Monday, February 25, 2013

What the What? (Updated)

Update: Simon Briggs at The Telegraph has interviewed ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti.

Some quotes from Bitti:
"People forget that the money we spend on anti-doping is taken away from grass-roots development, so we have always to balance...

"The Lance Armstrong report put doping at the top of the agenda and created problems...

"We believe we have a good programme...

"We have to protect the integrity of tennis, but our attitude on the sports side is that a positive doping case is a sad day. The attitude of the other side, as we see with Dick Pound, is that it is a celebration. It is a different mentality.
"Tennis should have 2,500 tests run by the ITF on top players and 10,000 run by national bodies on players lower down the pyramid."
If Bitti is serious about national bodies conducting more tests maybe he should strike an agreement with the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) to do testing at events in France like Roland Garros, instead of actively preventing them from doing so. And maybe he should strike similar agreements with the USADA, UKAD, and ASADA.


Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail reports:
"Wimbledon and the other three Grand Slams are to pledge a doubling of their financial contribution to tennis’s anti-doping programme in a major effort to stop potential cheating...

"While not making any public comment, the All England Club have confirmed their intention to offer a 100 per cent increase in funding...

"The specific areas that will be increased will be blood testing, out-of-competition tests in general and the introduction of biological passports, which check for alterations in a player’s blood make-up...

"According to highly-placed sources, the hardest to convince of this path has been the WTA Tour."
The story also notes that the 2012 statistics are "expected within the next week."

Hopefully, the ITF will use this money wisely, such as using it to design a smarter anti-doping program by moving away from predictable loser-targeted testing at Grand Slams. Other improvements would include more in- and out-of-competition EPO and synthetic testosterone tests.


  1. My main question here is: will this mean that the slams have some greater degree of input into the testing program? For instance, would Roland Garros have more pull in getting AFLD involved (if that was the prerogative of the powers-that-be at the French Open)? Will the All England Club have great influence in how its money is spent? You can multiply the funding by 10, but it won't mean a damn thing if all the testing is done ONLY immediately after a match and never on off-days.

    My main takeaway is to see whether the increased involvement (through more funding) from the Slams will lead to meaningful involvement in decision-making regarding the program. If not, none of this matters.

  2. Double of nothing is still nothing.

    1. This is interesting:

      Theory that the Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo's numerous knee injuries later in his career were caused by steroid use as a teenager. The steroids caused him to develop muscles which didn't 'fit' with his body, knee tendons etc, causing injuries.

      Does this remind anyone of any tennis players we know? :)

    2. This article was from 2008, many years ago. The Brazilian FA say nothing but vague comments about the doctor's comments' bad timing. Even respected Socrates (now no longer with us) as much as says that yes it is true.

      The last sentence of the article is telling. It wonders what the soccer-world's reaction to this bombshell will be. Well, not much. This is the first I've heard of it!

      if we think tennis sticks its head in the sand re doping, it's absolutely nothing compares to soccer.

  3. I don't know if you have already read this:

    John Fahey said something who surprised me about doping tests in tennis:

    "Another worry is that sometimes when they take a urine sample they do not tell the laboratory to analyse it for everything[...] EPO, which was the drug of choice, was not being tested for to keep the costs down. I believe that we need to change that."

    So where is the utility to make drugs controls if they don't attempt to detect EPO? Just for statistics? Or maybe just to let people think that they are really doing a serious job and searching cheaters?

  4. Rafael Nadal asks for (published) blood testing

  5. Did Rafael Nadal receive his compulsory loser-test when he was bundled out by Rosol at Wimbledon last year ot did he somehow skip out?

  6. so far this year no HGH no EPO tests
    and guess who is winning .....

  7. Nadal wins the Acapulco final by thrashing Ferrer, conceding only 2 games in two sets. (What a brave effort by Ferrer, who is currently the top-ranked Spaniard - and one of the best in the world on clay.) After Nadal's latest annihilation of an opponent in a claycourt final (last month it was Nalbandian, who gained only two more games than Ferrer did today) who can stomach any more whining about his non-existent knee injuries? I would say he has recovered well from his silent suspension.

  8. I'm sure that Nadal now has a full set of TUEs to compensate for all the substances his body is no longer able to produce on it's own.

  9. I'm just watching the Acapulco final and I can't believe how huge Nadal's arm is. It's three times the size of Ferrer's. And please tell me this guy was actually the injured for 7 months. There is no way. Who actually believes this story? I guess they might as well have the trophies engraved for all the clay tournies now. Nadal is baaaaaack.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. BTW the comms were going on and on about how Nadal and Ferrer are such good friends and how could he do this to his friend? blah blah blah. They also mentioned how it wasn't even a fair fight at which point I took notice. Waiting...waiting... but all they said was that it was a lightweight against a heavyweight. Not a fair fight at all. Indeed.

  11. That Bitti really is a piece of work. The Armstong report didn't bring doping to the public's and media's attention, thus making people aware of the realities of what top-level, big-money sport can fall into. No! Rather, it "created problems". Which problems exactly? Media looking at tennis a bit harder? Seriously Bitti! Oh and tennis has a good program too apparently. That's why even Stuart Miller forced to pay lip-service to the idea that tennis needs a biological passport program. And if HE can, anyone can! Apart from Supremo-clown Bitti!

  12. Having an Italian at the top of anything means you're going to get sleight of hand working at some level. Because that's the way you live and survive in Italian society today and I speak as someone who spends a great deal of time in Italy. Bitti speaks with forked tongue because, as pointed out, if he were that serious about antidoping he'd welcome in other agencies to support the effort rather than fight a turf war over the French Open.

  13. So, the 2012 data was "expected within the next week." It is more than a week later, why am I not surprised it is not released yet?

    In any case, if you do wander on over the ITF's anti-doping site, you will see that it is redesigned and it has removed data prior to 2008. I think I have the old reports saved somewhere -- at least I hope I do. It appears that the ITF simply wants to remove all these files to the "memory hole" so that pesty sites such as this one cannot continue to point out that testing is actually decreasing.

    Anyway, here is the press release where they announce the new website: .

    There are some really cool new cartoons: Apparently, anti-doping control agents now hang out in your bathtub and watch you while you take a shower -- seriously, check out the video.

    Good thing the ITF is spending its scarce resources producing cartoons rather than actually testing anyone.

  14. Federer: 'Naive to think tennis is clean'
    From Leone Lakhani and Tom McGowan, CNN
    March 2, 2013

    "More funding, more blood, more urine, you name it - more funding all across the board," the world No. 2 said."

    "Maybe keep samples as well for a long period of time so you can go back and punish those players. The people, or the players, need to be scared if they cheat."

    1. Federer is the only one among the top players who's been endorsing (i.e., asking for) keeping samples "for a long period of time". In light of this, all the others' statements about the "need for more testing [now!]" have to sound just like "catch me if you can"... Not that it will put off the freaks who appear here on regular bases, trying to equalise the field so as to make the other guys apparently as clean/dirty as he is.

  15. Jean Gachassin (french federation president and ITF vice-president) says controls are insufficient :

    TL : Vous êtes également Vice-Président de L'ITF, comment luttez- vous contre [...] le dopage ?

    JG : [...] Concernant le dopage avec l'ITF on va mettre davantage de moyens pour le dépistage. Je pense personnellement que les contrôles ne sont pas suffisants.

  16. Sen, I see that you are censoring comments. Why?

  17. Ricci Bitti is hilarious. His doping program may not be transparent but at least HE is.

  18. After a meeting on March 5th, Anti-Doping Programme to introduce Biological Passports....

    "The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme Working Group, comprised of representatives of the ITF, ATP, WTA and the Grand Slam tournaments met on 5 March 2013 as part of their regular review of the programme, and expressed unified support to implement an Athlete Biological Passport Programme from 2013. The Athlete Biological Passport provides an individual, electronic document for athletes in which profiles of biological markers of doping and results of doping tests are collated over a period of time that can be used to detect variances from an athlete’s established levels that might indicate doping.

    The introduction of the Athlete Biological Passport will require the TADP to increase the number of blood tests every year. In addition, the Working Group also recommended an overall increase in the amount of testing, especially out-of competition testing, with additional funding provided by all the governing bodies in tennis and administered by the ITF.

    The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a comprehensive and internationally recognised drug-testing programme that applies to all players events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA, and at Grand Slam tournaments. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and, upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed in accordance with the requirements of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and World Anti-Doping Code...."

    I wonder if this will make a difference or if it's just being implemented to convey the message that they are trying to do something? After all, how many times are they really going to administer blood tests? Where are they getting the extra funds to do this?