Monday, September 23, 2013

Game Over

The Cilic Decision is out. Only one excerpt is necessary:
"He [Cilic] played and won his first round match at Wimbledon on 24 June. He has not played in a competitive match since. On 26 June his lawyers in Brussels responded on his behalf, voluntarily accepting a provisional suspension until a decision in the case, and waiving his right to analysis of the B sample. He withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a knee injury to avoid adverse publicity."
He lied. How many other times have players told this lied to the media and fans? What do the governing bodies of tennis have to say about these lies?

"[Pedro] Munoz, the former Spanish federation president, said in an interview in Madrid last week that “many times” tennis authorities have kept cases secret.
"He said he travelled with a Spanish player, whom he declined to identify, to an ATP hearing in Paris after the athlete tested positive for a drug he took to help heal a shoulder injury in the late 1990s. The men’s tour fined the player the equivalent of about 5,000 euros ($6,700) and never made the test result public, according to Munoz." 


Cilic is denying that he faked a knee injury:
'Cilic said that he had "already developed a significant knee injury before Wimbledon and aggravated it during my first round match.
'Stressing that he was "nonetheless very keen to continue playing" at the tournament he was then "advised that there was a possibility that my results at Wimbledon could be wiped out depending on the result of my case."
'"It no longer made any sense for me to risk causing my knee a more serious injury and to deprive someone else the opportunity of playing deeper into the tournament.
'"I therefore took the painful decision to pull out of Wimbledon and to accept a voluntary suspension pending the determination of my case."'
Some comments were inadvertently deleted while I was attempting some housekeeping. Apologies.


  1. Funny that he choose the "knee injury"... Just like Nadal?

  2. You read this thing and you are just left scratching your head. First, I'll address THASP's question: "What do the governing bodies of tennis have to say about these lies?"

    Well, that is found on 3 noting "[Cilic] is an honest and truthful man." So, the whole lying about being injured was now "honest and truthful."

    Ok, but getting to the real issue -- Cilic admitted that he had his suspicions about these "glucose" tablets. In fact, he even took a cell phone photo of the package and sent it to his trainer to ask him it if was safe. The trainer told him that it was.

    Essentially, the case should be over at this point. He relied on his trainer, and his trainer was wrong. The WADA code is quite clear that this will not provide any type of mitigation, as a player is responsible for all advice he receives from anyone and is responsible for all substances put in his body. In fact, the code has a whole section of comments devoted to similar situations. It notes that "the administration of a Prohibited Substance by the Athlete's personal physician or trainer without disclosure to the Athlete" will not result in a reduced suspension under Rule 10.5.1 (or 10.5.2). Although Cilic primarily argued that this was under Rule 10.4 because this was a Specified Substance, it would not make any sense to allow trainers to be blamed for "Specified Substances" when they are not blamable for "Prohibited Substances."

    In addition, while we don't have a picture of the package, we know that "It had clear writing on it with the work 'Coramine' in upper case letters and the word 'Glucose' in lower case letters." (Paragraph 25). A simple "google" of Coramine will clearly show that it is a banned substance -- and you don't even have to speak French. But, no need to use Google. The package itself contained a clear warning that "Anyone reading the side of the packet or the leaflet, even with only very limited knowledge of French, would easily have identified the danger for an athlete with anti-doping responsibilities." Ok, so he sent a picture of this package to his trainer but didn't see the label that said, "Sportifs: Attention" in big bold letters?

    Then, the tribunal tries to physchoanalyze Cilic and notes the report of a psychiatrist that "[the player's] mental state was adversely affected by interpersonal stress and conflict leading to poor concentration and a degree of cognitive impairment which adversely affected his attention to detail in checking the labeling..." So, now "interpersonal stress" is a valid reason to dope. Gee, Lance Armstrong was under a lot of stress from people accusing him of doping all the time, so he just didn't bother to ask what was in those needles.

    1. Curiously, the ITF also made a completely illogical argument. First, the ITF (rightly) said that Rule 10.4 should not apply because Cilic did not prove a "lack to intent to enhance sport performance." (Paragaph 52). However, the ITF then agrees that if 10.4 does not apply, 10.5.2 (No Significant Fault of Negligence) would. However, see above and the comments for 10.5.2 that clearly states that athletes are responsible for all mistakes or actions taken by the trainers, even if the trainer does not tell the player about them. How the ITF determined this would apply is beyond belief.

      The tribunal than accepts that the substance was not taken to ehance performance, but was instead taken to "help the player's body absorb creatine, a non-prohibited substance." The legal reasoning is rather long, but couldn't you just was well justify EPO because it is used to "help the player's body absorb oxygen, a non-prohibited substance." (I know EPO is a Prohibited Substance and thus not applicable, I am just saying the reasoning would be applicable to almost any drug because the end result of building muscle, absorbing oxygen, etc, will always be legal.)

      The tribunal clarifies that the suspension is back dated under 10.9.2 which allows for the period of ineligibility to start "as early as the date of Sample collection." This applies when the player admits the anti-doping rule violation.

    2. Let's not forget that he already googled nikotinamid in 2011... you wonder what for!

      ITF = the worlds most naive and easy-to-fool set of people to still walk on this earth.

      The psychiatrist bit - simply priceless! I posted the relevant excerpts below - makes you want to weep and bang your head at the same time. Everybody needs to read that and tell me they think this is evidence...

    3. Excellent summation.

      The ITF usually bends over backwards to accept the excuses given by players. It's pretty rare that they stick with the long-term suspension or ban.

      Cilic's excuses are ridiculous of course, no surprise that the ITF bought it. First he blamed his mother. now he blames his trainer. It's everyone's fault but his.

    4. @ Seeya

      It seems as if they engage in some strange competition, outdoing each other in absurdity. The more unlikely your excuse, the more willing the ITF is to accept it.

      Otoh, if you would simply dare to tell the truth, they would be like: no no no, you must be lying, this sounds totally far fetched...

  3. In a prior post, I stated that I couldn't get to grips with this situation, and wanted more information.

    It was clear that he had allegedly (then), ingested a banned substance in a supplement, "unknowingly" (jury still out), which every athlete knows results in a locked-in ban, since ignorance is no defense.

    I still just didn't understand why he felt he could fight this (apart from PR), or why he would dope this way.....puzzled. Did he just chow down on this in practice, to improve his training, but get caught out in competition 'cos he stopped too late???? If he did indeed take it to enhance performance, it was an amateur move....

    His 'defense' is risible. That psychiatric opinion.... I have no words. The legal obfuscation quagmire... I'm similarly speechless. He's clearly paying his lawyers to explore every avenue..

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  7. pt. 1
    A couple things regarding that sham of an independent ITFs decision:
    Ironically listed under "The Facts" you will find an apologetic text, worthy to become a mini-series/court-room drama. From reading it, it makes you go grab a tissue instantly...
    "He is a Croatian citizen. He is an honest and truthful man. We accept that his opposition to doping in sport is genuine and heartfelt, that he has never knowingly taken a banned substance and that he is genuinely sorry for his inadvertent ingestion of nikethamide. His evidence to the Tribunal was full, frank and accurate, as was that of all the witnesses who gave oral evidence."

    ---> so what exactly did he say that convinced them it was indeed "inadvertent"?
    ---> That entire section about his life reads like a cheesy lifetime movie, really and apologetic from the start, citing his background and giving him credibility when in fact they could have cited his two missed tests... Why would you generally trust someone in being strictly anti-doping when you know that...

    "He estimates that he has been tested more than 50 times, always with negative result apart from in the present case."
    "He now speaks fluent English, and knows a little French but not enough to hold a conversation."
    Je voudrais un paquet de Coramine, s'il vous plait. Ça fait combien? Merci!
    Thats pretty easy, even with beginner-level french, no?

    "The player has for some years received advice on nutrition and diet from the Croatian Olympic Committee (“NOC”), which provides vitamins and supplements free of charge which, the NOC advises, are safe to take. These do not include glucose, which can be obtained from ordinary shops in Croatia such as the chain store “DM”, where it is sold alongside foodstuffs in powder or tablet form under the name “Traubenzucker”, a German word meaning “grape sugar”, also denoting glucose."
    So he went to a French pharmacy and wanted Traubenzucker/ dextrose, but somehow ended up getting Coramine...

    It is getting more interesting, confirming that he has been using it for a long period:

    "The player became aware, from reading the words on the package, that the glucose product he used, Traubenzucker, had listed among its ingredients (in Croatian) a substance called “nikotinamid”. Online research at Google and Wikipedia in around February 2011 taught him that nikotinamid was harmless; he has since, moreoever, tested negative many times while taking powdered glucose containing nikotinamid, so it is not surprising he regarded it as harmless from an anti-doping perspective."

    Nikotinamid is the the metabolite of Nikethamine - so was he already googling what could be possibly found in his urine during a test? This seems weird, for if we believe he took stuff in good faith, why google in the first place and why google an advanced product of the Nikethamin metabolism instead of the original substance? As I understand it, the metabolite is what is being detected long after the original substance is gone out of your system. The detection window for the metabolite is 12 hrs. Was Cilic googling that to be on the safe side?
    Also, this does not add up - so why would a Croatian product which goes under the German name - (which is common for Serbo-Craotian incorporated quite a few German loanwords) list the metabolite on it, when in fact Nikethamide was what he was taking, accidentally, as he claims.

  8. pt. 2
    So apparently the Croats were guilty, giving him also some creatine to combat his drop of form in December 2012 (=off-period, were tests are rarely conducted)

    "At about this time the player began to take creatine, on the advice of Mr Hrvoj. Creatine is a permitted substance used to boost energy levels over time. It is sandy and unpleasant in taste and texture. He took it with glucose powder, partly to make the creatine less unpleasant to ingest and partly because Mr Hrvoj advised that glucose helps the body to absorb creatine."

    So he also owns an apartment in Monte Carlo - which means he lives there and must have been there before and probably must have bought glucose powder at some point before... this is what I would assume -not however the ITF.
    Now enter the mother:
    "At some point between 15 and 18 April, he realised his supply of glucose powder was low and asked his mother, Mrs Koviljka Čilić, to buy some more."
    "He knew there was none at the local supermarket, and suggested a pharmacy about 800 metres from the apartment. His mother knew the pharmacy and had shopped there before for medicines."

    Now add language barrier troubles:
    "Mrs Čilić speaks no French and showed the word “glucose” written on a piece of paper. The pharmacist took a packet from the shelf and placed it on the counter. Mrs Čilić said twice that it was for her son who plays “tennis professional”, getting no reaction due to the language barrier."

    Enter Reeeechard:
    "He then played his next match on 18 April, losing to Richard Gasquet. It was obvious to him that his parents and his coach were not getting on well and this was a source of stress for him, made worse by his defeat on the court that day."

    More strange occurances but a conviction at the end:
    "A French speaking man helped with translation. She heard him use the words “tennis professionel”. The pharmacist moved the packet towards Mrs Čilić, which she took as an indication that the product was safe and contained no banned substance. She knew that her son was subject to anti-doping rules and had to be careful what he took. Convinced by what she had seen and heard, she bought the packet, took it to the apartment and left it in the kitchen."

  9. pt. 3

    It gets bizarrer... If my regular glucose tablets would suddenly be named Coramine and come in an unfamiliar shape, all my bells would start ringing and I would definitely read that leaflet inside - even with broken French - dopage is easy to spot, no?

    Also, this is full of errors: sucer? sucre is what he meant.

    "He looked at the front of the packet and saw the French word “sucer”, which he thought meant sugar (šećer in Croatian). He noticed that only two ingredients were listed. He thought that “nicéthamide” was the same as nikotinamid, which he knew to be harmless."

    Uh huh.

    More bizarre behaviour to follow:

    "He did not read the side of the packet, did not do any internet research into the word “Coramine” or “nicéthamide”, did not seek medical advice, did not contact the telephone helpline number on his wallet card, and made no further enquiry about whether the product was safe to take from an anti-doping perspective. It did not cross his mind that it might be unsafe. He took a photograph of the front of the packet and sent it to Mr Hrvoj, asking whether it was alright to take it, i.e. whether it would be effective, given that the dose of glucose was so small."

    The whole decision is based on the assumption that players/ Cilic would in fact try to avoid using Nikethamide/PEDs andwas just plain ignorant to not have checked and googled around what Coramine is. The ITF is truely upset that they did not make use of their awesome wallet card and help-hotline. But it neve occurs to them that Cilic or his Croat trainer damn knew what it was he took.

    To them it's only a matter of being careless...
    Notice also they claim he stopped taking the pills five days prior to the match - which would make this OOC and not performance enhancing. How convenient! And from the detected trace (66ng/ml) they infer: "We now know from the subsequent laboratory analysis that when the player played that match, a trace of nikethemide remained in his body. We accept the uncontested evidence of Professor Peter Sever, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Imperial College, London, that the player’s performance was not thereby enhanced."

    When the doping control picked him:
    "He declared aspirin and some vitamin supplements on the form, but not creatine, though he had declared creatine before when completing doping control forms."
    Why is not declaring creatine not an indicator?

    Also, why is he also throwing Bob Brett under the bus, citing tensions and performance troubles?

    Also this amazing crap from a psychiatrist, Dr. Humphries:
    "… at the time of the incident with the glucose tablets [the player]’s state of mind was one of anxiety, acute stress, and what is called dysphoria, which is a form of negative mood state encompassing symptoms of depression and irritability. … he could not ‘see the wood for the trees’. … I am of the opinion that [the player]’s mental state was adversely affected by interpersonal stress and conflict leading to poor concentration and a degree of cognitive impairment which adversely affected his attention to detail in checking the labelling of some glucose tablets brought by his mother."

    I could go on, but I would recommend you read that decision for yourself. It's priceless! Also, does anybody with some biochemical knowledge know if 66ng/ml really means he stopped five days prior to his match?

    1. I'll point out that the USADA had an almost identical doping case and handed down a 2 year ban.

      The reason it is of interest is that the label was also in French, was the exact same name, and had the exact same amount of Coramine. In the USADA case, the athlete admitted to taking 2 tablets the day of competition and the USADA somehow confirmed that this was consistent with the trace amounts found -- they don't describe how the laboratory reached this result.

      However, given that nikethamide has a biological half-life of 30 minutes (this is not a radioactive half-life, this is the time it takes your body to metabolize 1/2 of the drug in your system.), it is unlikely that someone would test positive 5 days later. In any case, the ITF could have used the same technique to prove Cilic was lying about when he had taken the tablets but the chose not to. I won't get into all the math, but even 66ng/ml of urine would require the ingestion of more than a tonne of Nikethamide 5 days prior. It decays in the body just too quickly for really any amount to be left around after 1-2 days.

      Even if all he had was the 66ng in his body -- ever, and it all just happened to come out in this one urine sample that was only 1ml of urine, he still would have needed tonnes of it in his system 5 days prior to get to 66ng at the time of the test. ( lists half-life as 0.5 hours). On the other hand, assuming the same rather generous set of fact, he would get back to 0.125 grams (the amount in 1 tablet) about 9 hours prior to the test. So, safe to say, he took the tablet less than 9-10 hours prior to the test -- the extra hour is to digest the 0.125g into his blood system. More realistically, he probably had 250ml of urine, and this gets him there 6 hours prior to the test.

      But Cilic is an honorable man. So are they all. All honorable men. So, the laws of physics must be wrong, and oh, yeah, he really does have a knee injury.

      As a note, I thought they tested for some metabolite of nikethamide, but reading the the decision, apparently that was the actual amount of nikethamide that was in his urine. Obviously, if it is a metabolite, it could change the calculation, but even then, the mass of the metabolite would be proportional to the original substance and there is just no way you can get anywhere close to 5 days..

    2. Excellent posts TK and MT. They show up the tribunal decision's absurdity in a critical-analysis sort of way that the ITF and Stuart Miller would never ever dream of doing.

    3. @MTracy

      Nice that you chip in that knowledge regarding half-time of Nikethamide - I only found this study ( tested on horses.

      Summary: "It is well known that nikethamide (N,N-diethylnicotinamide, CoramineR) is metabolized very rapidly to nicotinamide. Hence, there is difficulty in proving that nikethamide has been used as a doping substance because nicotinamide is a normal physiological metabolite in the organism as well as a vitamin preparation. However, an intermediate metabolite (N-ethylnicotinamide) was found by us in the urine of horses treated with CoramineR. "

      So I am assuming the ITF must have tested for the metabolite. In the highly unusual case they did test for Nikethamide,Cilic really must have swallowed a lot very shortly before the match...maybe even during the match... and no way in hell would he have stopped 5 days ahead of the match. Not realistic!

      I would like to see WADA check on this decision, in particular how WADA feels about how those levels got explained away by that "Professor Peter Sever, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Imperial College, London". That would be interesting.

      Also the crucial bit seems to be the ITFs overtly generous willingness to establish the ingestion date PRIOR to the match (5 days), which conveniently makes it OOC and ergo not enhancement. The decision goes through great pains methinks to establish that, while, when only looking at the actual levels they don't support that.

      Generally speaking, there is much suspense of disbelief in that decision. To name but one example: why would you assume that a player who lists Monte Carlo as his place of residence and owns OWNS an apartment there (since when, btw) has zero level of French? I mean, srsly, even Nadal managed to produce some casual French during the FO post-win on court interview. The Djokbot speaks perfect French - he too has his residence in MC... I find their "lost in translation" excuse frankly BS.

      Why would you scribble "glucose" on a note - when instead you have been using a German brand all along: Dextro Energy? Would you not write that down instead?

      I think our French readers (cher Astérix, paging you!) might be able to confirm that the brand name is the common name which is being used when buying "Traubenzucker". And not glucose... Unless you simply bought Coramine and the other stuff is simply elaborate fabrication ;)

  10. If Cilic had been found "not guilty" by the tribunal, then no announcement of the failed test would have ever been made public (probably).

    In this particular case, however, the positive result was leaked, making it much more difficult for the tribunal to find Cilic "not guilty."

    So, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the positive test had never been leaked and that the tribunal had found Cilic "not guilty." The voluntary provisional suspension would have been characterized as a knee injury in the press and no one in the general public would have ever known that there was a positive test or a doping investigation or a tribunal.

    My question is: What would WADA do under the above hypothetical circumstances? Would WADA have been informed of the positive test? Would WADA have been informed of the "not guilty" decision of the tribunal? Could WADA bring its own action against a player in this situation (after being found "not guilty" by the tribunal)? If so, would WADA bring its own action against such a player?

    Assuming that WADA would not choose to do anything (or that WADA would be unsuccessful if it did try to do anything) under these circumstances, this would appear to be how a "silent ban" can be accomplished.

    One might argue that it was not a ban because it was voluntary. However, if the "not guilty" decision was granted in exchange for a "voluntary" ban, then it could be seen as coerced, rather than voluntary. I suspect that those involved would state that such quid pro quo (this for that) exchanges are never made with players. However, this whole matter doesn't pass the smell test, so I would need a lot of high quality evidence to believe such denials. After all, we have a proven liar in this case, and the authorities did not correct the record when the player lied. So, neither the players nor the authorities are trustworthy.

    We need many more of these leaks.

    1. As I understand it, WADA does indeed have the right to appeal that decision. And yes, they get notified when a positive sample is collected.

      Yet from what we know, this has never happened, am I right?

    2. Pretty much, if the positive result hadn't leaked, Cilic would probably still be selling the "knee injury" excuse and when he returned it would be all about how he spent the time off "rehabbing" the knee.

      Thank goodness for leaks or else the ITF would have just swept this result under the rug and the 'Cilic is injured" canard would have continued.

      This is why myself and so many others are convinced that there is such thing as a "silent ban" for players who test positive.

    3. Well look at Troicki too, if he had been able to contact his buddy Stuart Miller by speed dialling from his mobile phone, as he attempted to, then he never would have had to excuse himself for not giving a blood test because Stuart Miller would've told him it was not necessary after all.

      Can you believe this people, think about it, what sport's anti doping authority should have the reputation of being able to be called up when the player has to do a blood test, in order to get out of it? Miller clearly has a shocking reputation even amongst the players. (Well, probably a "good" reputation amongst some of the players).

    4. No, this case is a little different. There was no way for Cilic to be found "not-guilty" because he pled "guilty." He admitted the doping violation -- officially. The purpose for doing this was to allow the back dating of any suspension.

      As such, this was a sentencing hearing. The minimum sentence was a reprimand. That maximum a 2 year suspension. But, in either case, it was a rules violation and would have to be announced.

      So, at least in this case, there was no reason for the lie, no reason to keep it quiet, and no possibility that it would not be disclosed. Of course, on the date Cilic withdrew from Wimbledon, he had not yet pled guilty and may have no known he had would do so at that time. (See Paragraph 5 "The player accepted the commission of the doping offense but submitted that he did not intend to enhance his sport performance...")

      As such, the ITF has just further confirmed that its policy is illogical, not thought out, and is completely stupid in cases such as this where the player admits the violation and will always have some type of public discipline, even if only a reprimand.

    5. Feels weird to say I support "leaks" when it comes to urine, but I certainly do ;)

  11. More comedy gold, this time involving fake penises...

    Btw, he came in last...

    1. that fake penis thing was used in a movie once. I wish I could remember what it was.

  12. No doubt Cilic's newly diagnosed mental health problems will lead to a shopping list of drugs being added to his TUEs.

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  15. And this goes out to all those who tout the "tennis-is-skill-based" argument:

    If it would be mostly skill-based, rather than fitness based, why would one take Creatine, to which Cilic admited to, as we found out from reading the decision?

    Creatine, an allowed supplement, is known for boosting one's elasticity/springiness as well as endurance. It increases muscle growth and power, particularly in the important oxidative Type I muscle fibers. It is recommended for endurance-based sports such as runners and generally it allows you to train harder, increase the frequency as well as intensity for it increaases the energy transport in your cells. According to Cilic's story, mixing Creatine with "glucose powder" was his standard ever since his results had gotten poorer.

    Creatine is allowed under the WADA code, I am not debating that, but when a player like Cilic feels he needs to boost his endurance, as very likely many others do, who also resort to taking Creatine, possibly even going further by using other available means to boost that particular aspect of their game, it is fair to say, that, apart from the obvious technical skills which are needed, there is evidence to support the argument that fitness has become the key for any player with the current style of tennis we are seeing. He obviously felt compelled to do that in order to keep the required energy level up or rather get an extra kick from it. Looking at it from that angle, taking Nikethamide on top of that, a known stimulant, seems only consequential...

    To say the least, I am rather disappointed at the ITFs distinction of in-competition= performance enhancing, thus doping, and out-of-competition = not cheating. If certain traces of Nikethamide (or N-ethylnicotinamide, the metabolite thereof) were indeed detected in his adverse sample, this means it affected both his performance during the match as well as the intensity of the training before. Again, Nikethamide serves as a stimulant, an effect which is desired foremostly to boost one's in-competition performance, no?

    By accepting the 5-days prior to the match excuse, they left a backdoor open through which they were able to establish a reduction of the ban. This while there own decision does list good reasons to think otherwise. That decision is extremely contradictory, for it gives ample evidence to support the opposite: that Cilic took Coramine advertently. While reading through the decision, some parts they list would support that.

    For some reason, those obvious indicators of foul play are being neglected in favor of the less/least plausible explanation.

    Why, you wonder.

    He must have taken a lot of Nikethamide to still have traces in his urine after five days, that is, if we are to believe he all of a sudden stopped 5 days ahead of the match. From what I have come understand, and I am NOT an expert, this stuff clears easily. So that decision is NOT convincing.

    1. Cilic claiming he stopped 5 days before the match is about as plausible as Lance Armstrong saying that sure, he doped, but not after his comeback.

      Cilic has IC v OOC drug status to worry about, whereas Lance has seven(?) year Statute of Limitations to worry about.

      How convenient for both of them.

    2. If doping didn't help the body with its fitness and strength and endurance, hence helping one's tennis game, then all the following would be true:

      - no player would do any fitness work
      - no player would do any gym work.
      - no player would benefit by having an extra rest day after a marathon match.
      - the WTA and ATP tours would be combined, as it's all about line-hitting-precision, and not about body, strength, and fitness.

      All these points are simlpy laughable. But the likes of Stuart Miller and Bitti would have you believe all of them.

    3. @Mystery,

      I agree with you all that Miller is bad at his job, but I don't recall him claiming that fitness doesn't matter in tennis. I think the case Miller is hoping to make is that professional players are already working their asses off in the gym and on the practice court. Whatever added boost doping would provide would not be significant enough to raise a low-skilled player above a high-skilled player. In a sport like cycling, where leg strength and endurance are almost all that matters, doping would make more of a difference than in a sport where timing, aim, form, consistency, tactics, mental toughness, handling pressure, etc. all play a significant role in success.

      Do I buy this line of thinking? No. But it's not as entirely dumb as the straw man argument you have put up and knocked down.

      I think the real problem with Miller's reasoning, BTW, is that doping can not only help in obvious ways (more power/spin, faster movement to the ball, more endurance), it can also allow a player to practice longer and harder with less fatigue, which could directly contribute to improved skills (i.e., practice makes perfect, so anything that boost your ability to practice also boosts your skill level).

    4. Miller's opinions on sport performance are unknown. We have his public statements as ITF's anti-doping manager, but this is simple propaganda to mask his "incompetence" at his job. I use the quotes because he has actually doing his real job very well -- that being to hide doping in tennis and avoid any public doping scandal.

      What is curious is that "Dr." Miller is not a medical doctor. He has an advanced degree is "neuromuscular biomechanics." His entire academic life was spent studying sports biomechanics. It would be truely odd for someone who spent a decade of his life studying now speed, strength, endurance, and other physical aspects of an athlete can lead to better sports performance to truly believe that all of that was second place to some undefined "skill" attribute.

      Miller's current position and statements treaks athletes like some Dungeons & Dragons character that has to distribute points across speed, strength, endurance, and "skill." Each point given to one of those is a point taken away from another. Then using is magic combat formula, skill is the dominate factor, so the logical "build" for your tennis player is to maximize skill and then randomly assign the rest of your points to the other buckets.

      Obviously, Miller did not believe this during his lengthy academic career in which he specifically studied how to maximize the speed, strength, and endurance aspects of sports. Miller himself played professional basketball (in England, not the NBA), so he obviously thinks that experience in that sport is relevant to understanding tennis -- but how is this when the skills are completely different?

      I would also like to comment on the notion that in cycling leg strength and endurance are important, but there is a reason why not every race is an individual time trial. There is also the aspects of teamwork, knowing when to attack, when to draft, etc. You could have the most doped cyclist on the planet with the strongest legs and best endurance of any cyclist and he could still not win the TdF without a marginally decent team -- which is why the whole team was doping in the case of Lance.

    5. @MTracy,

      You're right that when I say "bad at his job", I mean from our perspective, not his. Also, he could well be lying. I'm just saying he is not out to convince people that fitness plays no role in tennis.

      As for cycling, sure strategy and teamwork are important, but the actual act of repeatedly moving your legs in a circular pattern is just not even close to as varied and complex as the movements in tennis.

    6. DanM, firstly if that is Miller's opinion, then he certainly does not state it in that manner. Even worse, if possible, is Bitti. It is only after criticism from this blog that MIller got himself a "friendly"/staged interview with a tennis website (I forget the exact one but others would remember) where he slightly "clarified" his position, though still not nearly as detailed as you state.

      Secondly, if "gluten-free" (Djokovic) and "Tennis Val" (Errani, Ferrer) can elevate tennis players who "are already working their asses off in the gym and on the practice court" above others, then dope certainly can too.

    7. @Mystery,

      It's true, Miller hasn't made his position clear enough, leaving me to take a stab at what he's trying to say. My only point is that he is clearly not saying, "fitness doesn't matter in tennis".

      As for Djokovic, I would say that he stopped poisoning himself with a substance his body can't handle. Once he was no longer in a constantly diseased state, he was not surprisingly able to feel and perform better. Certainly, doping could have been involved as well, but I don't find his story entirely implausible.

      What I do find implausible is that a gluten-free diet would have similar effects on someone who doesn't have Celiac disease. Someone actually asked Nadal at a press conference if he eats a gluten-free diet. Why should he? He's not allergic to gluten.

    8. BTW, what is Tennis Val? (Google doesn't have much on it.)

    9. In matters TennisVal, I would recommend reading the USADAs Reasoned Decision on Armstrong - once you download that PDF google for Garcia Del Moral for a start. He worked for US Postal from 1999 till 2003 and was in charge of administering /overseeing blood doping. More specifically, he was in charge of making sure no cyclist ever got caught during testing. He was handed a lifetime ban by USADA in July 2012.

      TenisVal is an academy in Val-encia (hence the Val) where Del Moral, a doctor by training, worked with the likes of Ferrer, Kirilenko and Errani on matters fitness, performance diagnostics and nutrition.

      Ever since the Armstrong story broke and the Reasoned Decision became public, Del Moral / TenisVal have been made public as well, but the ITF decided to not investigate the matter further, instead chose to only recommend to players involved that they should stop visiting this not-so-moral doctor.

      Note also that Del Moral has ties into football as well, namely FC Valencia and Barça.

      When we reference TenisVal here, it is done to emphasize that the ITF missed out on an opportunity to investigate his tennis ties. Judging from his doping-past, it is fair to say that the ITF turned a blind eye on this deliberately.

      One last comment regarding fitness vs. skill, maybe my wording was not perfect, I am not claiming fitness alone will get the job done of becoming a top player. Yet, whenever the topic doping is brought up, the technique element in tennis is used to downplay the current trend of extremely fit players. MIller is no stranger to that "game". Needless to say, you have to be extremely gifted in the skill-side of it. But many are gifted in top 100 - yet the combination of power, endurance, strength with good skills has shifted the game style we have been seeing ever since the courts got slower and rallies got longer etc., devaluing the core skills of the game in favor of a more physical style.

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    11. > When we reference TenisVal here, it is done to emphasize that the ITF missed out on an opportunity to investigate his tennis ties.

      That makes sense. I had heard of del Moral, but didn't quite get the connection. Looking over the Reasoned Decision, I can see why any association with him would definitely be a red flag.

      > maybe my wording was not perfect

      I know you're not saying that fitness alone will get the job done (my original comment was in response to @Mystery).

      > devaluing the core skills of the game in favor of a more physical style

      You definitely reveal your bias with this statement :) No doubt the game is becoming more physical, but I don't necessarily see this as a negative. Before they slowed down the courts, Wimbledon had become little more than a serving contest. The points were short alright. One shot and it was done. Was that really better? I think long rallies can be exciting, as long as the ball is hit hard. I admit that watching two moonballing counter-punchers on clay is not the most exciting thing in the world, but that's clay--it's been like that as long as I can remember.

      I also don't really know how to evaluate whether core skills have been devalued, as you say. As far as I can tell, every stroke in tennis is on full display in today's game. You can't really make the case that nobody volleys or hits drop shots anymore. Most players still hit a mix of topspin and slice with their backhand. Touch or finesse are still very much alive. Serve-and-volley as a way of life may not really exist anymore, but it is still a frequently used tactic. So, while physicality has certainly been added to the game, what has actually been removed?

      Finally, you could argue that *any* professional tennis player is "extremely gifted in the skill-side", but even within the "extremely gifted" category, you can still rank players from best to worst. It's also impossible to really separate out a player's physicality from his or her skill or shot-making ability. Nor can you separate out equipment. Nadal's forehand, for example, is a product of his footwork, his arm strength, the way he holds the racket, the small grip, the form of his swing and wrist flick, incredibly grippy strings, and any number of other factors. If he never had those big arms to begin with, he may have developed a different forehand. Or conversely, if he didn't hit his forehand the way he does, he may have never sought to strengthen his arms so much. All these factors are so intrinsically tied together that you can't really isolate out "fitness" and claim that fitness alone is making all the difference, nor can you claim that fitness doesn't matter.

    12. Let me put it this way: if the benefits gained from his incredible, maybe illegally acquired fitness put the icing on the cake and tie in nicely the other factors you rightly mentioned, to eventually create the very über-beasts we are currently seeing, then taking away one crucial element from this, notably PEDs, would also turn those beasts into more average players, as we occasionally see during the Asian swing of the tour, or when having to playing faster surfaces?

      Players getting tired should be normal, such is life, - what is not-so normal, however, is the top player's indefatigability and predictability in making the semis of almost every Slam since 1995, wouldn't you agree?

      Let's proceed and let us take away yet another element, the slow courts, and we end up getting more variety in! And again we have created a more level playing field where the top is not protected. For court speed is key to favor multiple skills rather than a few. Slower courts narrow the range of skills needed and reduce the variety of potentially effective attacks from your opponents. So in a way, it was more difficult to play in the 80s and 90s and produce constant results, for more skills were required to suceed.

      Now if we look at the situation from the mid Nineties to now, it's a whole different ballgame. Once the USO and Wimbledon began slowing down their courts, we got more stable results from the top players and hence less upsets and a narrower set of skills required to succeed (agreeably, players do know hot to hit the occasional approach shot and volleys, yet they don't use them that much), while all of a sudden another element got rather prominent: fitness!

      Add to that changes in ball weight and bounces and racquets (new string technology) and it becomes obvious that we see a more homogenized tennis these days, resulting in longer points or rallies. 54 shots!

      To give you an example (from Michael Clark's book) : if you look at the 1994 Wimby final between Ivanisevic and Sampras, both played into the 3rd set/29th game until they had one rally that lasted more than 4 shots!

      Compared with the 2012 final, where already the first point lasted 7 shots, you get my point about fitness... Slower surfaces benefit fitter players.

      (Just to be on the safe side, I am not a nostaligist bemoaning wooden racquets , shorty shorts and Borg's headband, I am not interested in a tennis that is mostly serve & volley, however, I am in favor for a PED free tennis that encourages multiple styles, or rather different types of characters, rather than the one-sided baseline rallies & endless retrieving, which can be incredible in its own right, I admit, but knowing what it does to your body, knowing it favors a certain physical tennis only, and encourages, nah, screams DOPING, add to that it benefits only an exclusive set of players, possibly not the more honest one's... who knows, I think you know now what my stance is ;))

    13. > what is not-so normal, however, is the top player's indefatigability and predictability in making the semis of almost every Slam since 1995, wouldn't you agree?

      Yes, it is definitely not normal. But if somehow the top four have achieved their awesome level of skill + fitness without PEDs (something I know you see as a near impossibility, but play along), is it necessarily bad for the sport?

      You don't enjoy the more grinding nature of today's game, and I'm not crazy about watching serving contests. Clearly, enough people agreed with me that we now have slower courts and/or heavier balls. This means that fans no longer have to be bored to death watching endless holds of serve with nary a rally. At the same time, it means the surfaces are now more homogenous, enabling a certain style of play to dominate. While I don't agree that any particular shot or tactic has been lost (I think players have the same repertoire of shots their forebearers had), I can't argue that players hit more groundstrokes and fewer volleys than in the past.

      So, we have a trade-off here. On the one hand, fans seem to like the longer rallies and the more physical nature of the sport, and they seem to genuinely relish the dominance of the big four (passionate GOAT discussions are happening literally all the time in every corner of the world). On the other hand, the more physical style of play, whether enhanced by illicit substances or not, cannot be good for the long-term health of the players, and the more homogenous surfaces mean that you don't see widely varying playing styles as you go from one surface to another.

      For some, this is the golden age of tennis. For others, the golden age has long passed. It's a great debate to have, but unless we know whether the sport is clean, there can be no conclusion.

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    15. I think not all fans enjoy the fact that attrition rallies are the new normal - I believe you might be parroting what the media and most of all, the tennis industry is claiming - and we know they have a substantial self-interest in the current status quo.

      As for the fans, I am not sure if they will really enjoy this one-sided style of play for ever, in fact, I am not sure a majority is currently enjoying it that much.

      I would compare the monotony we see with Barça and the whole Primera Division deadlock at the top - many football fans begin to yawn when they see Barças possession-driven game and their endless passing - they are also fed up with having a few (precisely two!) top teams dominate the entire league, also financially. It simply makes for predictability which equates with lack of variety. This is something no sport would want. However, the one's making money from the sport greatly enjoy it, no doubt.

      And tennis should not about what makes the most money (=consolidation at the top) - it should be about the beautiful game where the best, undoped players have a chance to win.

      I would not want to make this about "golden age" or not, this is simply a label invented to market trends to us and paint a beautiful picture of the current state of tennis. We know its bloody rotten when players like Cilic lie about injuries and Pedro Munoz tells us that is common wouldn't you agree?

      The label "Golden Age" is meant to suggest everything is great and peaceful - perfect state of harmony, prosperity and whatnot. But that's a load of crap and neglects the price we pay for what we get from pro-tennis. If we stick to the Greek mythology for a sec, we all know what happened after the first, golden stage populated by noble beings, right? Arcadia got corrupted - pastorals are not real etc...

      I am coming from an era where Graf and Becker "dominated" the scene and I personally enjoy watching serve & volley, in fact, this is how I learned to play as well. But back then, every surface required it's own strategy and benefitted a certain play style more than another. The variety of court speeds simply was much greater and different players had a chance to succeed , or, to put it differently, back then, top players like Graf were able to come up with a game for all / most surface speeds.

      What I am saying is, that, ideally, we would have more differentiated surfaces and subsequently, rallies, grinding AS WELL AS attacking serve & volley style. I want a fair mix, I do enjoy rallies and grinding as well and I like Koenig go: "Oooooooooohhhh, can you believe it!"

      But that can not be all there is. As with all things in life, I like variety - which would allow more players the chance to win a title.

      GOAT debates are boring me to death and I find them repetitive, I don't enjoy those, Must be a personality thing.

    16. I'm not going by the press so much as the crowd noise and standing ovations following long rallies. And, sure, the GOAT debates get old pretty quickly, but they are indicative that fans are engaged in the sport.

      It would be nice to see a proper poll on whether fans are happy with the direction tennis has moved in the past decade or not. Perhaps it's a generational thing, where people who fell in love with the game watching players like McEnroe or Becker are nostalgic for some good serve-and-volley tennis. I'd like to see that, too, but I don't see how you get back to that without putting limits on racquet power. Otherwise, you just end up with serve-and-done tennis.

      > And tennis should not about what makes the most should be about the beautiful game where the best, undoped players have a chance to win

      I don't agree that "beautiful" should be valued over "exciting", but of course, the best, undoped players should have a chance to win.

      > we would have more differentiated surfaces and subsequently, rallies, grinding AS WELL AS attacking serve & volley style.

      I would like that as well, I just don't know how to achieve that without restricting equipment or escalating the number of aces to boredom-inducing level.

  16. Murray went one further than Nadal. He actually HAD back surgery or at least he's gone to great lengths to make everyone think he has.

    I wonder how long he'll be out and if he will indeed come back stronger as his mum said he would.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.


      Feb, 2013.

      Nice pictures.

    3. However, if Murray is truly injured, I wish him a speedy recovery.

    4. That is truely raising the bar when it comes to proving an injury...

      I personally would like to watch a live-feed from the operation ;)

      Anyway, set aside the irony here for a minute. Murrays picture tells us that players are aware of the fact that they have to prove their injury to the public these days and go through great lengths to establish it (thanks to the ITF intransparency).

    5. Murray clearly understands the issue of doping -- the "injuries", training in remote locations, mystery diets, etc, and is trying to combat all of these, which I applaud. He appears to have a genuine injury and cooperates it. No mystery restaurant slip, left knee, no I mean right knee, etc. He describes his diet in detail -- high protein, lots of sushi, eating 50 times a day. No magic novel being published claiming eating gluten free will make you a top player in 14 days. He also documents his training and appears to train in UK and USA and has apparently invented the press to video his entire workout day, which lasts for several hours.

      Of course, none of this means Murray is or is not doping, but at least he is open and his explanations make sense. He is getting better because he is training more. Ok. That makes sense. Could be that he is getting better because he is doping more, but it is not laughable like taking 7 months off and magically getting better or getting pulmonary embolisms for unknown reasons when you hide in your panic room.

    6. More experts on Murray's injury:

      "He isn’t my patient so obviously I don’t know the specifics of his case but there are reports that he is to undergo a microdiscectomy, which is keyhole surgery. If that is the case that would suggest that there might be some damage to the disc itself and/or part of the disc could have pushed itself outwards, causing impingement/nipping on the sciatic nerve that runs down the spine and into the legs. When that happens it’s a bit like a finger pressing down onto a very fat, soft and highly sensitive guitar string"

      "The exact nature of Murray’s procedure will depend on the specific issues he has, the overall extent of problem and how much, if any, the nerve is affected. Some surgeries are more invasive than others but the main aim of most procedures like this is usually to ‘tidy up’ the disc and free up the nerve. From there it would be a matter of easing the inflammation and finding a balance between resting and mobilising the back to gradually get it moving again."

  17. Even a live-feed would be easily faked, unfortunately ;)

    But you're right, it seems players are very much aware that just claiming to have an injury is not enough, they will have to show some kind of visual evidence of being treated. This is probably not only to squash PED-rumors, but also because players have canceled tournaments with suspicious and very short-lived 'injuries' at the last minute, leaving the tournament directors high and dry.

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  19. If you can get busted for something as simple as a glucose tablet (as opposed to a substance that has to be injected), what's to prevent restaurant employees from sabotaging the food of a player they don't like? I don't see this being very likely in a player's home country, but it could easily happen when visiting a country where there would be interest in seeing a particular player getting suspended (picture Djokovic in London, eating out after his Wimbledon semi-final victory).

    1. As Cilic evidently likes things sweet, drop a couple of Coramine tablets in his tea. That'll do the trick. He can always blame that one on "mum" as well.

    2. Because most banned substances are not taken orally. You would have to swallow a whole bunch of testosterone for it to show up on a test -- and the test would have to be the next day. Same with EPO and just about every major banned substance.

      Sure, there is nikeathamide -- which has a 1/2 life of 30 minutes. So unless the doping test is going to be in the next hour or so, you had better really sprinkle it on -- as it a couple pounds of it.

      I would also imagine that a top athlete would screen almost all of his urine. For instance, we know that Murray tests almost all of his urine for electrolytes. It would be silly to think that his team doesn't send a samples out to be tested. Assuming a sample came back positive for a drug that you were not suspecting of being there (because a waiter spiked your drink), you could file a police report and inform that ITF that an adverse party had spiked your drink.

      Even then, the waiter would have to time the spike with an upcoming test. Given that top athletes are tested about once a month (at best), it would be next to impossible to time -- unless the athlete ate at the same restaurant every day.

      The real thing is that nikethamide is a bad example. It simply would not last 5 days in your system. In addition, you would probably notice any significant amount of it immediately. It would be like spiking your drink with 500mg of caffeine to put in any amount that would show up a day or 2 later. Any athlete would notice this within 15-30 minutes of taking the spiked food/beverage. Same thing with cocaine, meth, etc. The athlete would know almost immediately that something was wrong -- unless his name is Gasquet.

      Which leads to the next point -- why didn't anyone make a big deal about this with Gasquet. I mean, any casual contact with someone who was doing cocaine and you get banned? Couldn't anyone who wanted to ruin an athlete just kiss him or her? What if an athletes girlfriend was doing cocaine and then kissed him -- banned for two years? Couldn't a waiter just put trace cocaine on his salad -- isn't this the same as "kissing" -- it goes in your mouth. Anyway, no one believed Gasquet and the reason is that it is too difficult to spike an athlete without alerting the athlete. Obviously, if you are completely drunk maybe you would not notice cocaine being slipped into your system -- but probably just best to avoid being completely drunk around strangers.

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    4. @MTracy, thanks for the reply, very helpful. I hadn't thought about players testing their own urine. Also, it sounds like you are saying that if you orally ingest anything in enough quantity for it to show up in a test, you would definitely notice it.

  20. Mainstream media now picking up on the issue.

    As well as the public becoming aware of the ITF's blind eye to tennis doping, they can start to see how shifty the ITF is in aligning itself with the dopers in their "silent ban" ruses.

    1. Ironic that he concealed the positive test to avoid bad publicity...... He would have been better off to come clean and say he screwed up taking a pill, and hope people (and sponsors) believed him...

      I do not understand why he is appealing this. He doesn't deny taking a supplement which contained a banned substance. That's a ban, right there, and he is getting off lightly as it is.

    2. The comments at the end are actually good to read. Unlike tennis fanboy websites like (which admittedly aren't as bad as they used to be).

  21. Just a thought. Was Cilic's fake knee injury at Wimbledon accompanied by a phony medical certificate as well? Pulling out with an injury requires confirmation of the injury by a qualified medical professional if I am not mistaken.

    There could be a conspiracy going on here. Did the Wimbledon tournament committee know about the test positive as well? What is the likelihood that they knew as well and ratified the lie? There's more questions to be asked here.

    Paging the good Dr Miller. Paging Dr Stuart Miller

    1. On point! Indeed Wimbledon should have an interest in this scam as well. If they accepted that certificate, which now turns out as fake, their own credibility gets tainted as well.

      Players feigning injuries while in fact they have been caught with an adverse positive sample is not something they want to be part in.

      Mike Dickson for Daily Mail (see post below) did aks them for comments. Let's hope he is pushy and gets updates on that matter.

    2. The little lie from an "honest and truthful man" looks like growing bigger and bigger.

  22. Relevant bits from a Bloomberg article by Alex Duff, quoting Munoz

    "The ATP, the men’s tour organizer, has concealed “many” doping violations in the past, former Spanish tennis federation president Pedro Munoz said in an interview. The ATP says it has always acted within the rules. "

    "Munoz, the former Spanish federation president, said in an interview in Madrid last week that “many times” tennis authorities have kept cases secret."

    "He said he travelled with a Spanish player, whom he declined to identify, to an ATP hearing in Paris after the athlete tested positive for a drug he took to help heal a shoulder injury in the late 1990s. The men’s tour fined the player the equivalent of about 5,000 euros ($6,700) and never made the test result public, according to Munoz."

    "The ATP said in a statement that its anti-doping program has “always” followed the rules, requiring positive doping tests to be reviewed by an independent panel and, if there is a case to answer, an independent tribunal.

    “There has never been a deviation from this process,” the ATP said, without directly responding to a request to explain the case Munoz mentioned.

    With tennis coming under more scrutiny than ever from people interested in celebrity and rumor, authorities aren’t helping the sport’s reputation by conducting inquiries in private, Chadwick said.

    “They’re trying to keep a lid on it and manage the news but in the social media age it’s very difficult to keep things quiet,” Chadwick said. “It’s a dangerous strategy”

    Does anybody have access to the entire interview with Munoz?

  23. Mike Dickson for Daily Mail, who smartly asked Wimbledon for a comment.

    "But the Cilic ban leaked to Croatian media, and the confirmation that he invented the knee injury after winning his first round shows the weakness of that system.

    The damage that it will do is that players who are legitimately injured may well come under the current cloud of suspicion swirling around the sport over doping issues, even if they are perfectly innocent.

    Although what happened at Wimbledon was in line with the rules, it also raises the moral question of whether the Association of Tennis Professionals and the ITF should remain silent when they know that a player is putting out a false reason for a withdrawal.

    A spokesman for Wimbledon said the matter would be considered further but declined to comment at this stage."

  24. Off topic, but I'm getting really irritated by all the tweets from players about their doping tests...

    "OMG!!! Ouch!! Woken for a doping test AT 6 AM!!!!!! They took 5 TUBES!!! #poorme #playerabuse

    To those players....

    1. You picked the testing time, not the doping control officers.

    2. If you are part of the whereabouts program, you likely earn literally millions for hitting a ball with a bat. You should thank your lucky chemically-clean stars, and deal with testing, it's a part of your job.

    My job requires me to be on call for days or weeks at a time. I'm not overjoyed when the pager goes off at 4am, but I don't run to tweet "Oh No!!, have to go back to the hospital #stupidsickpeople.

    1. LOL well said, have said for years that players complaining about being woken up early, PUT A LATER TIME ON YOUR DOPING FORM!! It's not rocket science.

  25. A complete aside: Did Djokovic include a chapter on the benefits of juicing for his new "14 day Gluten-free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence"?

    1. You mean on the benefits of freshly squeezed juice, right?

      I think that 14-day Plan of his is also for total world domination ;)

  26. Interested in hearing World Anti-Doping Agency Director General David Howman with IOC Member & WADA Athlete Committee member Adam Pengilly talk about current issues in anti-doping?

    Register for the free Tackling Doping in Sport webinar, taking place this Thursday at 1500 BST, now!

  27. Pros don't have to prove injuries ???
    My daughter plays college tennis now. If she misses ONE weight-lifting session she has to have a doctor's note. It is inflexible, she can't just say "I did not feel my muscles were ready".


    I don't know if anyone has read this but the stats may just back up the view that men's tennis is indeed protected and the powers that be have tried protecting a few top stars (good for business) in ways other than letting them get away with doping.


    Other sports are taking it way beyond... As absurd as Cilic's case.


    Koellerer: "It's impossible that Nadal is not doping".

    1. Sorry for the translation, but it's all I can do.


      "Tennis is manipulated and drugged. And what has been done about it this year? Nothing. Except in my case. I've paid for everyone. Now they've stopped Viktor Troicki and Marin Cilic. But, why?
      "Let's take Nadal. It's not possible that he tests negative. After 7 months out of the courts due to injury, he came back and won 10 out of 13 tournaments. That is impossible. Impossible! It tells you everything. That combined with the rumours of fake injuries to cover up silent bans. Look, nobody believes in that story that he didn't take anything! Imagine what it would mean for tennis if it broke the news that he tested positive."

      About Ferrer: "He is, or was, a compulsive smoker. Once I played against him and he was smoking just 10 minutes before we came into the court. Then he ran even more in the third set, while I had mi tongue out."

      About match fixing: "This is... a secret between players. Specially on summer, some lose early at tournaments, so they can still play during the weekend and win money twice. They have inside information about the players to gain some hundreds of euros".

    2. Koellerer - I knew it had to come from one of the players they turned into an outcast - though i agree his personality prolly did help in that as well.

      He really got fucked - lost most of his money and status, working as a trainer for kids now. I'll go look at the German source and post more bits in case morriganblane did miss some bits.

      The façade begins to crumble, ITF. I think the pressure is ON now.

    3. My first thought: It's a shame it has to come from a person whose reputation is close to zero after his match-fixing trial not to mention his antics on court.

      Yet, at the same time it does make sense. It has to come from someone from the margins, a person, that basically has nothing to lose and gives zero fucks about the ITF these days - for, well, ever since he has been handed his life-time ban it became clear that the ITF gives zero fucks about him too. He truely is a pawn sacrifice, albeit not a charming one, I admit, one that we should pitty.

      I mean, Koubek did not try to strangle him for no reason...

      Let's recall, Köllerer was put on trial/tribunal after Odesnik snitched and got his own penalty for hGH significantly reduced, while Crazy Dani on the other hand got a lifetime ban for match fixing, charges he denies up to this point.

      Too bad he simply cites rumours and never gets more specific or presents more detailed accounts.

      But the general key note of his statement, despite being driven by revenge, seem in accordance with the latest reveals regarding feigned injuries, as in Cilic case, who have made the public or the comments from someone like Pedro Munoz, afterall the former president of the Spanish Federation, who is not known for erratic behaviour like Crazy Dani.

      Btw, do we know which player Munoz is referring to, fellow THASPERs and part-time Sherlocks?


  31. Ok, so now when the tribunal said that Cilic's knee injury was fake, they were lying, and Cilic really did have a knee injury that just happened to reach a critical phase on the exact day that he accepted a provisional suspension for doping. But, didn't Cilic just post 2 days ago that he could not comment any further on the events surrounding his ban and withdrawal, and now he is commenting on them. (

    How could any tribunal determine that this guy was "honest?" Maybe Stuart Miller testified first, and then in relative comparison a used car salesman would sound honest.

    1. Cilic tries to out-honest the ITF. Tough job!

    2. Here is Cilic nursing his knee injury in a pre-Wimbledon interview.

      This interview took place at the Boodles warm-up for Wimbledon. No reason to think he wasn't at or near, the top of his game. Maybe he fell down the stairs that evening.

    3. Good find on the video. Starting at about 3:30 he talks all about how important movement is on grass and does not even mention any problem at all with his movement.

      Could be he fell down the stairs. My theory is that his mother rubs his knees every night, but she forgot to the day he withdrew because she was too busy buying him "glucose" from Tony Bosch.

    4. Also found this one:

      "I played of my best matches on grass." (About 0:40) Then he withdraws the next day. This is just further proof that knee injuries actually do make you play better.

    5. While you are at it, try to find one where Cilic speaks French...

    6. That puts the Kibosh on that then.

      It gets funnier by the day; An ATP player's phony excuses taken apart by a motley crew of fans with internet access, keyboards and a mind of their own.

      Just as well Andy Murray is posting pictures of himself on his death bed!

    7. MTracy it won't be long before that youtube video us gone.

  32. If a Spanish male player used a shoulder injury treatment as part of a defense for a positive test (? a cortisone shot, a drug much beloved by Mr Armstrong), it may well have been an injury that had been discussed in the press. Corretja and Brugera both had shoulder injuries in the late 90s........

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  34. Taking pleasure in analyzing how he lied now that he's down is neither very nice nor particularly useful.
    SNR, where are the top guys? Always relegated to the bottom of very long posts / comment exchanges.
    I mean, perhaps we can learn something from the Cilic case, but there are much bigger issues at the top, aren't there? Let's not get sidetracked

    1. There has been plenty of discussion on the technicalities involving the Cilic case and much of it has been useful in understanding how the ITF has been operating. Many people have been translating these shenanigans to potential problems at the top as you say they should. Where are the top guys? Not being shown up like Cilic has, which is why the discussion is mainly around him. This case is a huge deal because it has opened a giant can of worms regarding transparency and honesty within the anti doping procedures, casting a shadow over dubious antics of other players including, of course, the top guys. Meticulous analysis can only be useful.

      If some ridicule has been thrown in, it is because it is, in fact, ridiculous, and is therefore completely justified. I certainly don't see any need to be particularly 'nice' regarding lies and cover ups in sport. The exposed lies and contradictions are downright embarrassing and have very sinister implications.

    2. The Cilic case is a rare glimpse behind the veil. The scrutiny is important, as it provides insight and analysis into how ITF conducts it's business.

      His allegedly feigned-injury appears to have been predicated on the assumption that exoneration by the ITF was a possibility. This for me is a key point, since that was surely never going to happen, if he admitted taking a supplement containing a banned substance.........

      Unless, of course, forgiveness for this "honest and truthful man" was indeed a possibility, prior to the leaking of the positive drug test.

    3. In addition to the good observations posted above, the issue with Cilic lying is that it is central to his defense. The tribunal specifically determined that he was "honest" -- while at the same time stating that he lied. Now, he says he didn't lie, that his knees really did hurt, but on YouTube, he is clearly heard stating he was playing the best tennis of his entire life. His "honesty" was central to many of the key findings of the tribunal -- namely when the took the Coramine and what his purpose was in taking it.

      As pointed out above, whenever these decisions are published, a number of blaring problems pop out. In this case, it appears that the tribunal and ITF will believe any crazy story put forth by an athlete even when there is clear evidence to the contrary. It also shows that ITF is not a "expert" is prosecuting these cases because they put on no evidence at all that the 66ng/ml in his urine could not possibly have been from 0.125g of Coramine taken 5 days prior. Nor did the ITF highlight the issue that the "honest" Cilic lied on his doping control form when he failed to mention creatine or the glucose supplement. (All supplements are required to be listed, even legal substances.) When someone lies on their doping control form, lies about an injury, and lies about when Coramine was taken, how can you conclude he is "honest?" How can the public have faith that these decision makers are not making equally horrendous decisions to exonerate players completely and thus never publish their "logical" decisions?

      So, from the Cilic decision, we have another fool proof doping escape route -- in case you can't get Miller on the phone so you can skip the test in the first place. When you get poped, just find some poor bum that lives on a street corner. Have him come in as a witness and say, "Yes, I hate Player X and decided to punish him by injecting him with EPO. While he was sleeping, I slipped into his hotel room and injected him the night before he was tested." The laughable ITF would simply accept this defense and never even ask, "So, what hotel was this? How did you get the Rolex watch you are wearing?" (note, your "psychologist" testifies that you were really tired and suffering from stress, so you were not awakened by a needle being inserted into your arm.) Sure, you get a 3 month "silent ban" while all this is going on, but hey you dodged a bullet.

    4. When he takes his case to CAS they should review these videos and form their own opinion of just how truthful and honest Cilic is. When you add this latest rowing back on the knee excuse to the equally fanciful narrative of his Coramine ingestion, you start to wonder just how low the ITF set the bar in their assessment of a player's honesty.

    5. @ MTracy & Peter Gilson & Adam

      Nice summary of the essential problems in the Cilic case.

      Should be made required reading for any tennis journo before even considering to take the pen up!

    6. None of the major tennis players are looking very good. The ITF lied about Cilic in their press release claiming he had a knee injury when they were already in conversation with his lawyers. Wimbledon turned a blind eye too (Did Cilic produce medical backup for his withdrawal?) and the ATP lamely and unconvincingly, claim they followed all the rules in response to the Munoz revelations. How do we know they followed all the rules? In the spirit of Kipling's "If" - those inspiring lines - these characters running tennis really ought not to be dealing in lies and moreover they really ought to be making allowance for our doubting too. The ATP specifically should demonstrably show how they acted within the rules which, bluntly, I don't believe they did. Had they followed them, they would not be making such vague and evasive statements now to the Munoz allegations against them.

      Borrowing so heavily on those hallowed values expressed by Kipling, they ought to conduct themselves too in the same way too.

  35. What do we have learned from this? Nadal's injuries were genuine. If he had lied & took time off to cover up doping, we would have caught him too. So stop the Nadal - witch hunt?

    Timing is just too strange. When many starts doubting about Nadal, Cilic story breaks out.

  36. Great piece (in French) by Clément Guillou/ Les Nouvel Observateur.


    "Dear Tennis fans, welcome to the world of permanent doubt! Cycling fans have been living in it for fifteen years. It is a world in which a last minute withdrawal or prolonged absence will make you raise your eyebrows . In which you ask to see the radios of Nadal for each absence with a knee injury and the complete medical record if Federer announced mononucleosis . It's a hostile world.

    Do not blame the players: they have nothing to do . Some cheat , some do not , it's like everywhere. If we complain, it is with Francesco Ricci Bitti , President of the immovable International Tennis Federation (ITF) since 1999.

    We have already mentioned the weaknesses of tennis in the field, to the point that the players themselves are calling for tighter controls . In recent weeks, it is the transparency of the Federation is involved."
    Some sports announce interim suspensions from the result of the first analysis known - every athlete tested positive has the right to request a second analysis. But instances of tennis protect the doped athlete pending a hearing before an "independent tribunal" - and appointed by the ITF. To validate, by their silence , excuses invented by a player to explain abandonment."
    "Five months have passed between the control and Cilic the first communication of the ITF. Three months and ten tournaments played between the offense of Serbian Victor Troicki in Monte Carlo - refusal to submit to control - his punishment. Four months of press leaks between the positive control of the Czech Barbara Zahlalova - Strycova and the announcement of his - short - suspension."
    (...) We know that , traditionally , tennis has often spoken unofficial penalties disguised as injury or sabbatical leave to preserve his honor ," said a former head of the circuit to the Swiss newspaper Le Temps in 2009.
    As a result, prolonged or retirement surprise injury is accompanied by rumors of a hidden suspension , powered by former players or foreign newspapers.
    * Mononucleosis Robin Söderling , which lasted more than two years;
    * Hoffa syndrome that has spread Rafael Nadal courts between July 2012 and February 2013;
    * Fatigue that pushed Marion Bartoli and Justine Henin before her to retire suddenly."

    The ITF , by its opacity , gives weight to conspiracy theories . On specialized forums, each unexpected package is dissected. The results of the last Wimbledon are considered too suspicious to be true. President Ricci Bitti is not known for its flexibility , it is likely that the era of suspicion before several years that transparency. His term ends in 2015."

  37. My perception is that the press (and others) are becoming much bolder when discussing rumours surrounding suspect players, and more aggressive in their stance about testing in tennis......

    This is obviously a good thing. In part this is surfing the waves of the Cilic and Troicki judgments, but I suspect the Armstrong revelations are at the root of it.

    Ironic to think Lance might have inadvertently advanced anti-doping........

  38. Italy is picking up the story, Alessandro Mastroluca for Ubi-Tennis.

  39. Koellerer has responded.

    Köllerer defused Nadal criticism:
    Interesting bits:

    ".. If you take out Nadal, it would be death for the Tennis If you would convict him, it would be just like in cycling with Armstrong, I can well imagine, that the injury breaks might have a different background", the 30-year-old expressed very nebulous:

    "I'm not the only one who thinks so. Olivier Rochus said already in 2012 after his resignation, Nadal was protected by the ATP." Köllerer had received already positive feedback: "for many of my former colleagues from the tennis circuit that is suspect Many have already contacted by telephone and text message me."

    Does he mean Christophe Rochus because Olivier is still an active player last I checked? Also interesting that he has says he has received positive feedback from MANY who also share his suspicions.

    1. It's almost as if it's an open secret in the Tennis World.

  40. The UCI is cleaning up nicely - McQuaid, the most corrupt president, was voted down and Cookson is now in charge!

    Tennis, see how it can be done...
    First statement by Cookson:

    "I call on the global community to unite so that the sport lives up to its potential. We must have a new style of government and a collegiate system. My first act as president is to ensure anti-doping is fully independent and to sit down with WADA"

    Could you imagine the ITF's president say something like that?

    1. Good news. Unfortunately, the ITF is stuck with Bitti until 2015.

    2. "My first act as president is to ensure anti-doping is fully independent and to sit down with WADA"

      Amen to that......

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Now Tignor chips in...

    Leaving some crucial stuff out, also missing the point. Though he gets the fictitious nature of these "decisions":

    "If you’re looking for a good fall tennis read, I’d recommend leaving Infinite Jest on the shelf for a few more days and checking out the tribunal summaries of the ITF's recent cases involving Cilic and Viktor Troicki instead. In their mix of the tragic and the bureaucratic, they’re positively Kafka-esque. You’ll shake your head, and maybe even shed a tear, at the circumstances, misunderstandings, and various language barriers that conspire against the two protagonists, and the fatal choices each man makes. "

    Sadly, he is not going after the ITF for producing such implausible schlock...Fifty Shades of Tennis...

    Despite calling both decisions Kafka-esque, in the end is surprisingly accepting of that sort of obvious fiction ... caving in to the pressure and calling that "series of unfortunate events" believable...

    "The length of the suspension seems right to me. It was an unlucky series of events, but as the tribunal decision makes clear, Cilic knew that whatever was in his body was his responsibility. After he tested positive, it took his trainer just 10 minutes on the Internet to discover what those glucose tablets really contained. In general, the Cilic and Troicki tribunal summaries came off as professional and convincing. I’ve met both players and watched them for a long time, and the descriptions of them seemed accurate."

    1. Tignor is a pathetic journalist. A Nadal fanboy, so I am not surprised. Scratch that, I think he is dishonest and not deluded. The guy's job depends on the game doesn't it? All those past deluded ramblings about astonishing performances would make him look bad if he applied some common logic and spelled out what we all seem to agree upon: Cilic lied, and lie and lied.

      So instead he choses to justify the player's story. Going to all kinds of lengths to do it - I wonder what the odds on this kind of story panning out in reality are.

  43. Chris Evert ‏@ChrissieEvert 25 Sep
    @Tehaspe @tehaspe @nancyglenview "I would hope drug testing in tennis is as advanced and sophisticated as Olympic testing, but I'm not sure.."

    And I'm not sure, either. Well done SnR for engaging someone like Chris Evert in this debate.

    I hope the tide is slowly turning........

    1. I very much doubt it Chris.

      Blast from the past (well, 2009):

      "SvD today can tell you that Roger Federer contacted the ITF for the organization to use the opportunity to save doping samples for eight years"

      Söderling does not agree: "It's one thing if the player is still active, but 8 years is a long time and I don't know what why you'd want to expose a player who has already retired. You can't punish the player and it wouldn't help the opponents he beat so I don't see the point."

      It also brings up Murray's and Nadal's whining about the whereabouts. WADA's David Howman replies: "It's mostly tennis players criticising the WADA code. It seems as though they haven't quite understood it. Murray complained about the antidoping officials knocking on his door before 8 in the morning, but he himself had picked 7-8 as the time he'd be available for drug testing".


      Are samples now being kept for 8 years by the ITF or is it still 3 months?

    2. I'd like to know too - 8 years or 3 months?

    3. Chris Evert knows what's going on and I bet she is dying to say something but doesn't want to jeopardize her job at ESPN. She says as much as she can without getting into trouble.

      I wish she would go the extra mile and be a little more courageous, but in all honesty, out of all the mainstream commentators at least she acknowledges there is a problem.

  44. Nadal is playing Beijing as well - in a field that includes Djokovic. How often do you see that? Guy must be really confident about his knees holding up on the surface he has long complained about - I'd like that doctor of his please!

    We're now reduced to seeing a doper final in even the smaller tournaments.

  45. He's so greedy. He wants it all. He'll be back to #1 soon because Djokovic has a ton of points to defend this fall and Nadal has zero to defend. He really needs to share the name of his doc with the world because this guy must be a miracle worker.

  46. Troicki has set the date of his appeal:

    Trociki gets CAS date to appeal 18-month ban

    LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Serbian tennis player Victor Troicki says he will appear at sport's highest court next week to challenge his 18-month ban for skipping a doping test.

    Troicki says in a statement he is "confident" ahead of his Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing on Oct. 9.

    The 2010 Davis Cup winner says "I will attend in person for sure. I am fighting for the truth and I will do it as hard as I can."


    I wonder when Cilic's will be.

    1. Fighting for the truth?

      "I know I have to be tested as part of my job as all athletes do. But I refused the test because I am scared of needles, honest. Stuart Miller usually gets me out of these blood tests anyway, I tried to call him on my phone's direct-dial but he didn't answer. Normally they would just let me off any way, but someone, knowing how weak the ITF are on doping, finally got annoyed at it all and leaked this to the media, and now, solely because of that, they are punishing me! How unfair. Please let me off."

    2. "sounds good to me, no?" - Rafael Nadal

    3. I would be curious as to what their definition of "truth" is thse days. In tennis.

      Call me old-fashioned, but I always though it is defined as the opposite of lies...

      When did that change? How did I miss that? Why did I NOT get that memo?

    4. Could you please share the link for the quote above? thanks

  47. Players are seeking to sign a petition against the "draconian" drug testing methods:


    World No 1 Djokovic was reported to be the first to sign a petition seeking changes and some flexibility in the draconian anti-doping regulations to which players submit every day of the calendar year.

    "The players demand that the Tournament Supervisor or the ATP Tour Manager must be called to the doping control station if there are problems. No one should leave the room without providing samples if one of them has not been called. The players are worried: what happened to me could have happened to anyone of them.


    Unbelievable, they hardly get tested as it is. Didn't Troicki say that he had only had 5 blood tests in his entire career? Now players are signing petitions that would enable them to evade more testing. As if the 3 strikes in 18 months rule isn't pathetic enough.

    1. You see English is not their mother tongue - they confused "draconian" with "lax". They're protesting the woefully inadequate testing procedures.

      I applaud their efforts!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. "The ITF said Wednesday there would indeed probably be alterations next year to avoid any possible confusion"

      "The tennis anti-doping rules are likely to be changed in 2014 to say that, where a player refuses or fails to provide a sample (as Mr. Troicki did), the doping control officer should try to offer the player an opportunity to speak to the event supervisor or referee to confirm the player's responsibilities under the program," Stuart Miller, the ITF's anti-doping manager, told CNN.

      When asked if the change of thinking was due to the Troicki affair, Miller added: "I think it's fair to say that the Troicki case highlighted the issue.

      "Given this only happened in 2013, I think it's looking at the problem pretty quickly and trying to find a solution."


    4. My heart just weeps for poor Viktor.... Forced to live hand-to-mouth , on a pittance of $4.5 million (on-court) earnings, and then callously pressured into giving a blood sample, when he was feeling a bit off-colour.

      How much can one human be expected to endure!!!!.

    5. The thought of any player signing a petition about "draconian" drug testing in tennis makes me want to puke........

      "The players are worried: what happened to me could have happened to anyone of them"

      .........Yeah, if they break the rules, and refuse to give a doping control sample, they could be banned, as the rules clearly state (unless, of course, they're Serena Williams, and can play a "get out of panic-room" card.

    6. This development is truely sickening - notice how quickly Miller is proposing changes (to benefit players) when otoh his very own pogram has been the weakest of programs anyway and could see many MANY better alterations than this one.

      He is quick to alleviate ~harshness~ yet painfully slow, in fact, frozen when it comes to end the loopholes and cover ups = the REAL pressing problems?

      Aren't there any intelligent people in tennis left,srsly, where have they gone? Folks who get upset by what they are reading from their very own federation and some of their fellow players? Folks who did not get a full-on lobotomy before joining the tour...?

      Helloooooooo? Anybody?

      Just a quick reminder:

      Truth know means lying, in tennis-speak, while draconian is used as a euphemism for anything that does not please players in regards to testing.

      Draco, credit where credit is due, was the first ruler who ceased arbitrary oral laws and unregulated blood feuds and fought against general unawareness of laws among his populace by laying down the first written constitution of Athens. This codification was the beginning for a general law and a public monopoly on violence rather than unregulated despotism that existed before...Gratned his punishments were a tad hard - but reliable and no needle-phobia bs excuses allowed!

    7. The only players seeking to sign a petition are deluded Serbians, one banned and the other with a vested interest.

      Predictably, Troicki will receive his comeuppance at CAS.

    8. What "possible confusion" can there be for a player chosen to get tested, ITF?

      Also this:
      "The ITF may change one of its anti-doping rules because of the now-suspended Viktor Troicki’s contention that when he refused to take a drug test, he was unsure of rules surrounding his responsibilities."

      What "unsureness" can they possibly refer to?

      He has to give a blood sample. Period.

      Players do know how testing works, I would assume. Unless this one test did indeed follow the protocol and Troicki was understandably taken by surprise that his usual schtik somehow did not work this time around...

      And look at how quickly some players can organize a revolution and come up with a petitition!! Only to further protect their persecuted selves from those oh-so draconian testing regimes... Anyone speaking up for this is not honest about testing imo.

      Where are the ones who are serious about testing (or pretended to be) and feel those events are heading in the completely wrong direction?

      Murray? Federer? Curious to hear their thoughts on this turn of events...

      We are indeed running out of adjectives to describe bum-kneed Nadal, even worse though, I am lacking words to describe the entire comedy presented to us by the ITF these days...

    9. @ PG

      "Deluded Serbians" and perhaps Germans of Serbian origin......

      Andrea Petkovic....."I’m also one that says doping doesn’t really help you in tennis,” the German commented. “You can be the fittest guy in the world and lift 200 kilos in weightlifting, but it doesn’t make you a better tennis player. It doesn’t give you the feeling of the court, the placement."

  48. It would hardly be surprising if Nadal won his 11th title of the season in Beijing along with the no.1 ranking. All without playing the Australian Open. 63-3 so far. Undefeated on knee punishing hard courts. Let's see just how absurd this 'miracle' comeback can get.

    1. 10 titles including:
      2 Slams
      5 Masters
      4 Hard Court titles
      12 finals

      All on recovering knees; remember his team has already said that he is still not at 100%.

      It's already past absurd.

    2. We need some new adjectives.

  49. Also, what type of PR is this over on The Tennis Space?

    "Troicki’s management team have interviewed the player before the hearing."
    (So Troicki basically got to interview himself here and paint a bleak picture of his poor existence)

    Why did this PR get published?

    Did they get payed for it, at least?

    How come Simon Cambers did not conduct the interview?

    Whatever happened to journalistic independence - or dignity in general?

    This entire piece, well, eats me up, no?

  50. Petkovic says doping doesn't help, does she? She ought take Errani along to the Oxford Union and thrash the matter out with her. Stuart Millar and David Ferrer could go along for the ride as their respective seconds.