Monday, September 16, 2013

Cilic: Suspended 9 Months (Update: Cilic to Appeal)

The ITF says it will publish the full decision "in due course":

"The International Tennis Federation announced today that Marin Cilic has been found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in a Player’s Sample).

"Mr Cilic, a 24-year-old player from Croatia, provided a urine sample in association with his participation in the BMW Open event in Munich, Germany. That sample was sent to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Montreal, Canada for analysis, and was found to contain nikethamide, which is a Prohibited Substance under section S6 (Stimulants) of the 2013 WADA List of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods, and is therefore also prohibited under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (the “Programme”). Mr Cilic was therefore charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme.

"Mr Cilic asserted that the nikethamide, for which he did not hold a valid TUE, had entered his system through his ingestion of Coramine glucose tablets that had been purchased on his behalf from a pharmacy.

"The Independent Tribunal found that Mr Cilic ingested the nikethamide inadvertently as a result of taking the Coramine glucose tablets, and did not intend to enhance his performance in doing so, and that he therefore met the preconditions of Article 10.4 of the Programme, which entitles him to a reduction of the Period of Ineligibility for Specified Substance based on an assessment of his fault.

"Mr Cilic’s commission of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme was confirmed, and it was determined that he is suspended from participation for a period of nine months, back-dated to commence from 1 May 2013, the date on which he provided the sample concerned, and so ending at midnight on 31 January 2014. It was also determined that Mr Cilic’s results at the 2013 BMW Open event should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that he won at those events. Mr Cilic’s results subsequent to the BMW Open, up to the time that he accepted a voluntary provisional suspension are also disqualified, and the ranking points and prize money forfeited. A fully-reasoned decision will follow in due course."


When the full decision is released, it will be interesting to plot out the timeline of events. What is interesting at this point is that his suspension is backdated to the date the sample was provided rather than the date when "he accepted a voluntary provisional suspension."

Cilic said in a statement he will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
He said the banned substance came from a glucose tablet purchased at a pharmacy in France.
"Unbeknownst to me, the glucose tablets contained a substance that is banned in-competition (although it is allowed out-of-competition)," he said.
"I wish to emphasise that I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any banned substances in my life and that I am opposed to any use of performance-enhancing substances in sport," Cilic added.



    "Q. Can you just explain a little bit about your decision to withdraw.

    MARIN CILIC: Yeah, well, I started to have difficulties with my knees also during Queen's, but even before, a couple months back it sort of started to come back because I had a major injury with that a year and a half ago.

    Then also during the last week, I was during practice feeling it already. Then on Sunday before my first-round match, felt it really bad in my serve when I would, you know, go down in the motion.

    It was just big pain. But sort of for the match, I was also feeling a little bit, but play through it. Obviously little bit with playing the match and then three sets, and yesterday, I think I felt it much, much worse.

    It was difficult for me to put weight on my left leg, which is where the pain is. So today I had basically no choice to. I can also risk something bigger to play."

    1. Well you can say what a liar, or you can say what else could he do but lie...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. It is the ITF secrecy policy which puts the onus on the player to either "out" himself or lie. If he choses to stay schtum, the player is then considered innocent and guilty at one and the same time - sufficiently innocent that not a word is said by the ITF yet guilty enough to be on a silent ban. It's a farce. If a player fails a test, he has failed a test and that should be announced. That's what happens in a trial. The innocent or guilty verdict comes later.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Puts this a little into perspective as well:

    6. Bum knee - sounds familiar! The most convenient excuse in tennis!

      Now if they already have to lie could they at least come up with something more original next time to keep me entertained?

      All those knee-jerky knee stories floating around...

      Seriously sickening affair - his fabrications during the presser, the most sickening though is a federation that makes these charades possible with their intransparency.

      Cilic needs to apologize for this dishonorable, despicable behaviour of faking an injury and not living up to his responsibility as an athlete to watch what he takes in - it puts him in a really bad light, with the kind help of his truely rotten federation.

      It would have been better if he had grown a pair and admitted what happened straight away. Maybe he was sure he would get away with it? Maybe he knew that other's did previously...

  2. Regular readers probably noticed that I pointed out a month ago that the drug was nikethamide. (See comment on August 19).

    Apparently, this stimulant was also administered to Adolf Hitler to overcome sedation from all the barbiturates. This would clearly make it a fairly powerful stimulant and beyond some type of "herbal remedy."

    Cilic claims he took something known as "Coramine," but Coramine is simply the trade name for nikethaminde. Like Viagra is the trade name for sildenafil citrate. As such, it is not clear how Cilic would not have known that it was some type of drug -- at least to alert him to read the label, which apparently told him it contained a banned substance.

    Hopefully, the ITF will release the full tribunal decision so that we can better determine whether the 9 month suspension was fair. Based on the limited fact in the press release, it is difficult to imagine how this known stimulant was found be taken without any intent to improve performance.

    1. Now you got that right, can you finally tell us what exactly is in Nadal's body?

      It might be long-ass list...

  3. No, Coramine isn't all that powerful. Otherwise you couldn't buy it over the counter in Germany. And in Switzerland Novartis caused a bit of a scandal 7 years ago, because they tried to market it as a kind of lifestyle substance for young people, even teenagers, something like Red Bull. It was pointed out then, that one ingredient was on the doping list, since the marketing was geared towards hobby sportsmen as well.
    I'm even inclined to believe Cilic, since this kind of substance only helps, if you take it right before the match, since it acts as an instant pick me up. So, if an athlet gets tested right after the match, there is no time window for the drug to clear out in time. This kind of thing is easily detectable and thus incredible risky. The benefit for the athlet is really not worth the risk.
    That said, the athlet is responsible for what he puts into his body. Cilic would have had, even unknowingly, benefitted from this substance in this one match, and was thus doped. He will have no chance with his appeal, especially, since his ban was reduced already by the ITF. Cilic simply pays for his stupidity.

    1. It is also illegal for horses to use, and even horses have been banned for taking it. -- The horse came up with some lame excuse that his owner gave it to him.

      The article notes that "Nikethamide is a very dangerous drug for use in a horse because it has a significant possibility of producing adverse effects, including death."

  4. MTracy, you can't compare horses or other animals with humans, because they react differently to certain substances. Chocolate for example or raisins are perfectly fine for us, but some substances in it can kill dogs.
    Anyway, my point is, that the risk/reward calculation just doesn't fit. Unlike EPO, microdosed steroids, HGH etc. those stimulants are only beneficial, when taken before the match. Since they are easily detectable, it's just not worth it. That's, why I'm inclined to believe Cilic, that he didn't knowingly dope with Coramine. But since he's responsible for his body, his appeal probably stands no chance, and rightfully so.

    1. We are talking about different things. First, nikethamide is dangerous to humans and at least one athlete has died while taking the drug.

      However, the issue is not whether he "knowing doped with Coramine." I agree that he did not. The tribunal agreed that he did not. Everyone agreed that he did not.

      The issue is whether he took a substance to provide a "pick-me-up", improve his focus, or provide an energy boost. The fact that these lozenges are sold and marketed as stimulants would indicate that the reason for taking one would be to provide some type of increased energy -- which is performance improvement.

      I covered this topis in detail in another post, so I won't cover a lot of old ground, but let us say he took a laxative that happened to contain nikethamide. This would have been taken to solve a digestive problem, not "improve performance." However, that is not what happened here. The known facts are:

      Cilic took a lozenge that is available over-the-counter.
      Unknown to Cilic at the time he took it, it contained a banned substance.
      Cilic later tested positive for nikethamide.

      The ONLY issue was the purpose he took the lozenge. If it was to provide any type of "engery boost", pick-me-up, stimulation, improved focus, make him not-so-tired, etc. Then the purpose of taking it was to improve performance. There is no need to prove that he knew he was taking a banned substance. We have already established that he did not know, so saying that he really, really, really did not know and would have no reason to know, and even if he did know, he had no reason to take it, and even if he did have a reason, it wasn't a a good one. None of that matters. Seriously. None of it.

      The ONLY thing that matters is whether the lozenge he took was taken to improve his performance. Cilic has the burden to prove that the reason he took it was for something else. Like a laxative, to remove a headache, to get over a hangover, something that does not relate to increased energy. The problem I have is that the only reason to use these lozenges is as a stimulant -- hence their use of sugar in them as well.

      Again, I may be wrong, but I am very interested in reading why they found that the lozenge was not taken to improve performance. As such, there is no reason to look at "risk/reward" because we already established that Cilic did not know he was taking a banned substance. He must prove that his intent in taking this product was something other than performance improvement. Nothing I have read so far makes me believe that.

  5. >The Independent Tribunal found that Mr Cilic ingested the nikethamide INADVERTENTLY as a result of taking the Coramine glucose tablets, and did not intend to enhance his performance in doing so.

    Now give me a break... As atennisfan already pointed out, Coramine is a go-to over the counter stimulant exactly known for containing Nikethamide... So if his mummy got him those, she surely got him into trouble knowingly. And no doubt, he took them advertently - for the advertised benefits: it helps to get some easy energy boost when feeling tired.

    It would be interesting to hear how high his levels exactly were. Also on what basis did the ITF decide not to go for the maximum sentence: a one-year ban? How does one accidentally mistake Coramine for Skittles?

    How exactly was it established that Cilic "inadvertently" took those pills prominently labelled Coramine? How am I to picture this (I know, the ITF doesn't want me to do this) - was it his mom, his drug mule basically, who got him pills he ordered, or was she just shopping around in a foreign drugstore, looking for what exactly? Bringing home some lozanges that accidentally contained banned substances?

    Not to sound too philosophical here, but wouldn't ordering involve some sort of conscious act of knowing what one wants when ordering from his mom? Or did he just say get me some lozanges for, well, for what exactly when it is inadvertently taken anyway? Fellow THASP'ers, do you believe a grown-up pro-athlete, albeit with self-confessed mommy-issues, in his right mind, would take any substance coming from a foreign pharmacy mistakenly?

    Wouldn't your alarm go off immediately?

    This does not add up. And definitely does NOT deserve a reduction of his ban. Especially not dated back to his testing date. Too easy.

    Coramine/Nikethamin has been a WADA listed substance for a long time. It's a classic old-school artificial energy booster and yes, Hitler did also mess with it. On what planet does Cilic live to have not been aware of what Coramine is and more so, claim - without blinking - he mistakingly took pills whose nature was unbeknownst to him. If his mom handed him, say, Chrystal Meth, would he have also taken it in good faith?

    Side note: He seems to trust his mother far too much...

    1. The inadvertent taking of Coramine simply doesn't make sense. Coramine basically IS nikethamide, so if you take Coramine, you take nikethamide. Its not like he took some random foreign lozenges-brand that apparently contained nikethamide. The latter might be possible, especially if in a country where all ingredients are not necessarily on the packaging. In that case, it could be inadvertently taken, although it'd still be dumb to take unknown foreign lozenges....
      Makes me wonder if this press release is accurate, cause now it sounds odd....

      I'm curious to know if there are any other benefits to taking Coramine related to avoid detection of other PEDs....

    2. Silly team_kickass, his mother chewed the tablets for him and then fed him like a baby bird -- that is why he didn't know what was in them!

    3. Obviously he took something that is performance enhancing, but I guess they are trying to say he thought it was not a banned substance, something similar to that red coloured crap Nadal squeezes out of a tight plastic bag down his throat. No?

  6. Let's not forget Bob Brett:

    ""He [Cilic] said he had tested positive...The one thing I found out was that he tested positive for high glucose...One of the people in his team bought it in a pharmacy – basically what you've been reading in the papers. Some people will say he made a mistake. But it was carelessness."

    So the test was not really for high glucose, as Brett offered, but instead for a susbstance on the WADA doping list. Brett claimed it was one of his people - when now all of a sudden it was his mom. Yet, he was already 100% sure it was all a matter of personal carelessness...

    @ MTracy I do agree that it gets difficult to explain why he thought it was NOT taken to boost performance. For afterall, it was Coramine with some glucoses. For what else would one take it? The effect is pretty straight up- how did he end up confusing it, also for what, then? So to me this reads as he knew what he was doing. Despite adding the part of the mother/agent to it. Unless he comes up with something like "while I was sleeping my dog mixed Coramine with my Froot Loops" (the tennis equivalent to "the dog ate my homework") I don't see why he could claim "inadvetently". Unless that word means something totally different from what it means to most of us...

    1. auto-correct: it should read "inadvertently" in the second to last line

  7. Update:

    Interesting, he has been hooked to that stuff for a while - dietary supplement... my ass!

    "The ITF acknowledges that the nikethamide came in a packet of Coramine glucose tablets, a dietary supplement that Cilic had been using regularly and which in the form he normally took did not contravene the Wada code."

    Hmmm. But Coramine comes always with Nikethamide, in fact, it IS Nikethamide. Unless there is a some other pill named Coramine... sounds not likely tbh.

    "According to Croatian sources, Cilic’s supply ran out during the Monte Carlo Masters in March.

    He sent his mother down to the pharmacy to buy another packet, but did not realise that the French version of the product contained different chemicals. "

    ----> drug mule mom...I will need to check this - can there be a drugged varaint of Coramine that is otherwise an impotent placebo with ONLY sugar in it?

    Regarding masking agents/@ Robert

    "But it is not known to have any masking properties, so it seems unlikely that he was engaged in any doping programme related to steroids or human growth hormone, the compound which many experts believe is the greatest threat to tennis’s integrity. "

    Regarding the levels (which seems to have been taken into account to reduce the ban):

    "It is also understood that the levels in Cilic’s system were low, so low that he would probably have passed his urine test, which was held at Munich’s BMW Open on April 1, if he had taken it a day later."

    1. Yeah, my BS meter is really going off the chart on this one. He was taking "glucose" as a "dietary supplement." Because, you know, sugar is so hard to come by in foods these days.

      Then, he is having a "sugar fix" but ran out of his favorite "glucose supplement." Rather than sending his mother to the market to say, get some some fruit that would have plenty of glucose, she goes to the pharmacy. Because I usually go to a pharmacy when I need sugar -- not like they sell that stuff by the bound in a supermarket.

      Then, she has to read through all these french labels, because no one is going to market a product called "Glucose." It has going to be some trade name, but she has to be looking at the ingredients of every single one to make sure it contains this much needed "glucose."

      Luckily, she stumbles across this stuff called "Coramine glucose tablets." Fortunately, she wasn't in the pesticide section or she might have found some rat poisoning that also contained glucose. Then, she doesn't just hand the packet to baby Cilic, because then the label would be right in front of him. Instead, she opens it and individually hands him the supplements.

      In addition, Cilic normally took these "Coramine glucose tablets," but they were permitted under the WADA code -- because they were taken out of competition. So, now he is saying he knew exactly what he was taking, but it was ok because it was out-of-competition, but somehow he didn't know what they contained when he took them during a competition? How does this fit with his defense that he didn't know he was taking Coramine. The tribual accepted that he didn't know he was taking Coramine, and now, if this reporter is to be believed, he is claiming that he specifically knew he was taking Coramine as a "dietary supplement," but knew it was fine because it was out-of-competition.

      I guess we can just wait for the full decision, because nothing is making sense here.

    2. @ MTracy

      >In addition, Cilic normally took these "Coramine glucose tablets," but they were permitted under the WADA code -- because they were taken out of competition. So, now he is saying he knew exactly what he was taking, but it was ok because it was out-of-competition, but somehow he didn't know what they contained when he took them during a competition?


      All these obvious inconsistencies. How embarrassing! Shame on you Cilic, really.

      He needs to make a clean sweep, this is now reaching a totally unacceptable level of bs on my already maxxxed out bs-in-tennis-meter...

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I'm struggling to get my head around this.....

    Out of all the current designer PEDs available to a guy with millions in the bank, he chooses to ingest a substance that's been on a banned list for almost half a century? In 1972, Jaime Huélamo was DQ's from the Olympics after testing positive for coramine.

    Since mountain climbers use this to combat effects of altitude, I have to conclude it is enhancing. But why would anyone nowadays use this and think they could get away with it in competition. I'm bewildered. I need more facts.

    It is drummed into the pros that they can never, ever, ingest supplements without checking the contents, but he just swallows some pills? Cilic was not on my doping radar, but even if he was doping to gain an advantage, why would he think this was a smart strategy?

    I'm at a loss.

  10. Now Pat cash thinks tennis is boring these days:

    “There’s an argument that this generation of men’s tennis is boring and I think it’s a valid one,” Cash wrote. “It’s not boring to see two great players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic compete in a final. What is getting mundane is watching the same tactic in every single match of every single Grand Slam for the last five or six years. Nowadays they all settle down and say ‘OK, this is going to be two hours of baseline rallies.’ The guy who outlasts the other one wins. It’s taken a lot of the skill out of tennis.”

    Wait, there is less skill in tennis..? Does that mean, in reverse, there is more chances for doping then???

    He spills out more wisdom:

    “They are not better all-round players than the likes of Boris Becker or Pete Sampras. Boris and Pete were baseline players, they were attacking players and they could do it against baseliners like Mats Wilander or Andre Agassi,” Cash said. “Now that was entertainment. You never knew which way it was going to go. Nadal and Djokovic are exceptional athletes, there’s no doubt about it, but to say they are better athletes than past greats like Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg is just nonsense. This is some crap drummed up by somebody and I think it’s an insult to past players. Modern players don’t dive around the net, they don’t deliver backhand smashes, they don’t have to twist and turn like past generations. Could modern players do that? We don’t know. What we do know is that they are incredibly good at retrieving shots from the back of the court.”


    1. Tsonga did an interview with L'Equipe on Sept 16 and this part stood out to me:

      It's complicated for me. I'm not going to pretend otherwise. It's really a bit sad because I train like crazy. I'm an animal physically, but that's not how I'm going to beat the top 2-3. I've tried to see just how far I can go. But there's a point where my body says to me "You're a nice guy, but this isn't possible."

      I can't go 5 sets with those guys without it affecting my health. I'm not on the same planet as Nadal and Djoko. Their level never drops, so I have to beat them quickly.

      I have to be explosive. I have to change the way I work. I have to be quicker, pack more punch, move forward, hurt them.

      What I learned with Roger has stayed with me. I know I can stay in rallies if I have to. It's one more option for me, but I can't do it better than they can.

      If I reach the end of my career without attaining my dreams, at least I've tried everything possible, explored everything. If I don't succeed, it's because I wasn't good enough, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm most proud of doing everything I could with my head held high. I don't know many who've had a herniated disc at 19, then made the top 10.

      Full translation at:


      Take from that what you will.

    2. I think he was referring to Roger Rasheed.

    3. Thanks Icarus.

      He seems to be very on point with his analysis concerning his bodily limits. I appreciate this honesty, for it clearly states that for some reason certain players have reached a level that can not be matched by him no matter how hard he tries. For what reasons we may speculate.

      I personally prefer interviews where athletes talk openly about those limits and accept them rather than take to means that can only be illegal. The game of Nadal as well as Djokovic is really about transcending these limits and turning their body into a bio-mass that can be overcome by all means possible. Which might include means illegal to the game.

      I was wondering regarding that Rasheed split, but this now really confirms some of my own thoughts: Rasheed was trying to squeeze the very last bit out of him to turn him into a stamina monster that survives baseline-duells (54 shot rallies) which, in fact, he is not - and never will be - unless maybe he is aided by means that corrupt the ethics of the game. That appears to be the very last boundary he is hinting at here, he is not willing to cross.

      As a disclaimer, this is not saying he is a lamb among wolves...

    4. Good interview link Icarus.Tsonga says in a nutshell what Pat Cash stated. This is a game of endurance, skill be damned. It's a pity that tennis has turned into a grindfest on almost all surfaces. One truly has to dope to knock off the top 2 guys at any tourney.

    5. Yes Team_Kickass, I myself wondered about his split with Rasheed, after all before he pulled out of Wimbledon he had made the QFs at Austraila and the SFs at Roland Garros. That qualifies as a success to me but yet they decided to call it quits.

      Also remember when Tsonga spoke about doping and Omerta in Tennis? :

      Q : If, one day, a doping scandal would involve a tennis star...

      Tsonga: (He cuts.) Whatever is happening right now, it is very hard to speak. We see that with the cyclists. Now we're telling them that it's easy to speak afterwards. But before, you can't! If you say the tiniest little thing, you get butchered like crazy. Nobody wants to expose himself.

      Q : But if one day we discover that you have been cheated of a title by a doped player, will you have the impression that your career will have been stolen?

      Tsonga: : That is the question and that is why today I'm not comparing myself to others anymore. Because you never know what is going on elsewhere. You've got your own career and then what? That's why for us it's sometimes hard to hear: he lost again... Armstrong, this guy, he stole everybody! And the other cyclists behind him, after all, they were also extremely good! They got dragged in the mud because they were not good enough? That's laughable. All in all, it's a lot like the world himself... (Smile). THE CHEATING ALWAYS STARTS AT THE TOP.

      Tsonga knows what most suspect. But like you said this doesn't make him a lamb among wolves (in your words)

    6. More food for thought, this time a Gulbis snippet from an interview:

      „Vor einiger Zeit hatte ich Niki Pilic als Trainer, der sich an Zeiten erinnerte, wo die Spieler keine Ärzte und Physiotherapeuten hatten. Zu dieser Zeit war es fast immer so, dass die talentierteren Spieler gewonnen haben. Heutzutage macht harte Arbeit um die 70 bis 80 Prozent der Ergebnisse aus.“

      "I was working with Pilic some time ago, he still remembered a time where players had no physios or doctors. During that time the more talented players pretty much always won. Nowadays, hard work accounts for 70-80 percent of the results."

      "Hard work" seems yet another code word we need to add to our (looong) list that hints at/covers up the possibility of doping.

      German source:

  11. Hmm, what's this:

    1. "Eyes on tennis players
      ATTENTION. Specialists surrounding athletes whisper sports’ next druggy PED swamp would/could/should envelop tennis. Maybe being the highest genteel-est of the rough-and-tumble games, sort of a gentleman’s or gentlewoman’s pursuit, those players are least checked. However, their primary urine testing isn’t failproof since substance can disappear in a short period. Medical professionals are citing definitive body changes in certain players. Just telling you what I’m told."

      Original Source Bodo based his article on: (An entertainment blogger!)

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.