Thursday, September 12, 2013

Murray on Cilic

First, Mike Dickson at the Daily Mail reports: "Croatian captain Zeljko Krajan revealed that...Cilic is today set to begin a hearing before an independent appeals tribunal in London."

Second, Paul Newman at The Independent reports the following comments from Andy Murray on Cilic's case: "Everyone knows what's happening and he has clearly failed a drugs test, I just don't know why that can't come out. It's not that he's injured. I don't get that...I think it's too long for nobody to say he has failed a drugs test."

Update

Mike Dickson reports that "Marin Cilic is expected to tell a tennis appeal tribunal in London on Friday that his failed drugs test earlier this summer stems from a glucose supplement bought by his mother."

92 comments:

  1. Seems like Murray is going out of his way to make a point about how the ITF are handling doping.

    Makes me wonder if he knows some things that are not in the public domain.......

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    1. Yeah, Murray's been curiously outspoken about doping and doping controls lately. I still have some issues with Murray but at least he's speaking out on the issue when other big-names players have remained mum.

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    2. This is what tennis needs. Top players accepting that other top players have failed drug tests & how it should be exposed. Honestly, surprised Murray is the one being flat out open about Cilic b/c Murray himself is suspect. But he may be so frustrated at being in the shadow of Nadal who used to beat him a lot in semis of Grand Slams or Djoke who took away his limelight until he figured out how to beat him, only to have Nadal return & take away his Shining moment of Wimbly by having the greatest comeback in tennis history, possibly reclaiming number one ranking.
      Murray's frustration is a very good start to hoping for whistleblowers in tennis. We've been desperately waiting for someone on the inside to expose the covert operations of ITF & other anti-doping org.

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    3. If a relatively mediocre Cilic was taking drugs, surely it should pose a lot of questions about comeback from the dead Nadal or gluten free Djokovic from 2011? Someone, please say it out loud!

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    4. " Honestly, surprised Murray is the one being flat out open about Cilic b/c Murray himself is suspect."

      Just because he is a decent athlete doesn't mean he compares to Djokovic or Nadal. He gets tired much more than say Djokovic. In the Wimbledon final, had the match gone longer, Djokovic would've had the edge, despite his match against Del Potro.

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    5. I used to think Murray was suspect too because he complained so much about the testing and being woken up at the crack of dawn etc. but his route to that Wimbledon title was pretty easy since all of his major obstacles lost early and his opponent in the final played a marathon SF against Del Potro. He really needs to give Del Potro a pat on the back for doing him the favour twice, at the Olympics and Wimbledon. They must be best friends by now. But I still think something was fishy at Wimbledon this year, the way the players were dropping like flies. Was there something in the water? Almost seemed like the fix was in! 0_0

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    7. I think this is what tennis needs, vocal and open athletes, who voice their discontent with the current state of tennis.

      Normally I eyeroll when Murray is ranting on court, and yes, we have been critical about his statements in the past, yet he has been the only person who seems "in the know". I would like to encourage this process and hope he continues that path.

      Maybe his boot camps in Florida were clean and he actually put maximum work in to get ready. He seems dedicated and in his prime...

      @Hola

      I do think there must be other players who get frustrated from constantly hitting a wall and seeing these "Übermenschen" (superhumans)competeting in attrition battles these days.

      They must notice how top players (as well as lower-ranked) beat them on fitness time and time again depsite their own (legal) fitness level and skills.

      There was a female German shot-putter, Nadine Kleinert, who got denied better medals because the others were doping. According to her own count, she was betrayed an incredibly 13 (!!) times by her cheating opponents and only later got promoted up. She talked about her frustration openly. I think there must be many / some players in the top 100 as well who feel betrayed...

      I want to hear from them. I would want their opinion on:

      a) what makes it hard to speak up about certain things (pressures)
      b) how they feel about cheaters being protected - is that a positive protection they value?
      c) injury faking = flat out LYING to their peers and the public
      d) shady testing regimes
      e) speed-dail options to Dr. Miller when not happy about an upcoming test
      f) those fantastic explanations being presented when getting caught
      g) do they genrally have the feeling their federation is representing them well?
      h) why are TUEs not revealed publicly - so the audience as well as other players know what they are up against

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    8. Please, stop giving Murray credit. He was anti-testing, until Armstrong got caught.

      Since Nadal, and Murray, and others have become pro-testing, all at the same time (just after Armstrong's "confession"), it is clearly nothing more than a P.R. stunt.

      Murray (at 26) didn't just get good enough to beat the other dopers, and win two GSs. If he was clean, he would have shown it long before now.

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    9. Strange events aside, Murray won Wimbledon basically by leading Djokovic to desperation by means of running and retrieving à la Nadal.

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    10. "Murray (at 26) didn't just get good enough to beat the other dopers, and win two GSs. If he was clean, he would have shown it long before now."

      He showed it back in 2008.

      And the reason for his success was his forehand.

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  2. Looks like Cilic is rolling out the old standby, the tainted supplement excuse. When can we expect something novel, perhaps not quite as extreme as the WTA player who blamed her failed test on the hormones produced by a phantom pregnancy but nevertheless one that gives the punters and officials a different look to chew the cud over. I think a regulation banning the use of the tainted supplement excuse in future doping cases is well overdue. It's time these players came up with something new, something more convincing.

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    1. My all-time favorite bs excuse, right after Gasquets coke kissing, comes from a runner from Germany who got caught for EPO.

      She claimed she had heavy flow during her period - she was at her mother-in-laws house after training - and somehow - when opening the fridge and rummaging in it - her eyes fell on those ready-to-use syringes lying in box.
      On that box it said "vitamin-complex", she claimed. And, naturally, in the situation she found herself in, she thought, hey, let's shoot that up, it's only vitamins!

      So, feeling down & all that blood loss she simply stuck a needle in her buttocks and shot up those "vitamins"; coincidentally 4 days ahead of the German championships...

      And then she got tested positive for EPO!

      Story continues:

      Athlete now claims her mother in law, another coincidence, had EPO lying in her fridge... an old lady, as the runner admits, but she was prescribed EPO for some chronic condition. Note that the runners husband, by profession a doctor, how convenient, was busy in the basement, while she was shooting up EPO accidentally in the bathroom...Turns out, said husband put those EPO syringes in that box labelled vitamins, cause he was making room in that fridge for it rather croweded... So that EPO of her mother-in-law somehow got mixed in with the vitamins...


      http://www.faz.net/aktuell/sport/sportpolitik/doping/positive-dopingprobe-ich-habe-mir-die-spritze-gegeben-und-sie-weggeworfen-11795924.html

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    2. So after two months this is the best excuse Cilic can come up with? Laughable.

      Cilic is a douchebag pure and simple, Anyone who throws their mother under the bus and blames them for their positive test has few redeeming qualities. The sad fact is she'll probably go along with the lie in order to get her son off.

      The sadder fact is that the ITF will probably buy it.

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    3. They've got a Q.C. listening to all this tosh. As though it's all arcane wisdom, meant only for the initiated when, as Seeya points out, he's just chucked his mother under the bus.

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  3. Rumours a WTA spanish player has testted positive...my spanish is very poor but here the link:
    http://www.vozpopuli.com/deportes/31110-si-nuria-llagostera-dio-positivo-como-es-posible-que-haya-seguido-jugando

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    1. Spain's drug testing programm finally seems to be up and running - at least when it is concerning the lower-ranked players.


      Now Nadal next, please!

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    2. This story has not been taken up by many media outlets, which is unusual, and may take from it's credibility. In any case, posters on other forms have suggested that the test may have been for a recreational drug.

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    4. Spain is trying for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

      They know they lost the 2020 Summer Olympics bid because of the Puerto case and the judge's decision to have the blood bags destroyed. Look for Spain to suddenly have a lot of positives (low-level athletes of course) in the next couple of years so they can put a show on that they pretend to care about doping.

      @arcus:

      Yes, the rumor is that she tested positive for meth.

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    5. I had mentioned this story in an earlier post. The funny thing however, is I got the news from Nadal's publicist (tweet). So all these athletes being pro-testing, is nothing more the PR work, as GoldenAgeofDrugs had mentioned. They are probably being coached properly on what to say and what not to say. Not like we didn't suspect this, but a publicist tweeting this probably knows a whole lot.

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    6. Lance Armstrong’s representatives offered a $250,000 “donation” to the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2004, which was refused (predictably) as it constituted a clear conflict of interest for the organization. So, yes, dopers who think they won't get caught, are full of hubris, and know their PR strategies ......

      http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/lance-offered-six-figure-donation-usada-article-1.1235928#ixzz2enqDVihu

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    7. Nike was even involved, what did they offer? like a $500,000 offer to make some stuff go away?

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    8. Lance at his most sickening

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zad68VOxr8g

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0LuVwR--e0

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    9. The most sickening thing was the thousands of fans that parroted this same stuff over and over again. Even mentioning that Lance "might" be doping would trigger some type of chemical imbalance in their brains and they would get even more insane than Lance. Someone should make an archive of Lance fan boi rantings in various internet forums, it would be hilarious.

      I mean, I get why Lance lied -- it was for $100,000,000. But why did people get so emotional in defending him? What do they tell themselves now?

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    10. According to Marca, the spanish tennis federation confirmed the news. Nuria Llagostera tested positive at Stanford. She won't play again until the case is solved. She's got an appointment in London in two months to defend herself. Other sources talked about a positive for Methanphetamine but is not confirmed.

      In spanish: http://www.marca.com/2013/09/13/tenis/1379062627.html

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    12. Members of Lance's legal team saying stuff that made me furious and LOL and at the same time.........>30 minutes = eyepop

      This YT was recorded before Lance's confession but right after it became apparent that he was going down .

      I am speechless that this YT has only 1300 views, IMO, it is a must view for people who care about the issue.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KJnIn0GZ0s

      Kudos especially to Juliet Macur, from The New York Times; and Mark Fainaru-Wada, from ESPN also, who pushed the issue.

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    13. I hope there were many objections to the Spanish Olympics bid after the Operation Puerto farce and I also hope any further applications for these events are made subject to Spain coming clean and turning over the Fuentes bloodbags.

      Doping should not pay for anyone, including countries.

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    14. @ MTracy

      They might have found a new object for their frustrated feels: Nadal!!

      The truely humble Spanish bull, no?, whose very own federation has an uncanny resemblance to the UCI ;)

      Naturally, they fell for that.

      Yet, they really wish Nadal would finally start having bracelets...

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  4. What a low-life...blaming on his mother...

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  5. Ahhhhh! Mommy, dearest...




    * Adds bs oedipal explanation to an already too long list of bs failed test excuses.

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    1. The Oedipus explanation. Priceless, just priceless! I love it!

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  6. This is the USADA tutorial website for athletes that deals with supplements....

    http://www.usada.org/supplement411

    Scary stuff, and if I were an athlete I would never take a supplement I didn't know was 100% safe, after looking at those videos.

    ........and this is the WADA athlete guide.....

    The liability rule makes it pretty clear that Cilic will be held responsible, even if he took the substance in good faith. He's trying to save face obviously..... This is also consistent with his decision to stop playing immediately, and get his ban time over ASAP.

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    1. Take a peep at the ITF anti-doping player information videos. We all know the ITF testing programme is a joke but the ITF treats it all like a joke too. The cartoons were written by one Stuart Miller!

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  7. forgot the link.....
    http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/Anti-Doping_Community/Athlete_Guide_2008_EN.pdf

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  8. In 2007, the ITF and Stuart Miller advocated announcing provisional suspensions. See http://www.itftennis.com/media/120800/120800.pdf answering question "So a player would be unable to retain his or her anonymity before any tribunal?"

    Why has their position changed?

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  9. I couldn't find the piece you highlighted.

    Nonetheless, the real scandal is the ITF secrecy policy itself which has nothing to do with WADA or WADA-imposed compliancy. The ITF are maintaining this secrecy policy on their own authority alone, a position now left in tatters by the Cilic case as it shows itself to be both wrong and utterly unsustainable too.

    The ITF are like the British civil service. These folk love secrecy for its own sake, a secrecy which, ultimately, does nothing for the sport but protects all the wrong people. They cannot cope with the internet age where the doper's name quickly emerges into the public domain. They are left there standing like ostriches, head in the sand, hapless, effectively supporting a player's decision to tell petty lies.

    Worse even, this secrecy policy leaves a tennis player having to decide himself whether to come clean and admit a failed test or try and keep it all hushed up, complete with lies and phony excuses like a bad knee or his ex-trainer saying "he's tested positive for elevated glucose levels", tosh like that. It's crap and it's time they stopped these farces, as Andy Murray himself has rightly pointed out.

    It is both procedurally wrong and immoral in my view for a sports governing body to effectively tip the player into a position where he feels he has to tell lies. It is also holding the public in contempt. What if, instead of Cilic, this had been Murray himself or Federer? Imagine the furore.

    The present ITF position in not announcing a player's provisional suspension and allowing a player to lie about his state of affairs to the public, is a totally untenable position.

    Paging Dr Miller, paging Dr Miller.

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  11. This is my first comment on THASP.

    I'd like to start out by mentioning that I've been a Nadal fan since he won his first French Open, but I'm not someone who buries his head in the sand, refusing to face reality. After reading this site for the past few days, I no longer feel like I can trust that tennis is clean. The fact that the ITF polices itself means it has zero incentive to figure out whether the best players are really clean. I'm not quite convinced by THASP's evidence that Nadal is a doper, but after reading it, I will never be able to watch Nadal again without wondering. As a Nadal fan, that sucks. I'm sure it also sucks if you're a fan of anyone who's lost to Nadal.

    That said, there is something I don't get. Why do so many on here feel the need to question Nadal's talent? A frequent claim around here is that all he has going for him is speed, strength, and stamina. Obviously, those are strong points for him, but I've been wracking my brains trying to figure out exactly what shot or aspect of the game he lacks. About the only thing I can come up with is "hitting the ball flat". Whether he's "all natural" or not, I don't see how you can say with any honesty that he doesn't hit all the shots in tennis extremely well. For example, please show we a player with better volleys or a better overhead. I agree that Nadal's forehand would not be nearly as effective if he didn't have such strength to generate all that spin, but you really can't use that argument with his slice backhand or dropshot or even really his topspin backhand (which is not nearly as insane as his forehand). There's no question Federer has more finesse and is more elegant and efficient, but I don't really agree that Nadal is lacking in real tennis talent compared with anyone in the game.

    Anyway, enough about my opinions. I thought some of you might find this article of interest:
    http://www.daviscup.com/en/news/156511.aspx

    Particularly, this snippet:

    And any hope that Sergiy Stakhovsky had of newly-crowned US Open Champion Rafael Nadal feeling the effects of his transatlantic journey were quickly dispelled as the Spaniard won 60 60 64.

    Spanish captain Alex Corretja could not quite believe what he was seeing from his star man. “I think he’s from a different planet,” he said.

    “This is almost impossible what he’s done today, coming from a different surface and time schedule. He spends the whole summer in the States and he came here and won nil and nil in the first two sets. I think only very special people can do that and Rafa is one of them.”

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    1. Nadal is talented but talent is a relative measure. Would you say his talent allowed him to beat Djokovic in Monday's final? When both players were at their best it was clear as to who held the upper hand and whose talent was pushing through on a fast hard court at least. It is also pretty clear as to why Djokovic could not sustain his level.

      Now Djokovic is also a potential doper; consider other players who have even more natural talent than these two. Tennis isn't just about talent, but you would see uber-talented players breaking through once in a while against the top flight. Names like Krajicek, Safin, Mecir come to mind. This rarely EVER happens against Nadal. And you can see why; Nadal, as he did in Monday's final will return the ball time and again with interest until the cows come home. This is what ultimately sets up his volleys and overheads - its not like Nadal often hits volleys that require a lot of skill because he sets up the point so well from the ground, usually after turning defense into offense. Overheads also depend a lot on body structure a lot for positioning, a stable base and maximum output. Nadal misses less overheads than Pete Sampras did, who had a much looser elbow. You would have to think it is the rest of his body that compensates for this.

      Anyway, refer to his dip in the fall of 2009 to see what Nadal is when he appears to lack strength and speed. Woeful - I cannot agree with the assessment that this was due to a lack of confidence. If you have won several slams belting the ball with power (in terms of speed and spin) you would resort to that strategy at least once in such a long period even if you were lacking confidence. The most obvious strategy for a person who mentally struggles on court is to just hit out and go for broke.

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    2. Secondly, what is the explanation for his miraculous comebacks from injuries and his peaks and troughs in performance through the years? Also, for the lack of obvious decline while being one of the most frequently injured and physical players ever?

      It doesn't add up. Talent doesn't really need to be factor in the Nadal doping equation. The dubious nature of his career swings, his explanations and the existence of some feats that are improbable enough.

      We can choose to look away from all this until he is proven guilty and say he is superman. But we did that with Jones and Armstrong as well. I'd say their examples are enough to show us there is a pretty huge chance that Nadal is a doper.

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    3. > Would you say his talent allowed him to beat Djokovic in Monday's final?

      Having watched the 2012 Australian Open final, I don't think there's much between the two in stamina (as you say, the Djoker is a suspect as well). In my mind, what made the difference in this year's US Open was Rafa's superior net game and mental toughness. I'd say the same thing for this year's Montreal semi and French Open semi. (Interestingly, the one loss Nadal had to Djokovic this year was on very damp clay, something we know favors Djokovic.) Djokovic is definitely the better returner (many would say the best in history) and his ground strokes are more penetrating (though less "heavy"), but he plays with slightly less margin than Nadal. Djokovic can go on a tear where he's just unstoppable, but he can't maintain the level of intensity that requires indefinitely. If Djokovic is more talented than Nadal, I wouldn't say it's by much.

      > its not like Nadal often hits volleys that require a lot of skill because he sets up the point so well from the ground

      Certainly, but the same could be said for pretty much every player in the modern game. If you don't hit a good approach, your done. That said, I have seen Nadal *consistently* make very tough volleys off his shoelaces, with excellent control and touch. He really is underrated as a net player.

      > Nadal misses less overheads than Pete Sampras did, who had a much looser elbow. You would have to think it is the rest of his body that compensates for this.

      As a player, I know how important leg strength is for getting in position for an overhead, so you definitely have a point. However, I can't resist saying that in the last few meetings between Nadal and Djokovic, Djokovic has botched some overheads on critical points, Nadal, on the other hand, has been a rock.

      > Anyway, refer to his dip in the fall of 2009 to see what Nadal is when he appears to lack strength and speed. Woeful

      I remember the loss to Soderling, but I can't say I was following the smaller tournaments in the fall, so I really can't comment except to say he was semifinalist twice, a finalist once, completely bombed the world tour finals (on indoor hard), and cleaned up at Davis Cup (on indoor clay). On paper, at least, it doesn't sound *that* bad.

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    4. > miraculous comebacks from injuries and his peaks and troughs in performance through the years

      His tendonitis at least, is a chronic injury that causes pain but doesn't necessarily hinder movement. By way of example, I've suffered from patella-femoral syndrome for years. When it flairs up, it doesn't limit my range of motion or strength, it just simply hurts. Eventually, the pain becomes unbearable, and I just have to stop. If I reduce the stress on it for a few weeks, the pain mostly goes away (though never completely), and I can go back to working out and playing tennis full bore. So, if you think it's inconceivable that Rafa couldn't possibly make an amazing comeback following a flair-up of tendonitis, my personal experience would say you're wrong.

      Combine this with the fact that Nadal has access to a level of medical care and physical therapy I could only dream about, I'm not surprised he's been able to come back strong. As for your claim of no obvious decline, I actually disagree. I'd say he's definitely lost a step or two from his first couple French Opens (where he was just sizzling fast), but more importantly, his absences from the tour seem to be getting longer and longer, which is an indication that his flair-ups are getting progressively worse. (Incidentaly, you could also argue that his long absences are prolonging his career, spreading out the wear and tear over a longer period of time.)

      As for peaks and troughs, this is an argument I really don't get. You can chalk up Federer's horrendous 2013 to age, but how do you explain Murray's incredibly lackluster performance since winning Wimbledon? I play tennis, and I have known the highest highs and the lowest lows (I'm speaking strictly about my playing here :)), and I don't know anyone who hasn't. When I think back on my own peaks and troughs, confidence has always been the dominant factor.

      Again, I'm not saying Nadal is clean. He definitely has some suspicious associations, his arms are suspiciously big, and his strength, fitness, and endurance are suspiciously impressive. But I just don't buy the notion that all or most his injuries are fake (I'm sure every player lies about being injured from time to time to avoid suspension from a subsequent event). For one thing, given how he plays, how could he not have injury issues? I also believe his fitness regime, at least in his younger years, was among the most rigorous in the history of tennis (to the point of being insane). There have been reports of his practices being at an intensity and duration equivalent to a five-set match. That would be like running 26 miles to prepare for a marathon. If there is any truth to that, it's at least conceiveable he could last as long as he does on the court without synthetic help.

      All that said, I'm sure you'll agree that tennis needs an independent and much more rigorous anti-doping regine, whether it's to clear our favorite player's good name or to confiscate trophies from the cheaters. If it turns out that Nadal has been lying about being clean, he's also been lying about who he is fundamentally: extremely reverant of other players, always focused on the moment rather than the future, never expressing overconfidence or overselling his achievements, and very anti-drug (remember how he reacted when it came out that Agassi had experimented with meth)? Some would say Armstrong put up an extremely convincing front, but I always saw him as kind of dickish. Nadal just doesn't hit me that way, but you never know.

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    5. > Having watched the 2012 Australian Open final, I don't think there's much between the two in stamina (as you say, the Djoker is a suspect as well).

      I think there is a general consensus that Djokovic is not the player he was in 2012 AO. And this does seem related to less power, less stamina etc. I personally feel he cut down on the doping following that final - perhaps realising the risks involved were not worth it.

      > On paper, at least, it doesn't sound *that* bad.

      Rewatch the season again please. It wasn't about Nadal losing but how utterly poor he looked while he did.

      > That said, I have seen Nadal *consistently* make very tough volleys off his shoelaces, with excellent control and touch. He really is underrated as a net player.

      Nadal is good at net but you're talking like it is a stock play that helps him win matches. I would like to see his percentage of points won at net. The majority of the points are won from the back with serious power and athleticism coming to the fore.

      > So, if you think it's inconceivable that Rafa couldn't possibly make an amazing comeback following a flair-up of tendonitis, my personal experience would say you're wrong.

      Was it definitely tendonitis that was the problem? Doesn't seem like it requires SEVEN months of rest to me. Secondly, how many times has Nadal changed his story. Tendonitis to ligament strain etc. And which knee was it again?

      >If it turns out that Nadal has been lying about being clean, he's also been lying about who he is fundamentally

      Well you don't seriously believe the humble wishwash do you? I never bought into that rubbish, and seriously never did for Federer eithe. Its just good PR - that's all it is. Dopers are compulsive liars - and why is this such a stretch? Obama is a great liar, Armstrong was - how is Rafa the exception?

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    6. You sound extremely reasonable to me. I'm a Fedfan, but I see Nadal as the mentally strongest athlete I've ever seen. His desire to win is unequalled, and he is of course one of the hardest working tennis pros ever. He might go down as the most successful tennis player ever, if he can maintain his level another 2-3 years. He might not be the most talented ever, but it goes without saying that he is one of the most exceptional players ever. Doping might just be this little add-on, this 'plus 10%' that gives him the edge by boosting his already impressive capabilities. If you ask me, I find it easier to believe that Federer is doping (or has been), than to believe that Nadal is clean. Where there is smoke, there is a fire, and I have seen a lot of smoke around Nadal's career. This is a real pity, because as you say, it has us all wonder what is going on, and a shadow of doubt reduces the enjoyment of the spectacles.

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    7. It'd be interesting to see whether or not Nadal's "utterly poor looking" losses in the 2009 season are indicative of the level of play he'd been able to maintain without PED use. He sure does have talent (i.e. his forehand technique, not very prone to UE, solid net play), but his game might benefit from PED use in an unduly fashion compared to others. Djokovic could possibly be only a tad more talented than Nadal, but he's surely been among the best even before his 2011 rise to invincibility, i.e. without supposed help from doping.

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    8. Djokovic is far from the player he was in 2011. Definitively less power and stamina, which leads to him doing more mistakes as well. In my opinion he has considerably toned down the doping. Unlike Nadal he's not a complete moron and knows that there is life after tennis which is not worth risking for a few more titles.Nadal on the other hand cares only about one thing: winning at whatever cost. I pity the man who doesn't have a clue that he's setting himself up for a miserable second part of his life. He doesn't know what this staff does to your body, it destroys it. And when your health goes and you start feeling awful, all the trophies in your cabinet does not make much of a difference.

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    9. @Beacon Tripper,

      > Rewatch the season again please. It wasn't about Nadal losing but how utterly poor he looked while he did.

      Well then please send me a DVD of his matches :) Seriously, I believe you that he didn't look good. Nadal's PR department would probably blame his poor play on depression over his parents divorce. I'm sure you wouldn't buy that, but I throw it out there as a possibility.

      > Nadal is good at net but you're talking like it is a stock play that helps him win matches.

      His net play helps him win the big points, which definitely helps him win matches.

      I'm not sure if this proves anything, but here are some stats from the final and semi of the US Open:

      Player | # of net approaches | % won
      -- final --
      Nadal | 23 | 74%
      Djokovic | 36 | 61%
      -- semi --
      Nadal | 22 | 79%
      Gasquet | 35 | 69%

      > Doesn't seem like it requires SEVEN months of rest to me.

      I have a friend who got carpel tunnel syndrome from spending way too many hours a day typing, and it took him over a year off before he could type again without serious pain and numbness. Again, chronic, overuse injuries are very different than acute sprains/strains/tears.

      > Tendonitis to ligament strain etc. And which knee was it again?

      Perhaps you should consider watching this New York Times analysis of Rafa's knee:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2U7MIP7fg0

      The forces his knee has to withstand almost guarantees he will be afflicted with multiple injuries. Whether he's doping or not, I'd be very surprised if he doesn't have completely wrecked knees by the time he retires.

      The fact that he was once found to have an injury on the opposite side that he was limping on is a little suspicious.

      > Well you don't seriously believe the humble wishwash do you?

      I'm just saying that Nadal's persona (whether real or fake) is less dickish than Armstrong's (not that I've seen a ton of Armstrong interviews). It's not just Nadal's humility, it's when he says thing like, "I learned during all my career to enjoy suffering." That's not exactly your standard PR.

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    10. Errr, the king of pain is the latest line to glorify his playing through the pain - turning him into the ultimate martyr.

      All this effort without ever addressing the pink elephant: pain because of over-training courtesy of PEDs and maybe too zealous obedience on behalf of humble Rafa to his uncle's regimes?

      Regarding the tendonitis discussion...I'll just chip in that one common treatment for it is the medication with steroids... So it is fair to assume that Nadal will have a TUE for steroids. Which would come in handy, don't you agree?

      Also, yes, it is chronic and flares up and gets better - but only after not playing/stressing it. Which in Nadal's case would mean his muscle mass would reduce significantly during assumed the non-play period of 6 months. Again, to prohibit that, PEDs would be of great help to maintain the level. This would undoubtedly give him a huge advantage (=extend his career), as you pointed out, for he would be rested and could play for some stretch - and devaste the field as he did this season. So he has a career that is extended artificially by PEDs. Without them, he won't be able to play, that is, if we buy into his knee condition being real and not simply fabricated to cover up a provisional suspension...

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    11. When he says "suffering" I don't believe he's talking about playing through pain from his injuries. I just think he means pushing himself to the limit.

      > pain because of over-training courtesy of PEDs

      Certainly a possibility. But he could also be over-training courtesy of will, determination, and obsession.

      > I'll just chip in that one common treatment for it is the medication with steroids

      Are you referring to PRP here or something else?

      > would mean his muscle mass would reduce significantly during assumed the non-play period of 6 months

      Unless he's able to continue his training and physical therapy in ways that don't stress his knee (which doesn't seem particularly unlikely).

      > if we buy into his knee condition being real and not simply fabricated to cover up a provisional suspension

      But why would disappear for *months*? And why are his absences seemingly getting longer? Does it really take half a year for the tribunal to find someone innocent? And if they did not find him innocent and forced him to finish out his suspension, wouldn't this information have been released? You could argue that the ITF wanted to keep it covered up because Nadal is too valuable to tarnish, but if they're that corrupt, why bother removing their cash cow from the tour in the first place? I suppose it's possible the ITF is only semi-corrupt, but this just seems like a bit too much of a stretch compared with the simpler answer: he was injured. And, as I said earlier, given the tremendous force his knee endures (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2U7MIP7fg0), how could he *not* have injury issues?

      (BTW, I agree with your comment below that provisional suspensions shouldn't even exist. Transparency and independence are really the only way to make sure the sport is clean. As far as I can tell, we have neither.)

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    12. I was referring to tendonitis, which commonly uses steroids as part of the treatment.

      At least from football I know that physical therapy would be mostly done in a swimming pool... And on top of my head, I could not think of a way to train the muscles in my flared up knee other than actually bend the knee in some form of leg press... But I disgress, the point was steroids are commonly used in sports to preserves one's form and it is highly likely he did too. Yet, I certainly admit, we don't know, so I am guilty of speculating.

      As for the absence, you explained it already nicely. Either to get an advantage by resting and cycling to then get ready to get those slam wins courtesy to his natural will, determination and obsession (storyline here: Nadal,the obsessed, mono-focused maniac, the freak, the OCD-personality etc.) or maybe the ban was in fact swept under the carpet by the ITF? From how the ITF acts in the Cilic case, it is a possibility, also looking at the issues WADA/Pound had with the ITF concering compliance.

      Yet, the option of him simply being injured... I would have bought it, if he had not played so ruthlessly 60-3 and 10: 2 this year all with a bum knee.

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    13. > Yet, the option of him simply being injured... I would have bought it, if he had not played so ruthlessly 60-3 and 10: 2 this year all with a bum knee.

      It's definitely remarkable, but still not out of the realm of possibility. It's possible the PRP treatments (plus all the rest and therapy) actually worked well enough to buy Nadal a year or two before his next big flair-up. He might also be relying on pain killers and cortisone injections, allowing him to play without any hindrance for quite a while (a la Agassi toward the end of his career).

      Also, there are also reasons to be skeptical of the resting/cycling theory. For example, would resting and cycling really require seven months if he were completely healthy to begin with? If he is trying to amass as many majors as possible (who isn't?), why would he choose to miss both the US Open and Australian Open? If his knees are really prefect, why did he go down in the first round of Wimbledon this year? During the hard court season, why did he fixate so hard on returning more aggressively and shortening the points if he's not worried about his knees holding up?

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    14. The Wimbledon loss seems to be one of those things making people go "Oh his knees are still bum - his story is plausible". And yet somehow his knees were the cause for his loss to Darcis, and never hindered his movement against Djokovic on two occasions during the hard court season. What boggles my mind is how he stays so confident while moving to some balls - people who have had injuries are usually not so confident - it can tend to play on their minds a bit.

      > If he is trying to amass as many majors as possible (who isn't?), why would he choose to miss both the US Open and Australian Open?

      I think its a lot more than just amassing majors with Nadal. He keeps playing out the suffering and come back from behind card. The press makes it sound like he's the ultimate warrior and he may have won more majors if he wasn't injured. Some people have labelled him the GOAT - ahead of Federer and Sampras - in spite of the fact that he's behind both on several stats.


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    15. > What boggles my mind is how he stays so confident while moving to some balls

      I worry about the wear and tear he must be suffering every time he makes one of his extreme movements, but I still contend that he has the type of injury that can lie dormant for long periods than flair up very badly, requiring long periods of rest and rehabilitation.

      > He keeps playing out the suffering and come back from behind card.

      This is a pretty far-fetched explanation. Nadal loves to play, especially for his country. He was visibly crushed to miss the Olympics. I just don't see him sitting out 7 months solely to bask in the glow of an impressed media.

      > Some people have labelled him the GOAT - ahead of Federer and Sampras

      I wouldn't label him the GOAT just yet, but if he gets to 16-18 majors, he definitely gets to be in that conversation (unless he is found to be doping).

      > in spite of the fact that he's behind both on several stats.

      He's also ahead of the others on several stats (for example, he has the record for most masters victories and he has a winning record against all top 20 players in the world).

      But let's not get into the whole GOAT can of worms, because that never ends. The reason I commented on here is that I believe THASP has raised legitimate doubts about Nadal, and I'm one Nadal fan who is not closing my eyes to that. I still think there's some probability that Nadal is genuine, though, and I don't agree that he's faked all his injuries or that, without the drugs he's supposedly taking, he wouldn't even be skilled enough to even be a professional tennis player. Those kind of statements actually turn away Nadal fans who might otherwise be genuinely concerned about doping in tennis. The bottom line is that the ITF needs to get tough. If they don't, we'll never even have a chance of answering the GOAT question.

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    16. Fair enough. I can see your points and they are good but my gut feeling tells me Nadal is a doper and the trends that point to it are not smoke without fire.

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    17. "please show we a player with better volleys or a better overhead"

      Lol.

      There are tons of players who volley better than him.

      And his overhead isn't better than Federer's, Tsonga's or Del Potro's. (with Gasquet as an honorable mention)

      Nadal's talent isn't that great that you could attribute most of his success to it.

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    18. I think Djokovic is still juicing, but I do agree that he seems to be doing it to a lesser extent than before. He can still wear down his opponents in marathon matches without breaking a sweat, but he does not seem to have the same powers of recovery like he used to. That being said, I do believe his level of play in the Wimbledon and the US Open final would have been enough to beat anyone but his super-charged opponents that day.

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    1. In my opinion, Nadal's unique style of play allied to supreme stamina, gets him those victories over opponents like Djokovic, supreme players in their own right. His extreme topspin is actually a relatively safe shot whereas the aggressive, flatter shots of his opponents come with a greater chance of breaking down first in the rally. No more than that really. It is the ground stroke equivalent of the Sampras serve. Sampras was known to impart levels of spin on the ball that no one else came near to matching. I think Nadal is the same and that in turn comes down to his unusual forehand technique. Added to which he basically uses a forehand on both sides as he is not a natural right-handed player. He is a freak of nature really.

      In tennis drugs get used for injury rehab, training and recovery. The anti-doping testing is administered by the ITF, a relatively weak governing body. The real power in the pro game is held by the WTA, ATP and cash-rich grand slam tournament committees. Its testing programme is largely a fig-leaf exercise and there is every reason for a player to use. The name of the game these days is use or lose. A stark choice.




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    2. Excellent points. Nadal's game is allied to the changes tennis has undergone and to supreme physical prowess. Djokovic may well be doping as much as Nadal, but with his flatter strokes will always be prone to errors more than Nadal, and looping them in with his technique would not be as effective.

      I am of the view that all of the "big 4" are potential dopers or doped in the past. The case for Federer doping is weak and has weakened considerably with recent results coming into the picture but it is a possibility.

      The problem isn't just Nadal only I guess. It is a wider problem with the "evolution" of the game.

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    3. @Peter Gibson was too quick! I was trying to move this comment up to my original thread. Here is the new location for the comment that was deleted:

      http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/2013/09/murray-on-cilic.html?showComment=1379148308436#c5605103469689956195

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    4. Yeah, Peter Gibson is "unnaturally" fast. His response times are just "not normal." That type of responding is going to end his career early from carpel tunnel -- unless of course he is a total doper.

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  14. - Nadal's forehand is not possible without tremendous upper body strength. He puts more energy into his forehand than anyone has ever done before (if you add speed plus spin). Note that his "technique" has him bending backwards at the point of contact. This eliminates any power being transfered from his legs (which are much stronger than his arms, since the legs hold his body up). This is more a "Physical talent" than a "tennis talent".

    - Nadal's "mental strength" largely comes from the fact that he knows he can get to any ball, and outlast his opponent. Again a "physical talent".

    - Nadal's serve speed was typically below 110 mph for the first couple of years he played on the tour. It now fluctuates between 110 mph and 120 mph, magically peaking at the USO, and Wimbledon (especially the later rounds). I am not aware of any other player "managing" their serve in this manner. So now what was a weakness, is now a strength. Again, what may be a "physical talent".

    - He has been quite consistent at the net, although he doesn't use his net game much (he doesn't have to). But who is to say that his net game would not suffer, if his arm strength decreased(assuming he is using stength enhancing drugs now). Who knows how much of this is "tennis talent", and how much is "physical talent" ?


    Those of us who have watched tennis for years (most Nadal fans seem to have become fans more recently), can recognize the difference between Nadal's game, and what we traditionally called "talent".

    It is just my opinion, but I strongly suspect that without PEDs, Nadal doesn't have the "tennis specific" talent to make it as a professional tennis player, let alone, be considered as the "GOAT". He depends on his physical advantages far too much. If I am right, then Nadal is as big a fraud as Lance Armstrong.

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    1. Whether Nadal has been doping or not, I think it's pretty undisputed that he works extremely hard. You seem to be implying that *most* of his physicality is due to drugs rather than the insane training and practice regime he's been known to follow. Doping would certainly provide a good boost, but it's not like he couldn't possibly have very good upper body strength without synthetic help. It's all a question of degree, and I don't think any of us can know how much of a difference PEDs make. That said, I wish we didn't have to wonder.

      > Note that his "technique" has him bending backwards at the point of contact. This eliminates any power being transfered from his legs

      Interesting...Would you say this is true of his backhand (which looks more conventional to me) or just his forehand? Do his legs at least contribute to the spin he generates? I'd love to see a source for this analysis.

      > Nadal's "mental strength" largely comes from the fact that he knows he can get to any ball, and outlast his opponent.

      I'd say that's part of it, but I think he has a level of focus I haven't seen since, perhaps, Michael Chang. I also don't see him getting down on himself the way Murray and Djokovic do (Federer just doesn't show much emotion, period). When's the last time Nadal smashed a racket on court? Where's the 'roid rage?

      > I am not aware of any other player "managing" their serve in this manner.

      I really don't get all the chatter over Nadal's serve. Whether he hits it 110 or 120, it's simply a very good lefty spin serve. On clay, it makes sense to emphasize the spin, and on hard, it makes sense to flatten it out a bit. At the 2010 US Open, he flattened it out even more and gained 10 or so MPH but at the expense of first serve percentage. I'm a lefty and I don't really flatten it out too often, but I know how to, and there's no question it boosts my MPH when I do. There are definitely suspicious things on Nada's resume, but the changes in his serve speed can easily be explained by spin.

      > who is to say that his net game would not suffer, if his arm strength decreased

      Volleys are more about timing and touch than strength, in my opinion. Nadal has shown great touch and accuracy at net--it's not like he's batting the ball like Serena.

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    2. >it's all a question of degree, and I don't think any of us can know how much of a difference PEDs make. <

      Well, there are numerous studies out there documenting the advantages say of anabolic steroids, and they all found out that PEDs DO make a difference.

      Why else would entire teams in soccer have a secret illegal accounts to pay for doping, like Real Sociedad did, by the way a Spanish league team. Because they payed hundreds of thousands for placebos?

      In all fairness, this blog hase moved beyond the notion of Ped's not making the difference in sports. Because they do. Lance was only a mediocre journeyman before he fell into the magic potion and devasted his competitors.

      >he has a level of focus I haven't seen since, perhaps, Michael Chang.<

      Well, looking at my GOAT list and Chang is, despite his "focus", not on that list. You do know that an outstanding level of focus may also be due to Ritalin, which increases dopamin...

      >but the changes in his serve speed can easily be explained by spin.

      But then again it could also be explained by having the necessary power to produce it, especially deep into a game.

      Regarding Nadal's volleys, I think they often happen after a killer approach shot (favoring the physical side) so they are merely the finishing touch.

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    3. > Well, there are numerous studies out there documenting the advantages say of anabolic steroids, and they all found out that PEDs DO make a difference.

      What I was trying to say was, you can't claim that Nadal with PEDs would be a GOAT candidate, while Nadal without PEDs would not even be a professional tennis player. This is what @GoldenAgeOfDrugs was claiming. Of course PEDs make a difference, and they need to be rooted out of the sport (even if it means I have to find a new favorite player), but I don't agree that Nadal would be *nothing* without that extra boost. If he is doping now, though, I think it's safe to say he wouldn't be a GOAT candidate.

      > Well, looking at my GOAT list and Chang is, despite his "focus", not on that list.

      Looking at my red herring list, your statement is definitely on that list :) My point was that focus could make the difference in very close matches, not that focus alone is all it takes to win.

      > Regarding Nadal's volleys, I think they often happen after a killer approach shot

      Yes, of course (as with anyone in the modern game), but as I said above, I've seen him *consistently* make perfectly placed drop volleys off his shoelaces. You can claim his forehand is what it is because of his strength, but I think Nadal deserves more credit than people give him for his abilities at net. His drop shots are also excellent.

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    4. His drop shots are the ultimate punisher shots, which he exectues very well, undoubtedly. Certainly, he did not get these from supplements alone.

      Yet, I get the feeling with you that you still try to redeem your fave by pulling the skill card, which is understandable, because, well, he is your fave. Were most people would not describe Nadals game as per se skill-based. This is really not what springs to mind, I think. Though this does not preclude him having the skills to play his very own game. I think in terms of PEDs, I regard his game as a form of co-evolution. When EPO was hitting the sports scene, it must have also arrived in tennis. Now if we assume Nadal's skills and EPO (and some steroids on the side) at some point in 2005 joined forces, they, in coöperation, did indeed created a wonderful creature that adapted his game to the newly found strength to have and expand that game in the first place...trained harder than all the other teenagers in his group etc pp

      Concerning drop shots, I would like to make the argument that the right, deadly drop shot comes mostly from timing - seeing your opponent stuck way behind the baseline, and disguise (=skill) and obvs execution/touch (=skill). I assume that most players have learned the mere succesion of movements required to execute the shot over the course of their training. So practically, every top 100 player could possibly produce that shot. It is a whole different affair if they could do it during the match. To set that up nicely, you need to drive your opponent deep behind the baseline first. Which again would greatly be aided by having the power to achieve that...say, in the 5th set...

      Anyway, we might going a bit in circles here, for I am not saying Nadal is only PEDs. But he might be avarage if the PEDs are gone, like Armstrong.

      I would volunteer to say that Nadal's game is less dependend on touch (=skill), we can all agree on that, courtesy to his punishing power-top spin game he pust on display and his seemingly never-tiring ability to constantly find the lines/play margins against the best defenders in the game...Add the racquet size and the help he gets from slowing down surfaces... Again, here is where PEDs would come in handy to make aid his game style, or in fact make it possible in the first place.

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    6. > Yet, I get the feeling with you that you still try to redeem your fave by pulling the skill card, which is understandable, because, well, he is your fave.

      I think the bottom line is that I've enjoyed watching Nadal play since the first time I saw him at the French Open nine years ago, and I've enjoyed watching him improve many aspects of his game since then. If your theory is correct, and doping has always been a part of his game, he deserves to have everything he's ever earned stripped, just as with Lance Armstrong. My only points are that (1) there isn't enough evidence to condemn Nadal at this time and (2) if he has been doping all this time, he still could have developed into a very good professional tennis player anyway (though most likely not a GOAT candidate).

      Obviously, we can continue arguing the fine points, but the only way we'll really know the truth is if the ITF gets serious. Let's hope that happens.

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    8. I agree wholeheartedly with the last sentiment you expressed - yes, I hope we live to see that happen. The ITF is overripe for busting. Even their blood-testing is not going to save them once someone is blowing that whistle.

      I know there is no first hand evidence, sadly, no one found blood bags in the trash cans in a player's hotel room...so of course in that sense Nadal and all the others are free of all crimes.

      The only means we have is to look at the facts - testing figures, statements from officials and anything, bits, tweets, performances for possible clues that add to the picture.

      Add to that combined deductive skills of THASP, common sense and a decent reasoning faculty and I personally end up with: something is rotten in the state of tennis.

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  15. The ITF have a policy of not announcing positive tests in advance of an official hearing, and I'm sure Murray knows this. I believe this is reasonable in principal.

    An accused athlete has a right to prepare and present a defense. If the panel ultimately adjudicates that there was no wrong-doing, then months of being hounded by the press would have been unfair.

    Ergo, I'm not sure what Murray is getting at. Unless it's the fact that the test result was leaked and speculation in the aftermath was worse for tennis than coming out with the facts earlier....

    I would like to see the ITF decrease the time between the test and the hearing, and not let lawyers drag it out.

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    2. I think I have to disagree here, the current process allows for cover-ups - for you never know what the athlete brings forward to clear the charges after the tribunal let's him/her get away with it. In fact, you never hear about the whole hearing. I think this needs to change.

      And the only way is by making the whole process transparent throughout, for who can say that the hearing is not partial (due to their very own interests/investment) and readily accepts fishy TUEs? Currently, we don't know on which basis players claim their innocence (well, we know the Cilic claim, who throws his dearest mother under the bus, only because it got leaked).

      Transparency would guarantee more fairness, I believe, for it would put pressure on the tribunal to act according to the protocol while under the eyes of the public.No fuck ups and lame ass excuses allowed!

      Any athlete who can bring evidence forward to clear charges will not be condemmed by the public, I think, in fact, it would have a positive effect, for we, the audience as well as fellow competitors, can finally trust the legal process for obvious bs would not pass here.

      In addition, it would help to make visible to what extent the game is already infested by shady TUEs or dubious medical procedures and as a result might start a public debate about the state of tennis after having had the chance to look at the evidence and follow the tribunal closely. It might be an eye opener to see to what extent some players benefit from TUEs. Also, to understand the chemical side of today's game.

      I think this should not happen behind closed doors, considering the ITFs sorry-looking past in prosecuting cheats succesfully...

      Srsly, reconsider that. Do you trust those folks in finding justice?

      I think once an adverse analytical finding is on the record, the public should know about it. If the athlete is innocent, then this will be determined in a transparent, expedient fashion and he/she will be cleared of all charges. Or not, which is the more likely case. I do believe this would increase deterrence as well, a factor that should not be discounted, as the current system is not making use of it at all. This procedure seems also more trustworthy than the wheeling and dealing we have currently.

      I do agree with you however, that the tribunal should start in a timely fashion. Also, I really don't think there can be many excuses for a positive sample, really...

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    3. Good post kickass. Even murder suspects, however famous, are made public, so even the most heinous of suspicions are granted transparency, yet someone being accused of cheating in a sport is not? A daft double standard if you ask me.

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  16. Arcus linked to a great YouTube panel discussion with Lance Armstrong's lawyers yesterday. It convinced me that those two journalists really want to find the truth. So do Juliet Macur and Mark Fainaru-Wada even know about THASP?

    If they get a stream of emails from us with THASP links and updates and insights, they might take note.

    Juliet Macur can be emailed via this NYT link: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/juliet_macur/index.html

    Mark Fainaru Wada's email is markfwespn@gmail.com

    Getting their ear would be invaluable.

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  17. http://sportmagazine.levif.be/sport/actualite/autres-sports/tennis/nadal-en-tennis-le-dopage-n-a-aucun-sens/article-4000335463477.htm

    Forgive the Google translation:

    Do you know what the biological passport is?

    Nadal:
    Frankly, no. There is little of doping in tennis. I have no knowledge of positive cases and it is not because we are less controlled. I think in tennis, doping has no meaning because the technical and mental aspect plays a huge role. It is more interesting in other sports where endurance and strength prevail. I do not know what is really the biological passport but I support anything that can help make the sport cleaner.

    24th June 2013
    ---------------

    Well at least we know that he and Murray are on the same page in believing that PEDs would not help in a sport that is mostly based on "technique and skill"

    Who are they trying to deceive?

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    1. So in one breath Nadal says there is little doping in tennis and in another breath he says he supports anything that will make the sport cleaner. Too funny. These are the words of someone who is pretty confident in his regime. He knows he won't get exposed. Either because he's protected by the powers that be or he's found a way to beat the testing process.

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    2. Wasnt Armstrong vocal about testing/keeping the sport clean too?

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    3. Wait..did ...did NADAL OF ALL PEOPLE poo poo the notion of tennis having rampant doping because....endurance is more important in other sports??????????????????/

      The guy who played a 54 stroke rally on a HC?????????

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    4. Isn't it great The Broke Chef?

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    5. The denials, oh the denials from fans:

      http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=477373

      http://www.latinospost.com/articles/27666/20130915/tennis-news-rafael-nadal-s-reputation-rocked-latest-doping-accusation.htm

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-09/let-s-hope-drugs-prolong-rafael-nadal-s-great-career-.html

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  18. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP7g0rj2eCw

    Interview with Todd Martin (and his media-trained hands, lol), published, in Feb 2013. Martin has been on the board of directors of the USTA, and was president of the ATP players council. He coached Novak Djokovic's for parts of 09/10.....

    He talks about PEDs, opening with reference to the financial expense of anti-doping programs. Bewilderingly, he expresses the belief that EPO is undetectable in urine. WADA designated urine as the sample of choice for EPO detection in 2003. That was 10 years ago.

    http://www.wada-ama.org/en/Resources/Q-and-A/EPO-Detection/

    Some of his responses are a bit cagy, but he acknowledged the (IMO, almost irresistible) financial incentives to dope that exist in tennis.

    Paraphrasing, he goes on to state that "when I was still playing, the top players were being tested probably 5-8 times, out-of competition, if I remember the data correctly, and that's basically knocking on the door and saying we're here, so if that's decreased, that's a huge issue"

    Wonder if there is evidence to verify those testing stats from his era?

    Also, he says that he want's to coach Ferrer....

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  19. http://inwww.rediff.com/sports/2004/jul/16wada.htm

    THASP linked to this article in the early months of the blogs life.... It is one of the most damning pieces of evidence against the tennis authorities that I have come across, but for some reason gets no attention, so I thought it was worth reposting.

    It refers to WADA dismissing the argument that a contaminated electrolyte supplement could have led to positive nandrolone tests players, including Bohdan Ulihrach and Greg Rusedski. They evaluated 7 cases but 43 players tested positive.

    "Now it is clearly established that the source of contamination is not the electrolyte, the legal analysis behind the seven cases ... is not sustainable," WADA said.

    "The consequence and the problem arising from this situation is that there are now seven cases where exonerations were granted on what are now clearly unsustainable grounds and the exonerations may not be able to be revisited.

    "The ATP has informed WADA that this (analytical) fingerprint continues to be found in samples collected from male tennis players," said WADA.

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    1. This happened in the pre-WADA days when the ATP were testing their own players. The then nandrolone test could not distinguish between the exogenous version and that produced naturally, albeit at higher levels than what was then considered normal and so triggering a false positive. The common footprint ascribable to these cases derived from the nandrolone being the version produced naturally. It's a long, long saga, best explained by someone more familiar with all the technicalities but I think that's the gist.

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    2. Peter explained it nicely. In this case, there were way to many fuck ups regarding the correct method of testing and distinguishing between the bodies own nandrolone vs. synthetic.

      However, what remains consistent on behalf of the ITF is their all-too-easy granting of exonerations once the players threatened with legal actions. Looking at the ITF and how they handled the case, it becomes clear that a level of dependency exists that precluded independence of judgement.

      The ATP too readily blamed it on the supplement/electrolytes without the actual testing confirming this. So their legal finding (accepting the supplement as a source for the levels) is not sustainable and shows they rather find a way out (by accepting the blame themselves for the supplements) than really get to the roots of it.

      Whatever happened later - this fact remains.

      Here is how the above linked articles summarizes it:

      "The allegation that an ATP-supplied electrolyte might be responsible for the positive test was made by just one of the players, the fifth charged, WADA said. An ATP investigation "found through questioning ... that most of the 43 players with positive or elevated tests claimed (in retrospect) that they had used the electrolyte replacement product provided by trainers," WADA said.

      WADA said the independent tribunals which exonerated the players made an "extraordinary series of findings" founded on two principles - shifting the onus of proof to the ATP to show it was not the source of the positive tests, and precluding the ATP from sanctioning players based on positive tests because it might have been responsible for those positives."

      An early example of ATPs own version of handling positives. Imagine there would have been no solution thanks to endogenous nandrolone production and those would have been actual positive findings...

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    3. Thanks, Peter and T_K.

      I had read the original WADA report (here: http://www.wada-ama.org/rtecontent/document/wada_atp_report.pdf, an interesting read in itself). As T_K points out, the ATP's willingness to exonerate athletes, based on a specious argument that "supplements may have led to the positive cases" understandably drew WADA scorn. This concern persists for me, regardless of any possible issues with sample processing or assay technique.

      I found this piece in the Telegraph, which I think Peter was referring to.....

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/drugsinsport/2360336/Nandrolone-testing-under-a-cloud.html

      The article purports to quote from a confidential WADA directive, and WADA comments seem to back this up. It refers to new research, but doesn't reference it. It suggests that urine samples can become "unstable" over time (perhaps due to the presence of bacteria), leading to the spontaneous generation of nandrolone or its metabolites (whose presence constitute a positive test).

      At the time, WADA director David Howman, said "the likelihood of athletes testing positive for nandrolone because of unstable urine was between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000"

      I looked for pertinent research to understand the issue better. I was able to find a review (Br J Sports Med 2002; 36 :325–32) discussing false positive testing for nandrolone, summarizes data relating to testing limitations. It is contemporaneous with the cases under discussion. I could find little more recent information to clarify the issue..

      One referenced article (Le Bizec et al, 2002) refers to samples from 385 soccer players, and relates exercise to increased levels of urine NA metabolites. Though none exceeded the 2ng/ml limit in place then for the WADA, some were close (~1.8). That article mentioned samples with high specific gravity, which could equate to the "dense samples" mentioned in the Telegraph article. The term "unstable", though, appears to relate to some form of ex-vivo chemical reaction. Beyond that, most of the studies had numeric or methodologic limitation.

      I cannot find additional evidence in the literature confirming that the assay used at the time was substantively invalid, but it might exist. So, on balance, I don't feel that the athletes in question are/were beyond suspicion,

      (The BJP review is not publically available, but I'll email it, in the unlikely event that anyone is interested!)

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    4. Richard Ings, ex-ATP head of anti-doping at the time, has posted quite extensively and fairly recently on this blog about the nandrolone saga. It's worth reading what he has to say about the topic as you're getting it from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
      That's not to say nandrolone was never a drug of choice. However, the relatively low levels consistently found in tennis players pointed more towards their innocence rather than their being at the Linford Christie end of the spectrum where the level detected was like a hundred times higher.

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  20. Apparently Marin Cilic has been banned for 9 months:

    @SkyNewsBreak
    International Tennis Federation: Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic suspended for nine months for doping violation

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