Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stuart Miller Speaks

Ask Stuart Miller about Odesnik's whistleblowing, Biogenesis, Luis Garcia del Moral, panic room, reductions in blood tests, loser-targeted testing, or minimal out-of-competition testing and he'll refuse to give you a straight answer.

Ask Stuart Miller about transparency and provisional suspensions, and he'll bury you in verbiage.

But when it comes to this particular rule change, the man can't shut-up:
"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."
So, what happens if a player claims that the "event supervisor or referee" assured him (or her) that it was "ok" not to give a sample?

The WADA Code is pretty clear on the consequences of failure to provide a sample. Can someone explain how the ITF's rule change will solve any problems?


29 comments:

  1. The rule change is purely to keep occasional cry-babies like Troicki happy. The risk is, as you say, that players exploit the rule to obfuscate and delay. If it is introduced, it needs to be accompanied by a reiterated warning that failure to provide a sample will automatically trigger an adverse inference and a two year ban.

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  2. http://www.itftennis.com/antidoping/news/decisions/decision-in-the-case-of-matthieu-da-silva-barata.aspx
    --

    The International Tennis Federation announced today that it recognises and respects the 2-year ban imposed on Matthieu Da Silva Barata by the NADO Flanders for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.3 of the WADA Code (Refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit to Sample collection after notification).

    Mr Da Silva Barata, a 25-year old player from Belgium was notified on 2 June 2013 that he had been selected for In-Competition testing, and acknowledged that notification, but failed to provide a sample. Accordingly, Mr Da Silva Barata was found to have committed a violation under Article 2.3 of the WADA Code and was suspended by NADO Flanders for a period of two years, starting on 17 September 2013 and so ending at midnight on 16 September 2015.

    --

    They SURE do come down hard on these low ranked players who decide not to submit a sample. Though can't say I've heard of Mr Da Silva Barata.

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  3. http://www.itftennis.com/antidoping/news/decisions/decision-in-the-case-of-matthieu-da-silva-barata.aspx

    Da Silva Barata (Belgium) got himself a 2 year ban for "an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.3 of the WADA Code (Refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit to Sample collection after notification.)"

    Interesting bit is this one:

    " he was suspended by NADO Flanders for a period of two years, starting on 17 September 2013 and so ending at midnight on 16 September 2015.

    The failed sample collection was on June, 2nd... so NO backdating for him.

    Now if I were Da Silva Barata, I'd sure be mad as hale at my own federation when seeing how they cater towards premium member Cilic...

    Any Belgain journalists here dying to give Da Silva a call?

    How come the ITF is conveniently backdating Cilic's ban, so he can play AO, while NADO Flanders is no-nonsense about the rule and the respective date it becomes valid...?

    Miller is applying the rules according to his own inclination, down to his own whim, it seems.

    Paging WADA! Is this still code compliant, I wonder?



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    1. In terms of "back dating," Troicki's suspension was not backdated. It runs from July 15, 2013 -- shortly before the tribunal hearing, and not from April15 -- the date of the failed sample.

      Cilic's suspension was backdated because he had pled "guilty" to the charge. The tribunal was simply a sentencing hearing. This is covered in Rule 10.9.2:

      Where the Athlete or other Person promptly (which, in all events, for an Athlete means before the Athlete competes again) admits the anti-doping rule violation after being confronted with the anti-doping rule violation by the Anti- Doping Organization , the period of Ineligibility may start as early as the date of Sample collection or the date on which another anti- doping rule violation last occurred.

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    2. I said Cilic...

      To quote myself:

      "Now if I were Da Silva Barata, I'd sure be mad as hale at my own federation when seeing how they cater towards premium member Cilic..."

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    3. It seems like it's a worse crime to not submit a sample than to actually fail a test. The punishment is certainly greater. If Troicki doesn't get a 2 year ban as well then something is surely rotten in the state of doping.

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    4. Troicki is somewhat of a name player and his buddy Djokovic will throw a temper tantrum (as we have seen) if Troicki doesn't get special treatment.

      Da Silva Barata doesn't have the #1 player in the world going to bat for him. Nor is he a big name. If you are a lesser name you will always get the bigger punishment to make the ITF look "tough".

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  4. Regarding that event supervisor call - I'd say what does that person change from the fact that either player gives a sample or ...not, which counts as a violation?

    How about Miller simply sends out an email via listserve to all current players/juniors etc which tells them something they should already be aware of anyway: that "no sample collected" equals a suspension no matter what phobia they come up with?

    To me this ump/supervisor business is just an unnecessary time delay (to clear the system) - imagine they drink heavily, while calling the super, maybe something with a masking agent in it? Not likely, you say?

    As we know from Armstrong, any minute counts! I can't be arsed to look it up in USADA's reasoned decision now, but I recall how Pharmstrong delayed the sample giving procedure for he damn knew exactly how much time it takes to be clean.

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  5. Miller himself doesn't actually do the banning. He and the doper agree on the composition of a doping tribunal. Miller makes the case and the tribunal, as arbitrator, do the banning. It is structured in this way for fairness. In fiddling around with the rules like this, Miller is pandering to the likes of Troicki who is in such a state of denial that he appears to think ATP players are somehow above the normal rules of anti-doping. While he is waiting, he is supposed to remain within sight of the DCO and in theory unable to sneak off to administer a masking agent or strap on his fake penis.

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    1. Peter, this might finally be the explanation for Nadal's constant OCD-dick-checking during matches...

      His fake strap-on penis seems ill-fitting and gives him troubles, no?

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    2. When Nadal beats his whipping-boy Berdych tomorrow he'll be back to #1. Unbelievable. A year ago his career seemed over due to chronic debilitating knee injury. Now he's on the cusp of #1. Kudos to his medical team.

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    3. It's just so dumb. He looks like he can run around on hard courts forever. Grueling matches on unforgiving surfaces look like child's play. His schedule has hardly been light, either. While other players transition to Shanghai, Nadal goes all in and tries to get every title he can, regardless of surface. It is interesting how Nadal has been utter dog shit post US Open for most of his career, but is shaping up to be adding more titles to his farce of a 'comeback'. I'd love to know the exact circumstance and motive behind such a specifically shifty calendar performance, at this stage in his career. Perhaps because he was banned from tennis during the AO, he feels he needs to go on an uber tear to make up for lost points. It's certainly not the first 'comeback' year for bum-knees, but it is the most ridiculous yet.

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    4. Maybe he plans on finishing the year at #1, the greatest season ever in tennis history and then retire immediately. No more doping control, no chance of ever getting caught and ending his career on a high (literally). Then it will be Borg all over again: how many GS's could he have achieved if he hadn't retired so young blah blah blah.

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    5. Having skipped AO and also Wimbledon (in effect) it may be that this year Nadal can sustain his form until the YEC. There will be a break at some point but only he and his team know when this will be.

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  6. I don't remotely see how this rule change will help anything, primarily for the reasons noted above by t_k. Namely, what happens if the player can't get the tournament director? What can the tournament director say? What does it mean that the ADO should "try to offer the player an opportunity to speak to the event supervisor or referee?" What if the ADO does not "try" hard enough? How long can this whole process take?

    The proposed change will only allow for more confusion to an already confusing situation.

    First of all, a missed test does NOT always result in a ban. A player can provide a valid reason for missing a test. One such valid reason was found in the case of Troy Dumais who doping control located in the emergency room for kidney stones. He was medically unable to provide a urine sample as requested. He was not subject to discipline. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/nick_zaccardi/08/23/Olympic-Drug-Testing/index.html)

    The problem is that any tournament director may misinterpret this or attempt to apply his own logic --- "Well, we know you don't have to provide a sample if you can't urinate because of kidney stones, that is pretty much the same thing as being afraid of needles." Then what does the player think? Is any such advice from the director valid or exculpatory?

    If the only thing that the tournament director can say is, "You must provide a sample or it will be viewed as a rules violation which can subject you to up to a two year suspension," then why not just print this on a piece of paper and have the player sign it. You can translate this simple statement into 10 or 15 different languages that are most commonly used by players on the tour so that there can be no confusion about what the responsibility is. (Note, the current doping control form only says, "Comply with Sample collection procedures -- failure to do so may constitute an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/World_Anti-Doping_Program/WADP-Tools-DopingControl_Form/WADA_Doping_Control_Form_v5.PDF ) The current form is also printed in English and French.

    Finally, doesn't this rule favor players who speak the same language as the tournament director? Won't there be problems with translations? Even using a common language such as English will still result in communication problems because outside the US, it is not the native tongue or either the player or the director.

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    1. MTracy,
      Re: Dumais case: I'm being pedantic for professional reasons......
      Kidney stones are notoriously (and legitimately) painful. That said, they should not prevent an individual urinating (actually, in clinical practice, we need their urine for diagnostic purposes).

      Stones generally occlude only one of two ureters (the tube connecting kidneys to the bladder). Only a stone occluding the uretha (the tube connecting the bladder to the penis) would prevent an athlete passing urine. This is would be a very rare, serious, medical emergency.

      According to this site. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/olympics/news/2000/06/22/diving_trials_ap/
      Dumais had left sided pain (implying left ureteral obstruction.

      I suppose he could have been in so much pain he couldn't cooperate with doping control officers, but the patients I treat with renal stones are generally able to give a urine sample.........

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  7. I also fail to see how this proposed rule change would have helped Troicki. From the tribunal's finding:

    "On the way to the [Doping Control Station], Mr Troicki and Mr Charleux passed by the office of the ATP Tour Manager, Mr Bratoev. Mr Troicki told Mr Bratoev that he had been selected for a blood test, but that he felt dizzy and unwell and that giving blood made him feel bad. Mr Bratoev’s response was that, once selected, he had to do the test."

    So, Troicki not only had the opportunity to talk to the ATP Manager, but was specifically told he had to provide the sample. How would talking to a tournament director or referee make any difference?

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    1. Great find.

      Your above quote makes Troicki's "issue" in fact a non-issue. As simple as that. His petition: complete nonsense!

      He did have the chance to talk to the supervisor/ manager back then. And his answer was redundant, as to be expected.

      Why change rules for that. I wonder? Especially in the light of more pressing rule changes...

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    2. Good question. Troicki has no case, basically.

      Don't hold your breath waiting for the fanboy heads-in-the-sand types to answer that.

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  8. This is a non-issue basically, a storm in a teacup which will be brought home to Trociki next week when he faces the prospect of his ban, rather than being reduced, being extended. The rule for skipping tests is clear - two years. Sporting tribunals not only have an obligation to apply the rules, the law, they have to do what is right for sport generally and we are at a crossroads now with anti-doping given all the revelations from cycling, athletics, American football and baseball. Look at the weak, slap-on-the-wrist sanctions going on at the moment in the U.S with the NFL. If that represents the future for anti-doping, one might as well give up.

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  9. So apparently there were FIFTY players signing that "petition" rebelling against "THE SYSTEM" - first one was Djokovic, obvs.

    Here is what he had to say: "I hope that the justice will win in this case, because Viktor is completely innocent. I am fully by Troicki’s side and I expect this to be proven. I support him in the fight against the system. This is why I signed the document, a kind of petition to the International Court of Arbitration in Sport in Lausanne, because Viktor is right when he says that there is a need to change things in relation to the current system. What is indisputable is that Troicki was always negative for doping tests and that must not be forgotten,”

    I would like to know who else signed this.

    Also, below is how the totally biased Serbian press is talking about the whole affair:

    "ITF rigorously punished him, but it is obvious that Federation is now questioning anti-doping rules, especially after the letter in which 50 tennis players ask for the change of the rules, and the first to sign was Novak Djokovic."

    Interesting bit to me here is that those fifty players quickly gathered together to sign this pamphlet, thereby pressuring the ITF into "changes". I wonder how much they can commercially pressure the ITF, which, in effect, compromises their supposed status as an independent body (which we know they are not) to being utter tools in the hands of certain high-profile players and their financial interests...

    Not a good development.

    If stuff like that is possible, other things are also imaginable, things we already suspected time long past, like cover-ups, secret deals, shady exonerations...

    Further, it is proof of the ITFs general incapability to serve as a castigatory body. More so, it shamelessly proves their dependability on the very same people they are meant to prosecute and govern, which inevitably handcuffs them.

    Poorly written source: http://inserbia.info/news/2013/10/itf-indirectly-admits-it-was-wrong-in-troicki-case/

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

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    3. So, under this "new rule," what type of time delays can a player incur between selection and actually having to provide a sample?

      I mean, you get selected, but they let you take a shower (the ADO is with you the whole time). So, you can take an hour long shower, I guess. Then you can start some vague conversation about being afraid of peeing and tell them all about your childhood. At some point, they will realize that what you are really saying is that you don't want to give a sample. Then you ask to get Stuart Miller on the phone and try that for 30-40 minutes (unless you are ranked in top ten, then he answers on first ring and you are released).

      After "Dr." Miller doesn't return your call, then you ask to speak to the "chief referee" -- who is probably busy at this point. An hour later when she shows up, you pretend you can't understand her (because you only speak Serbian/Catallan/whatever). So you have an hour long "conversation" where it is eventually explained to you that you have to provide a sample.

      Also, can you urinate on your own (without providing a sample) while this "conversation" is waiting to happen? (How would they tell if you pee in the shower?)

      Keep in mind, the entire time you are really intending to provide a sample, you just need an additional hour or two to make sure the drug has cleared your system.

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    4. @ Peter

      "Something is rotten in the state of Tennis"


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    5. 'What is indisputable is that Troicki was always negative for doping tests and that must not be forgotten.'

      The most tired argument in history. It apparently never gets old, and the Marion Jones / Lance Armstrong affairs do little to make it so.

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  10. More babbling from Djokovic, turning this into the my-old-playground-friend narrative...
    http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/10/djokovic-troicki-case-doping-control-official-lying-lot/49363/

    "“The whole case around Viktor is just very unfair towards him,” Djokovic told reporters. “I believe that he’s innocent. He hasn’t been charged for being positive on any kind of substance. He was just accused of failing to provide the blood test that day. I know him since I was eight years old. We grew up together. He’s one of my best friends. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s innocent. I supported him from the first moment. I hope that he’s going to be discharged and he’s going to be able to play, because he’s definitely not guilty. What happened in that room on this day, for me, it’s very clear that he is supposed to play. I’m confident that he’s going to come back on the tour, hopefully already in the next couple weeks, and he’s going to be with us in Davis Cup final, because we wish him that.”

    It seems like it's game on between Djoker vs. the ITF!

    He thinks the tester was lying a lot...

    Djokovic: "I don’t see why they’re keeping him suspended. For what? For failing to provide the blood test? He asked the lady that day, you know, he’s not feeling well. Can I provide you tomorrow? She said, 'Yes, if you write report.' He wrote the report, and the next thing you know she’s failing to say the truth in the court in London. She was saying that he was convincing him, that it took her 20 minutes to walk from anti-doping office to the ATP office in Monte-Carlo tournament, which is 20 meters. So she was lying a lot. That’s very bad for our sport. That’s very bad for anti-doping agency, to have people who are responsible for this work to fail to say what really happened that day. There was another person present in the room that day that wrote a perfect English on the report, and then in the court in London he didn’t understand a single word.”

    He claims it's all a matter of who-said-what...

    “The reason why I was the first one to write a petition for the rule change is to try to spread the awareness to the people around that obviously there is -- it all comes down to who said what and who believes in who, you know what I mean?” Djokovic asked. “It’s just not fair towards the players, because there has to be I guess technology or a camera or an additional person in the room while you’re doing the test, because then -- the player has no really rights.”

    Yes, instead of the boring on-court interviews, I'd want a live-stream of post-match doping antics instead - close ups of everything, fake penis and whatnot!

    Srsly though, Djokovic throws in all his star power to help his wronged childhood friend out by insisting the DOC lied.. If this gets approved and Troicki is indeed playing the DC, I think tennis will have lost the little modicum of credibility it had left.

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    1. "Yes, instead of the boring on-court interviews, I'd want a live-stream of post-match doping antics instead - close ups of everything, fake penis and whatnot!"

      The "live stream" would literally be a live stream........ LOL.
      They could definitively turn that over to ESPN or Sky Sports.... Ratings
      Bonanza!!!!!!!!!!



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  11. The proposed new rule seems a bit ludicrous to me.

    I'm certain every professional player knows that if you're selected for a doping test, you have to comply, or risk the same penalty that would have resulted from a positive test. Otherwise, everyone who knows they are positive could just refuse the test for some spurious reason. It's not rocket science.

    Reflexively changing the rules in response to one preposterous situation, seems impetuous.

    It makes the ITF look like they are pandering to the players, rather than honoring the fans (who pay the bills) with a rigorous, consistently executed anti-doping program.

    I would love to know what is in that petition, and who signed it............

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