and the Armstrong confession, but the times are definitely a-changin'. The ITF and Stuart Miller may be blind to it and think they just have to weather the storm, but the change in the mentalities of the fans will have long-lasting effects that we do not fully perceive yet... In the end if tennis is not credible any more in the eyes of the fans they will be forced to act to at least paper things over. That's what these doofuses can't seem to understand, that the tide is turning against them even as they feel completely in control.

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  20. Even if tennis is generally clean (which I doubt), the palpable change in public and press levels of suspicion should get the attention of ITF. Seeing this issue aired openly (at last) is healthy, and should compel the authorities to institute a far more rigorous and robust program of testing. They must do this, if they want to maintain the sports reputation, keep the fans and sponsors engaged, and protect the legitimate interests of the many hard working, honest folk whose livelihoods depend directly or indirectly on the sport.

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    1. In a perfect world you would be right arcus. I hope that one day we can see a moderately clean sport with true independent and transparent testing. It won't ever be truly drug free but at least we won't have the two tiered system that we have now. We have the few who are protected from ever getting caught and the many who are comparatively tested more often so that they will never have a decent chance to play on a level field with the rampant dopers.

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  21. One thing that slightly irked me from the Armstrong interview, is him not stating that sports in general are not clean (He just kept saying it was only him). That would have been eye opening for the general public. He could have easily compared testing in cycling to say that of the NBA. He could have been more detailed for the general public to understand how easy it is to dope. But, oh well.

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    1. Armstrong is still omerta through and through which is why he: lied about riding clean in 2009-10 and why he didn't name anyone else.

      He isn't going to spit in the soup.

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    2. Documentary filmmaker Quentin McDermott reacts to Lance Armstrong's Oprah interview
      Jan 19, 2013 | 8:03

      http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/ID/2327235147/

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  22. Steve Tignor's latest article talks about how players are rightfully being asked about doping. I'd quote some, but there's quite a lot, and also some about Fuentes afterwards.

    http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/01/keeping-tabs-melbourne-jan-23/46139/

    I was quite impressed with those journalists asking Novak abuot his recovery. Never before has he literally said he's "legal" but he was very pressed on the matter so had little choice.

    (Previously he usually says he wants a "level playing field" which does not mean much. For all we know he considers a little "help" to eradicate (and then some) his breathing problems is simply to put him on a "level playing field", not an unfair advantage.

    I also hadn't read in Djokovic's interview from the 3rd rd win that Lance Armstrong mentioned that he wanted to watch Djokovic's 3rd round match. Interesting!

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  23. Tennis has a steroid problem.

    UK Police have a steroid problem.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21154316

    The obvious point is that corrupted police won't be interested in busting any ped supplying rings.

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  24. Great update: Stuart Miller is even more pitiable to listen to than when reading his verbiage. I guess it's down to that throttling necktie he wears, with the ITF logo on it.

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  25. Djokovic has now explained that his "secret" recovery consists of "a mix of ice and hot baths." http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2013/01/4/Australian-Open-Tuesday2-Diary.aspx

    Good thing he kept that secret, I am sure no other player ever considered ice baths.

    No need for doping, just stop eating gluten, take ice baths and hot showers and you'll be world #1.

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    1. That wasn't even a secret. I think every player on Tour does the same thing after a match, and yet, many of them do not run around like Duracel bunnies on speed.

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  26. Tell me what you all think of Ferrer's performance. Is it just a case of him being up against the better player or do people think he wasn't doping this time around? He seemed to have nothing left in that SF. He played a tough QF (against a player he has owned) but look how Djoker rebounds after grueling matches. I expected a little more from the "Little Beast". I certainly didn't expect him to win but I thought the first two sets would be much closer.

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    1. Ferrer had nothing left and i do not thing he is using doping.
      last couple years he switched his training from 70% hitting 30 physical to 40% hitting 60% physical work out.
      his conditioning was always very good but never superior.
      maybe i'm to naive but i want to believe that "only" 3 players in top 10 are dopers

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    2. I do believe that Ferrer is a doper. I base my opinion on observations of his massive muscle mass and ability to cover the court like a madman. He rarely ever gets tired and only groundstrokes that are super fast seem to get past him. Also, he has many rage issues on court. During his epic battle with Almagro, he repeatedly smashed racuets against his bench in numerous fits of rage. Plus, Ferrer was so quick to speak out against the French tennis federation when they called the numerous Spanish sporting organizations out for rampant doping with their hilarious Nadal puppet sketch.

      I like Ferrer as a person and I model some parts of my tennis game after him since I share roughly the same height as him. I just refuse to admire him as a true athlete because I cannot look past the fact that he is most likely cheating to get where he is. In all defense to David, he is just doing what he is doing because the Spanish sporting organizations support and condone it. I blame their system more so than any individual.

      Some people dope better than others. Djokovic just happens to be the best doper in tennis now. How long will it last? I don't know but we all know that doping does eventually catches up with whoever is willing to risk their overall health for short term fame and money. Just ask Nadal or Armstrong. Both of these guys paid heavy prices physically for being extreme dopers with Nadal suffering major joint problems and Armstrong causing his own cancer.

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    3. "Some people dope better than others. Djokovic just happens to be the best doper in tennis now. How long will it last? I don't know but we all know that doping does eventually catches up with whoever is willing to risk their overall health for short term fame and money. Just ask Nadal or Armstrong. Both of these guys paid heavy prices physically for being extreme dopers with Nadal suffering major joint problems and Armstrong causing his own cancer. "

      amazing words, thanks man

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    4. The only reason I suspect Ferrer is because he worked at TennisVal for several years while Dr. Del Moral was there - and Del Moral has been busted as a doping doctor. In the one or two questions asked about this, Ferrer claims he never met the man which I find highly unbelievable.

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    5. I didn't watch the Djoko/Ferrer match, but this isn't the first time Ferrer has hit a wall in a GS semi. He got equally thrashed by Nadal at RG last year.

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  27. Roger Federer muscle talk (from post-match interview):

    "It's particularly my left arm that's so impressive..."

    Is this some kind of in-joke, I wonder?

    Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE3QK77MDrE&list=PL2RR--XMozwWC-wypSROB74gJ8v2MLmTI&index=39

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  28. "post-match interviews" have been mentioned here a lot so let me add some more:
    djokovic after demolishing ferrer said:"tennis is 90% mental game"

    funny now is "mental game" but few years ago was all physical(all those retirements and medical time-outs)

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    3. Excellent observation. Things are very clear, but very hard to prove. Because of the corruption 'rampant' in sports and everywhere around it, including journalism.

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  29. Rumours saying Zahlavova Strycova may have tested positive. No idea if there's anything to it.

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    1. Flavia Pennetta, Kaia Kanepi, the Czechs Petra Cetkovska, Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Russian Vera Zvonareva - all were unfit for the Australian Open. Or maybe - too fit?

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    2. I remember ESPN tweeting about Vera Zvonoreva "injuring" her shoulder and was like, "yeah right."

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    3. Vera Zvonareva tested 17 times in 2011.

      http://www.ok-magazine.ru/stars/interview/item24829.php

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  30. Murray......130 mph first serves......anyone that has watched tennis knows this guy couldn't average 110 mph until he started working with Adidas......so I have a question: how much did Nike improve Federer's first serve?
    ......this is no public service announcement for Nike but an indictment of Adidias and Andy Murray.......Muarray is such an average-talent that benefits from PED'-fueled power......the guy that complains about drug testing versus the guy that wants more drug testing........Murray is a joke......an average player juiced to the hilt......the juxtaposition of his emaciated face versus his "quadzilla" legs is laughable......the doper vs. the doper in the AO final.......here, ladies and gentleman, your 2013 AO finalists.....Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic....and please keep in mind that it's entirely possible that Federer is doping too...but one has to has himself...it Federer is doping what are Murray and Djokovic doing?

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    1. I agree that it is entirely possible Fed might be doping, but he was clearly playing on fumes that last set. Murray looked like he could go another 5 sets easily. LOL at any commentator (on television or otherwise) who "worries" about Murray's chances against Djokovic in the finals.

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    2. Murray has had that pace of serve for ages, it's hardly new. If anything, he's taken pace off in recent years.

      For example, Wimbledon 2005, his first ever slam: fastest first serve was 132mph.

      His career record is 145mph at San Jose 2007.

      He joined with Adidas at the end of 2009, when he was already world #2.

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    3. Even the ESPN commentators were astounded at the improvement in Murray's serve. I was waiting for them to draw parallels to a recent US Open performance, haha.

      I think the more telling tale is the summits and troughs in this guy's play. From the guy who loses to the likes of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Jeremy Chardy, Jerzy Janowicz (and that was all only last year) to the unstoppable beast at the Grand Slams. Again, remind you of someone?

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    4. BDS, add Donald Young to that roster for some extra Mirth.

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    5. Did somebody hijack swisscheese's account? Murray an average talent?

      This kind of crap is why this cause is still not accepted enough. "Either you are a completely average athlete or you MUST be doping". I am also sold on Nadal and Djokovic taking something but Murray? What is so special about a 25 yo guy outlasting a 31 yo one when the older guy had a 5 setter the match before and Murray didn't even drop a set?

      Murray isn't Djokovic. His improvements aren't down to his physicality. He's been this way since 2008. What's improved is him being a better matchplayer and hitting a much better forehand.

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  31. http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=cs&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http://sport.idnes.cz/zahlavova-strycova-je-podezrela-z-dopingu-fjk-/tenis.aspx%3Fc%3DA130125_105749_tenis_ma&act=url

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  32. Generally, Nadal's serving speeds are brought in as "proof" of doping. The question I wonder, is has anyone looked through analysis of his serves. There is a video that shows the differences in his serve that may demonstrate the reason for his serve speed increase back in 2010 (and yes, the grip change is BS).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GljqJv84tTI

    Then there is this video showing him reverting back to his old serve
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI4_rVX8AiY

    It's not that I don't believe he isn't doping, its that I feel we should be a bit more responsible and level headed when we make statements like "faster serves=doping" Of course, doping could obviously mean more practice serving and thus faster serves. But as I have attempted to show above, technique could also explain the change in serving speeds.

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    1. actually, Nadal's serving speeds are somewhere around 5th on the list of reasons that point to his possibly doping.....we've only been given one explanation by Nadal, himself, and as you pont out his explanation is BS....but I digress

      you state that "it's not that I don't believe he isn't doping,"........that's a double negative...you essentially said "I believe he's doping" but I'll let that slide as I'm pretty sure you wee trying to say that you don't necessarily believe he's not doping......

      Based on your analysis I ask the following.....what "technique" has Murray tweaked in his service motion?....I don't want to argue about Nadal right now....this is about Murray.......let's deal with one at a time......what "technical" change has Murray made?....is his toss more consistent?......is his motion more consistent or tighter? he still looks like he's being pushed from behind on the majority of his serves....his toss is all over the place......yet when he's hot he can he can dominate the best players in the world with pace and pace only.....where did the pace come from?.......better technique?....NOPE.........more strength?.....YEP..........markedly overall increased serving speed without any marked improvement in form from a guy who has been one of the best tennis players in the world for the last 8 or so years.....????......name one other player that has been able to make such vast improvements in their serve speed, without altering their serve motion, in the last ten years........


      Murray should have to wear a jersey with the words "Suspected PED User" on the back.....if you don't suspect Murray then you don't suspect anyone and if you don't suspect anyone you haven't been paying attention.....trying to identify the "most obvious doper" in tennis has become harder than identifying the hollywood actress with the most plastic surgery...damn near imposssilbe.

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    2. Did you bother to watch the video at all? I don't know anything about Murray's serve at all. Just saying that could be an explanation someone else may be interested in either disproving or proving. I don't feel like wasting my time doing so (maybe someone who follows Murray closely can say yay or nay). The video I posted above certainly proved that. And now he's reverted to serving like he used to.

      Ill quote Arf above,

      "Murray has had that pace of serve for ages, it's hardly new. If anything, he's taken pace off in recent years.

      For example, Wimbledon 2005, his first ever slam: fastest first serve was 132mph.

      His career record is 145mph at San Jose 2007.

      He joined with Adidas at the end of 2009, when he was already world #2."

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    3. I don't need to watch a youtube of Nadal's serve to have an opinion that Murray is doping. Why are you even bringing Nadal into the conversation? Where did I even mention Nadal in the first place? You readily admit you don't know anything about Murray's serve at all. So you decided to bring Nadal into the conversation because you didn't know anything about Murray?

      Arf cited 132 and 145 mph "fastest" and "career record" serve speeds as, evidently, evidence that Murray doesn't dope. Forgive me if I can't stop laughing. Stop playing Devil's Advocate and say, for the record, "I think Murray is clean."

      As far as Nadal goes, I can only assume you think Nadal has the "option" of serving lights out but chooses not to. Has there ever been a tennis player on the planet that voluntarily chose to make it harder to hold serve?

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    4. Well he has said it himself, that he doesn't feel comfortable serving that fast, less first serve percentage. But his technique clearly shows he is reverting to a slower serve than the 2010 serve.

      I DON'T THINK MURRAY IS CLEAN! Ask Sen to tell you how many times I check this website per day. (I assume he can probably do that) I've read this website backwards and forwards.

      They all dope. There end of story.

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    5. I'll just address your question: "The question I wonder, is has anyone looked through analysis of his serves. There is a video that shows the differences in his serve that may demonstrate the reason for his serve speed increase back in 2010 (and yes, the grip change is BS)."

      Yes, many people, myself included have looked at Nadal's serve. Indeed, you posted a link to a you tube video where someone is analyzing Nadal's serve, so clearly it has been done.

      However, "service technique" is generally not the primary reason for service speed. Some people say Serena Williams has a "perfect" service motion. Ok, accepting this as true, then why does she serve so much slower then just about every man on the tour? Her fastest serve in a match was 129mph. This is reached routinely by men.

      Also, her service motion is very consistent -- but her serve speeds are not. In the match against Stephens, her fastest serve was 119mph but her average 1st serve speed was 103 meaning that she had numerous serves less than 103 mph. Did she completely change her service motion for the slower serves?

      The same thing for any male player. Rodger Federer has a great serve and is very consistent. Yet against Murray his fastest serve was 127 and his average first serve was 115. Did he completely change his service motion between his "fast" serves and his "slower" serves? You don't need to look at slow motion video to know that the answer is "NO." So, what makes up the 12mph difference between an "average" first serve and a "fast" first serve? What makes the "fastest" women's serve about average for a man?

      The answer is speed/strength. There is no need to look at videos -- the primary driver of your maximum serve speed is your muscles. If you think otherwise, then please have coach Borras and Uncle Toni work with Dominica Cibulkova and have her start hitting serves in at 120 -- it's all just technique, right?

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    6. I'll also comment on Swisscheese's comment: "As far as Nadal goes, I can only assume you think Nadal has the 'option' of serving lights out but chooses not to. Has there ever been a tennis player on the planet that voluntarily chose to make it harder to hold serve?"

      As odd, as it seems, yes, some players do serve worse when they don't need to -- thus making it "harder" to hold serve, primarily due to fewer aces.

      Using Murray as an example, his average 1st serve speed against Federer was 192 kph. However, just a couple days prior when he was playing Simon -- who has basically dead on the court from a prior match, his average was 179 kph.

      The reason is that there was simply no benefit to waste the effort on a burnt out Simon -- even though this may have required that he play a couple extra points on his serve. The burnt out Simon averaged 160kph on his first serve -- less than 100mph, which is basically a WTA serve. (Apparently Simon didn't have the Djokovic secret 'ice bath' recover system).

      However, your point with Nadal is still valid -- Nadal's serve improved in the big matches when he needed it. It was not the case that Nadal was simply serving slower because he was playing easy matches.

      I am just pointing out that when some players have an easy match, they do serve worse and thus make it slightly "harder" to hold serve -- though ultimately this makes no difference in the match. Also, not every player does this. Federer seems to use his best first serves no matter who he is playing.

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    7. No, no, no, MTracy... You, as well as everybody else, seem to have forgotten the crucial factor: those full 1.5, or so, grams of added weight to the racquet-head! Now, apply it to Einstein's General Relativity formula (the one including the curvature of spacetime) and all the data will simply fall into place, all of their own.
      P.S. BDS: the same applies to the latest Slams-Beast you are talking about in your comment above - only, in his case, it's even more subtle, the deciding factor being the presence of Ivan the Terrible, the Grand Master of the Occult Knowledge of How to Win Your First Slam, based on the Secret Quantum Psychology (for more information, look up Deepak Chopra's countless best-selling books at Amazon.com, under "esoterica").
      Oh, well... I guess we all live, but only some of us learn. Such shame.

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    8. @Mel: I agree! Lendl's presence has been crucial for Murray... in getting over the hump. He was no less dominant before against the chumps and wannabes but never had the psychological strength to beat any of the top three at the Slams (with the exception of USO '08, before Nadal became superhuman on hard courts). In fact, I'll post one of my own comments from last year, just after his Wimbledon loss:

      "The difference between Murray and the rest of the Dope Pack is between the ears. He is the perennial choker. If he ever gets over the hump and wins a GS and beats one or both of his Dope Pack brothers along the way, you will see a different player from then on."

      I'm usually not one to say it, but... I told ya so!

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    9. Ah, the general theory of relativity. Einstein said it was E=mc2, but he had it all wrong. Nadal actually proved it is E=c19h28o2 while Djokovic has a separate proof that E=po. Justin Gimmelstob can explain why both can be true at the same time -- something about the quantum psychology you mentioned.

      Spoiler: C19H28O2 is the chemical formula for testosterone.

      Delete
    10. Swiss: "Arf cited 132 and 145 mph "fastest" and "career record" serve speeds as, evidently, evidence that Murray doesn't dope"

      No, I was just posting them counter to your claim that Murray had improved his service speeds since the 09 Adidas deal. Given he was serving at current speeds even in his slam debut in 2005, having just turned 18 a few weeks before, it's clearly not true.

      I checked that in oncourt, which takes the official grand slam stats feeds. You can google though if you want, easy enough to find, eg here's the 145mph from 2007:
      http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/murray-hits-145mph-in-fast-start-to-title-defence-436382.html
      "Murray hits 145mph in fast start to title defence"

      For the record, I assume Murray dopes, and that everyone in the top 20 (ie with the financial capability to do so) does also. That seems to be the general rule in sports that do no drugtesting worth the name.

      Delete
  33. Agassi Opens Up on Tennis, Doping, and More at AO

    http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Headlines/Agassi-Opens-Up-on-Tennis,-Doping,-and-More-at-AO.aspx

    "I would have probably gotten in a fight with him(djokovic) in the locker room before the match. I might have had a chance. Maybe there. I don't know. It's been amazing watching the standard continually sort of get better. You wonder how it's possible, you know, to continue at that sort of rate… It's just a different standard of tennis. It's different rules of engagement when guys can do what these guys can do. "

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    1. Seems more like the typical BS that tennis is getting better and better.

      If the surfaces were as slow as they are right now in the 90s, then the players winning the slams back then would also be more athletic, since it actually helps.

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  34. Murray credits Nadal with making the game more physical and Djokovic says he hasn't had a blood test in six, or seven months. Still, he is happy with the doping program and says that tennis is the "cleanest" sport.

    http://alturl.com/uu27r

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  35. M Tracy: "However, just a couple days prior when he was playing Simon -- who has basically dead on the court from a prior match ... Simon averaged 160kph on his first serve -- less than 100mph, which is basically a WTA serve. (Apparently Simon didn't have the Djokovic secret 'ice bath' recover system)."

    haha. Yes why can't they all learn from Djokovic's "secret" "recovery" system that's taken him from weakling to Divine Ubermann.

    As for Murray, well he's looking stronger than ever in this tournament. A lot of "work" in the off-season? I'm pretty much sold on him now as a PED user I'm sorry to say. Especially as he was so defensive the other day after he beat Haase and Haase said he would never have muscles like Murray no matter how hard he worked. Murray then tells us he's wearing a tighter shirt so it just looks that way. I know Murray can be naturally awkward at times, but why be defensive? I'd just say (as a clean athlete) "hells yeah! I bulked up, cleanly, wanna look? bring on my next match! I want to win the whole Aussie open with my muscles, CLEAN muscles!"

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    1. What a bunch of nonsense. I frequently get nervous even when telling the truth because I know people will be looking at even the smallest things to deduce that I'm lying.

      Seriously, the more I read this blog, the less I am impressed by it.

      Delete
  36. That Neil Harman link doesn't work for me. Any chance for some quotes or a new link?

    Since when did Harman write anything worth reading anyway? :-)

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  37. The Harman link works now but you can only read two paras without logging in. Still, it starts off well...
    _______________________________________________

    CONSIDER this hypothetical sketch. After a four-hour match at the Australian Open, in the searing heat of the day, the winner returns to his hotel room and is infused with blood, boosting his red-cell count.
    He then takes human growth hormone to repair micro-tears in his muscles and returns to the court 48 hours later in a fitter state than he was at the start of the previous round, runs around and wins again. What could tennis do about it? As things stand, the answer is nothing.

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    1. The entire article was available earlier. Main point is that it represents a near 180 by Harman on the doping question.

      He comments on how they underspent the budget, that samples should be stored and retested, and that anti-doping budget should be increased.

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  39. This paper is impressive: at last something that makes sense! Kudos to this blog: without it, such articles would never exist.

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  40. Wow I actually agree completely with Neil Harman! Of course he is 100% correct. I'd like to hear what Jon Wertheim thinks of this article. According to him journalists are not allowed to write about doping. Are not allowed to write, stating facts about doping. What nonsense Jon.

    Of course Stuart Miller - in response to Harman's good point about "The anti-doping budget last year was $US1.8 million ($1.7m) and yet there was a $US300,000 underspend. How can that happen? That would pay for 500 decent blood-doping tests and then the sport would really know where it stood" - would say "the way we spend the budget is a confidentiality issue and not as simple as it seems. Besides, it's confidential".

    Stuart Miller would also say - in response to Harman's quotes about storing samples, that "there is no need to check any past samples. We may as well not have them. Besides, there are confidentiality issues at stake here. Tennis is all about not spending our allocated tiny dope-testing budget (for confidentiality reasons of course) and dope-testing transparency - naturally therefore it's all confidential."

    "Besides," I imagine Stuart Miller to continue, "doesn't anyone know that doping doesn't help tennis players? That getting stronger or recovering quicker is not beneficial for tennis? Tennis is solely about handling pressure on break points. Why players spend all off-season in the gym, doing weights, training, getting fitter, taking ice-baths, and why men and women play on seperate tours, it's all a mystery to me. Because recovery and strength and fitness and off-season work have nothing to do with it. It's all about serving well on break point."

    Anyway, once again, not that you'll ever read this, but darn good article Neil.

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