Thursday, February 20, 2014

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Simon Cambers interviewed Chris Kermode, the new CEO of the ATP Tour. Here's the money shot:
How big a danger is match-fixing, doping etc?Is our sport clean? Absolutely. We’ve got to make sure that we are all over this. I think it’s a messaging issue, because I don’t see it as an issue. When you actually talk to players…some of those top guys, the rivalry at the World Tour Finals this year, they’re not playing for the money, they’re so naturally competitive.
But isn’t the problem more at the lower levels, where money is scarce?
I would say that filters down. We’ve got to make sure (players get) education, players coming through, about their responsibility, what the issues are, how to avoid them, reporting any contact. We’re working with the Tennis Integrity Unit. Am I going to be focusing on making sure doping and gambling are a major priority? Yes, absolutely, because we have to ensure the sport is clean, which I wholeheartedly think it is.

35 comments:

  1. Given that tennis has just last year had both gambling problems lower down the ranks, and doping violations quite high up, which are in all likelihood merely the iceberg's tip, this guy is either a slick PR man or seriously naive.

    His comments are not quite as bad as Stuart Miller's when he first started talking out of his ear, which says something about how bad Stuart Miller is.

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  2. '...We have to ensure the sport is clean, which I wholeheartedly think it is.'

    What a conflicted comment. I have trouble trusting someone who is sure that doping is not going on to take action against possible doping. If he'd said 'ensure the sport STAYS clean' then his statement would at least be consistent, though still hugely naive.

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  3. "we have to make sure that the players get education...".

    This is what the Spanish authorities say. They even had NADAL educating young Spanish athletes, on the dangers of doping. LOL.

    Of course, the athletes know of the dangers, but are willing to take the risk for the prestige, and money. The solution is NOT "education", and they know this.

    The solution is giving a body that has no conflict of interest, and the will to catch the CHEATS, the job of catching the CHEATS. Without the will to catch the CHEATS (which clearly sports authorities do not have, since their primary goal is to promote the sport), any "effort" to keep doping out of the game is purely window dressing.

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  6. First of all, there is performance enhancing going on in all sports, including tennis. And, everyone is doing it. So, there is NO UNFAIR ADVANTAGE!! Hope you get it. That's how Roger can play five-set matches at 32; Novak can go from an asthmatic, wheezing kid to Hercules, outlasting and outplaying everyone (that and his Gluten free diet!!); Rafa can keep playing competitively with 70-year-old's knees; Andy Murray can go from a puny, scrawny kid to one with buffed biceps and six-pack abs; David Ferrer can run like the Energizer bunny from now till next Tuesday at age 32; Tsonga, Monfils, Nishikori, Karlovic, Isner, and other injury prone players can come back time after time from multiple injuries and still be able to quickly get back their old rankings.
    Second, tennis is not solely about who hits the ball the hardest and who runs the fastest or longest. It is as much about creativity, anticipation, mental focus, and confidence. In a sense it has more similarities to chess than it does to a sport. So, regardless of how much PEDs a player takes, if he cannot be creative, anticipate an opponent's shot, read the serve, be confident enough to avoid self-doubt in the crucial points of the match, and remain focused through 20+ shot rallies, he doesn't have a shot of winning the match. That's what sets apart the greats, not PEDs.

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    1. 'Novak can go from an asthmatic, wheezing kid to Hercules, outlasting and outplaying everyone'

      Not the most concrete argument for every player doping.

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    2. Everybody is using drugs? Of course. For treatment of injuries, illness but NOT to be used as competitive advantage. I can also call it "confidence", by knowing that I can run faster longer etc.
      From all players you mentioned above:
      Federer: bad statement: every 30+ players can play 5 sets, it is not the set but how you play that matters most
      Novak:pretty good statement of doping possibilities
      Rafa: the best statement of all, how can 70 years old knees can play tennis, or maybe his knees are okay but somehow he needs to fabricate such condition
      Andy Murray: not very convincing, very common skinny kids works out to get bigger muscles
      Ferrer: runner up to Rafa, looked pretty much the same
      Others: tsonga: where is he now? And maybe if not because of injury they can be no.1, but none of them I heard getting a serious knee injury like the one at the top of the ranking with 14000plus points. So, not a convincing statement

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    3. Everybody is using drugs? Of course. For treatment of injuries, illness but NOT to be used as competitive advantage. I can also call it "confidence", by knowing that I can run faster longer etc.
      From all players you mentioned above:
      Federer: bad statement: every 30+ players can play 5 sets, it is not the set but how you play that matters most
      Novak:pretty good statement of doping possibilities
      Rafa: the best statement of all, how can 70 years old knees can play tennis, or maybe his knees are okay but somehow he needs to fabricate such condition
      Andy Murray: not very convincing, very common skinny kids works out to get bigger muscles
      Ferrer: runner up to Rafa, looked pretty much the same
      Others: tsonga: where is he now? And maybe if not because of injury they can be no.1, but none of them I heard getting a serious knee injury like the one at the top of the ranking with 14000plus points. So, not a convincing statement

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  7. Ah, the "no unfair advantage" excuse combined with the "they all do it" excuse.

    That's the excuses the Lance Armstrong fans used.

    I am guessing you are a Nadal fan.

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    1. He's a lover of a player on drugs for sure, and it's probably Nadal. Trying to rationalize it by putting everyone in the same basket. We've seen that already here, and we've exposed it as interested in keeping the status quo.

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  8. The most fundamental principle of the scientific method is that you must have a hypothesis that can be disproved. The only hypothesis in that context for anti-doping is that doping exists. If you make that assumption (right or wrong) as an anti-doping official, then you can aggressively try to disprove it by testing and other procedures.

    On the other hand, if you begin with the assumption that everybody is clean, then it's automatically a self-fulfilling prophecy (because there is nothing to disprove).

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    1. In as eloquent a nutshell as always, sir.

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    2. Eloquent, maybe... but also complete nonsense. Disproving that everybody is clean is very easy. You just need to catch one doped player. The only hypothesis that is nearly impossible to disprove, is that everybody is doping because that means that the authorities would have to test every player.

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    3. It depends on the semantic values with regards to the burden of proof. You can treat a negative as a reverse positive in a lot of cases, such as 'IS maintaining speed' compared with 'ISN'T altering speed'. The problem with assuming what I would call the negative in this case is that the assumed condition is satisfactory in it's current non-disproved state, on paper. Assuming doping exists (extremely likely) creates an unsatisfactory position that more urgently requires disproof.

      You are strictly correct, however.

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  9. "When you actually talk to players…some of those top guys, the rivalry at the World Tour Finals this year, they’re not playing for the money, they’re so naturally competitive."

    +++There's nothing "natural" about Nadal... (ok, bad joke, but that's a terrible quote on top of a few others in such a short blurb...; that CEO/PR man sounds pretty lacklustre and I feel has a shot at outdoing Stuart Miller in the dumb commentary department. Not the start to 2014 I was hoping for on the ATP front, but what else is new. :-/).

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  10. LMAO@Absolutely.

    Meanwhile, Swedish hockey player Nicklas Backstrom missed the gold medal game against Canada because he got popped for doping.

    Discuss.

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  11. Pro hockey players have been getting bigger, and bigger through the years, even though the population as a whole has stayed the same size. The most important stat that the teams use to recruit, is height. It's the first thing that they look at when deciding whether to draft a junior player, or not. Not goals scored, assists, +/-, nor any other performance based stat.

    You think that teenaged prospects don't know this ? Getting to the pros is their whole life. Do you think a significant percentage of these prospects would seek out some edge like growth hormones ?

    The number of players getting concussions in the NHL have skyrocketed in the last few years.
    I strongly suspect that the bigger (due to growth hormones and steroids) players hitting each other harder has a lot to do with this.

    My guess is that more than half of the pro hockey players are on something.

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    1. I agree. But try having a debate on the subject up here... Most of the pundits seem to be of the jockstrap sniffing kind a.k.a. guys who live through the hockey players they follow each day. When the topic of doping is broached in hockey telecasts, it is generally quickly refuted by the well-trodden "but it's a skill sport!" argument. To which I say compare hockey games from 1994 to today: the pace at which today's game is played at is considerably faster and most consistently physical. Today you see a playoff game in early June and guys never seem to get tired. Definitely fishy.

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  12. Name a sport that is clean. Figure skating? Ping-Pong?

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    1. Nope.

      The gold medal winning team from this years Olympics had a team member busted for doping, just last year.

      http://www.tsn.ca/curling/story/?id=426863

      Here they are. Hardly a traditional curling build amongst them.

      http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/07/070313curling.jpg?w=660&h=330&crop=1


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    2. If they are doping in Curling, do you think they might be doping in something FAR more physical like tennis ?

      Well, do ya think ?

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    3. A Russian figure skater admitted a doping offence this year....

      http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2014/01/10/Russian-figure-skater-Oksana-Nagalati-banned-for-doping/UPI-77741389382199/

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    4. There have been doping positives in yachting, chess, table tennis, archery, horse racing, bobsledding, I can go on and on. But tennis is 100% clean according to Kermode. To him (and several others in the ITF/ATP/WTA), every other sport has doping problems but tennis. Yeah right.

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    5. Tennis is not only FAR more physical than curling, but fame and money to be obtained can be much more tempting to try the dark side. Just go to the street and ask people who they think is their favorite curler currently, how many top 20 curlers they know by name and nationality, and who they think is the GOAT men and female curler :-)

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  13. Cilic seems to be playing better than ever after being banned for what? 4 months? for failing a doping test. So far this year he's won 2 tournaments and made the final of another. Every player should get caught doping if it has this effect.

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    1. We know from Nadal, and Serena, that the time off is just used to cycle down,so they can get ready for the next "heroic" comeback.

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    2. And I'm sure this year will be nothing but commentators talking about "brave" Cilic overcoming those meanies at doping controls who had the temerity to bust him for doping.

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  14. "Is our sport clean, absolutely"

    Unbelievable....

    Kermode has been working with the top 8 in the WTFs for the last few years. He's obviously pretty cozy with the guys that draw the big bucks...... Maybe he was thinking more about match-fixing in that response (where it is indeed less likely at the highest levels). If as quoted, though, the comment indeed also encompassed doping, I'm disgusted. Non-issue? PR problem? ... No words.

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  15. Football: Spanish Court confirms Le Monde defamation judgement
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140224/football-spanish-court-confirms-le-monde-defamation-judgement

    The Spanish Supreme Court on Monday ordered French daily newspaper Le Monde to pay football giants Real Madrid and Barcelona more than 300,000 euros ($412,000) in damages for defamation.

    The court upheld a judgment against the newspaper and journalist Stephane Mandard over a 2006 article about doping, which had earlier been confirmed on appeal.

    Le Monde must pay Real Madrid 300,000 euros and Dr Alfonso del Corral, the director of the Real medical department, 30,000 euros.

    The newpaper was also ordered to pay Barcelona 15,000 euros in damages, reduced from the original 300,000 euros on a technicality, as the club had forgotten to include the original awarded total in the appeal documents.

    The case concerned an article, published in December 2006 under the headline "Doping: football after cycling".

    It claimed a link between Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Betis and Valencia and notorious Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who was sentenced to a year in prison and banned from practising medicine for four years in 2013 for providing doping products to cyclists in what was known as 'Operation Puerto'.

    The Supreme Court said the article was without doubt of general interest but was defamatory because Le Monde's facts could not be proven to be true as the journalist had not provided enough evidence to back them up.

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  16. The SPANISH authorities have done everything to protect their doping "heroes". Like the ruling to destroy the Fuentes blood bags. Or the ruling to "exonerate" Marta Dominguez. Or the ruling to "investigate the Spanish police over "operation Galgo".

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/sports/cycling/spanish-doctor-sentenced-in-operation-puerto-doping-case-in-cycling.html?_r=0

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/12072011/58/dominguez-cleared-second-charge-doping-probe.html

    http://espn.go.com/olympics/trackandfield/story/_/id/7038299/judge-orders-inquiry-spanish-police-operation-galgo-involving-marta-Dominguez


    Any ruling coming out of SPANISH courts is irrelevant.

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  19. Of the top players are ALL doing something, some of it is legal, special diets, long hours in the gym, longer hours on court, an entourage of physiotherapists, doctors, trainers, but the marquee players aren't sticking to the laxly enforced rules in order to extend their careers. Also, there's no such thing as a level playing field, genetic predisposition does a decent job of putting a winning margin's distance between the legends, the great players and the journeymen who are fortunate just to be eking out a meager living. Among the Mt. Rushmore caliber players, confidence, focus, mental strength, repertoire of shots, youth vs. experience, the presence of injuries, combine to determine the outcome on any given day. 4 players have now won 35 out of the last 37 GS events, 2 of those 4 have been imperiously dominant amid a group that's been utterly dominant, my guess is that this elite group of super achievers has access to better drugs, better injury prevention technologies and enjoy a level of privilege in the form of the sport's governing bodies turning a blind eye to whatever illegal methods they're employing to sustain such a staggering level of consistency and excellence. The field isn't level; sports aren't fair and cheating is the rule, not the exception. I'm not a monster, I'm just ahead of the curve, :-)

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