Friday, October 25, 2013

Cilic Ban Reduced

25 October 2013 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between the Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Both the player and the federation appealed to the CAS against the decision issued on 23 September 2013 by the ITF’s Anti-Doping Tribunal (IADT) in which the player was sanctioned with a nine month ban following a positive anti-doping control for a metabolite of nikethamide (N-ethylnicotinamide), a stimulant which is prohibited in competition. The player admitted that he had inadvertently ingested the prohibited substance by taking a glucose supplement out-of-competition and argued that due to the circumstances of the case, the IADT’s decision should be annulled and replaced with a warning and no period of ineligibility. The ITF, however, appealed the IADT’s decision to request that the sanction imposed on the player be increased.

The arbitration procedure was referred to a panel of CAS arbitrators (Prof. Ulrich Haas, Germany (President), Mr Jeffrey Benz, USA, and Mr Romano Subiotto QC, UK/Belgium), who heard the parties and their legal representatives at a hearing held in London on 16 October 2013.

The Panel determined that the degree of fault committed by the athlete was inferior to that established in the IADT decision. The Panel also determined that the sanction imposed was too severe in view of the degree of fault and concluded that it should be reduced to four months, commencing on 23 September 2013, less the period of provisional suspension already served by the player from 26 June 2013 to 23 September 2013. The player’s ban will therefore end at midnight on 25 October 2013.

The full arbitral award, with the grounds for the Panel’s decision, will be issued to the parties in due course.


  1. Well, that certainly sends a strong signal to the dopers - although it may not be the signal the Court intends. If Cilic's excuse had been accepted then he wasn't at fault, and so there arguably should have been no penalty - or only a warning, as his representatives argued. But if his excuse wasn't accepted then he is clearly doping. And so he gets a mere four month suspension, which is backdated, and he is immediately able to return to the tour. Doping is little more than the jay-walking of modern professional sport.

  2. The rules are explicit where the contents of supplements are concerned: ignorance is supposedly never a defense. The athletes know this. The ITF, and now the CAS, have apparently mitigated his sentence believing he was not trying to enhance performance. Cilic may not have taken Nikethomide that day to enhance his chance of winning (as PEDs go, it's pretty crappy), but he took it at some point, and the rules say that's a doping violation.

    Unfortunately, this sends the message that punishment for an undisputed offense is a matter for negotiation, rather than rigorous enforcement. As disincentives to cheat go, 4 months seems pretty toothless.

    It strikes me as disproportionate to ban Hingis for 2 years for taking cocaine, but attenuate Cilic's ban for an actual PED.

    1. It sort of makes you wonder if it was more than "cocaine" with Hingis.

    2. apparently ignorance is indeed bliss!

    3. Agreed.

      Why even have any doping controls at all when we have people testing positive and their bans are reduced anyways?

      Another "I had no idea what I was taking!" excuse wins again. Pathetic.

  3. Yeah, as Arcus notes, this decision is pretty shocking because it basically reverses the previous notion that "ignorance is no excuse." Now, as long as the ignorance can be shoved off on your mother, your brother, your coach, or your trainer, you are pretty much good to go.

    "Mommy, what's in that needle labeled erythropoietin?"
    "Don't worry baby Chili, that is just French for Flintstones vitamins?"
    "But Mommy, I am afraid of needles."
    "No baby Chili, you only tell that to doping control."

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  5. This weak decision counteracts, or rather, mocks everything anti-doping should be about and diminishes, or in their words: inferiorizes the athletes fault to near nothing levels.

    As Richard already nicely pointed out, either he was doping and deserved his ban or they accepted his bloody excuse and then he wasn't. Which puts them in a really bad light, considering the shockingly inferior quality of his excuse...

    I am curious as to how CAS is explaining their unexpected generosity here. I mean they are THIS close to give him a big hug and some cookies to make up for all the hassle poor Cilic had to go through...

    The decision seems especially weird in light of Prof. Haas' recent involvement with the Contador ban, (apparently, Contador and the Spanish NADA especially cherry-picked him to be on the panel, still he got served) and his previous work for the German NADA. I need to look into that a bit more, actually.

    I would really like to hear his or rather CAS reasoning on this one but only from a purely fictional interest. I mean, after the IADT's inferior scribblings, how much further can they plunge into absurdity, I wonder?

    Honestly, after having read the ITFs pulptastic decision, I am not really keen on any more creative writing projects of that dubious sort, which attempt to give yet another twist to an already battered story, putting yet another dent into space-time...

    Sadly, the very same Prof. Haas was invited recently to give his opinion on doping as a possible legal offense at a conference hosted by the German minster of the interior, Mr. Friedrich, who is overseeing sports as well (to my greatest chagrin, he is utter crap and bloody useless) a fruitless event really, which ended by affirming that everyone agrees to disagree.

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  7. Guys, Case Closed (for now): PRP does have performance enhancing properties, according to latest study:

    1. NIce find.

      From how PRP functions, whether used intramuscular or used as transfusion, this was to be expected and explains its vast attraction in sports nicely.

      Any marginal edge is seeked out by athletes desperately - each possible parameter tweaked gives you an edge, as in the case of PRP treatments. Using it has lovely, highly desired side-effects, no wonder it is so immensely popular and obviously some less moral sports physicians, who would like to help their clients and see them win (or like their money) will do anything to portay PRP as an innocent cure only for physcial ailments, a perfectly legal drug to treat injuries...

    2. Interesting paper, Arvind. However, it reminds me that the lack of research in this field is lamentable....

      The study demonstrates that PRP increases serum levels of several anabolic growth factors. However, crucially, it does not link that effect to enhancement of physical performance. I am not suggesting that the two are not connected, but without definitive evidence, how can you expect the authorities to police it?

      Maybe it is time for the NIH/FDA, and other bodies, to put some real money into PED research. I realize that this could put knowledge into the hands of cheats, but I expect it would serve WADA, and other regulatory bodes, more. PED use is not restricted to elite athletes, many of these agents are being peddled in local gyms, and public health is at stake.....

    3. well, the final conclusion was "We present evidence that PRP contains and may trigger systemic increases in substances currently banned in competitive athletes"

    4. Great find. Looks like I have some reading to do.

    5. so all a player needs to do is come up with a chronic injury, say a knee injury, and gets his PRP approved and the rest is history. Literally. As in the filling up of the trophy cabinet kind of history. What a great system.

  8. so technically, it's out in the open that Nadal is doping. The PRP injections are not a secret, and it does enhance performance.

  9. so Nadal can rise his level of HGH with PRP and that is ok

    but Cilic taking "off the shelf" supplements (with ppm trace of some banned stuff) is major doping case

    1. Nadal is a big star and Cilic isn't. That's basically what it boils down to. The big stars are protected because they are the moneymakers.

      A Nadal positive test leaking out would be a HUGE blow to men's tennis; only us hardcore fans care about Marin Cilic.

      Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Serena, Sharapova, and to a lesser extent, del Potro, Ferrer, and Azarenka, are the only names out there that would be a serious blow to tennis if they ever tested positive. If any of them are doping, they will be protected at all costs.

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  11. This presentation / panel discussion is lengthy, but interesting in places.

    There was some good science relating to EPO and blood doping, and honest discussion about the behaviors of doping athlete, including calendars and evasion techniques.

    I was happy to hear discussion of the effect of PED use on confidence (which I think is key in tennis). If you are slow, weak, or unfit, and you dope, then there's only one direction your confidence is going.

    I was also very happy that someone suggested that TUEs for athletes with ADHD maybe higher than expected for their age group. Specifically, in baseball, it was stated that ADHD drug use (Adderall, Ritalin) was >100-150 times the incidence expected in that population (though, as yet, I cannot verify this info). Drugs that enhance mental focus are seldom mentioned in this debate, and concentration in tennis is critical. I recall hearing Victor Conti (ex-Balco) talk about abuse of Provigil (modafinil), a drug that enhances wakefulness and concentrations in sports.

    I was a bit disappointed in the philosophy portion, as I think Societal / public opinion about doping in sport is critical, since regulatory responses will inevitably be affected by public pressure.

    Full session here:

  12. The gift of the year...very generous undeserved gift indeed...he gets his points back too.

    > Following the startling report that the Croatian Marin Cilic has been suspended by the International Tennis Federation for 9 months due to failing a doping test midway through the 2013 season, Cilic said that he thought his case could be dealt with in a space of 2 two weeks but his lawyers were pressured by the ITF that he eventually pulled out of competing at the All England Club.

    "On Monday I will get my points from Queen"s (event) back and I"ll be 31st or 32nd in the ATP rankings. The nightmare started on June 10 when I got that letter from the ITF saying there was nikethamide in my samples.

    On Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced Cilic"s ban by a remarkable degree, enabling him to compete in the last Masters 1000 event of the season. "Being with all the players here in Paris is my gift of the year."

  13. Paris R1: Cilic def. Sijsling 5-7 6-1 6-4

    1. And from his post-match presser:

      >"I felt like a kid playing for the first time tennis. The feeling was amazing just to be back on the court, to be competing - I enjoyed every moment."
      But behind the smiles was dismay at what the Cilic camp believes to be a basic error which could have cost their player much more than the four-month suspension he eventually served.

      Cilic said he only learned in September that he had not actually tested positive for the banned stimulant nikethamide, but for its marker (metabolite) N-ethylnicotinamide.

      "By letter dated June 10, the ITF wrote to Marin informing him inaccurately that the urine sample he provided (in Munich) on May 1 had tested positive for nikethamide," said his management.

      "The only things detected in his sample were traces of the metabolite (which is) not a prohibited substance."

      Cilic added: "Until September 13, I haven't realised or my lawyers that there was no nikethamide in my system at all ... and that was not even a part of my conversation at the first hearing.

      "The tribunal over there hasn't realised that because nobody talked about it. And plus, the doctor that was making the analysis hasn't been called as a witness."

      Now this is what I would call bold! Bold lying, indeed!

      Let me quote from a study done on horses : "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."

      Source A:

      Source B:

      Also here is what Tsonag had to say: "... we don't even know what's true, what's not true. It is quite a delicate subject.

      "I just don't know who I have to believe anymore. Everybody is lying, even the institutions. I don't know if it's true, but this is the feeling I have."

      Hmmmm. Even the institutions... I wish he would elaborate a little more...

      Last bit, Cilic has upgraded his coaching situation - Ivanisevic is his new coach now. Let's hope this one knows the ITFs guidelines regarding doping and is able to read multiple languages of various package inserts ;)

    2. Well, Cilic and his attorney should have spent more time reading this blog then because team_kickass and I discussed at length the problems with the reported amounts of niketahmide and how we both thought they were actually testing for metabolites because the stated quantity did not make any sense if it was not a metabolite.

      Funny that a couple of blokes posting on an internet forum know more about it than Cilic and his attorney, but they were too busy figuring out exactly how to blame mommy.

      In any case, as t_k points out above, it is irrelevant as to whether a doping offense was committed. Our previous discussion was based on the quantity being found in his urine being far too much to make any sense for having taken the drug 5 days previously. However, doping tests are generally not for the drug themselves but for metabolites that are not naturally found in the body.

  14. The obfuscation is nauseating, but cilic is doing what he has to, in order to salvage relationships with sponsors.........

    Most of the public don't know the facts or the rules........ And he and his team are relying on that.

    But to say there was no nikethamide detected in his body, as if the ruling was overturned as a mistake is beyond ballsy..........