Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brad Mousley: 1-year ban for ecstasy (and yet another mystery withdrawal explained)

Australian junior tennis player Brad Mousley has been banned for a year for taking an ecstasy tablet.

ASADA (not ITF) test at Futures event at Melbourne Park on March 30, 2014.

Mousley accepted a provisional suspension on May 30, 2014.

Ban made public on August 20, 2014 (backdated to May 30, 2014).

It is of interest that on May 30, consistent with his acceptance of a provisional suspension, Mousley withdrew from his semi-final match at the Astrid Bowl in Belgium. Of course, no mention of the suspension was made to explain his withdrawal.

Again, and similar to cases like Marin Cilic and Robert Kendrick, Mousley's case raises the issue of reasons for a player withdrawing from tournaments.

To refresh your memory of previous cases, the Cilic Decision stated that:

"He [Cilic] played and won his first round match at Wimbledon on 24 June. He has not played in a competitive match since. On 26 June his lawyers in Brussels responded on his behalf, voluntarily accepting a provisional suspension until a decision in the case, and waiving his right to analysis of the B sample. He withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a knee injury to avoid adverse publicity."
In the case of Kendrick, the decision stated: "[Kendrick] accepted a voluntary suspension from competition (with effect from 17 June 2011), thereby foregoing participation in the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon."

Because of the lack of transparency in tennis anti-doping policies, it is impossible to tell whether withdrawals (or any prolonged absence from the tour) are caused by legitimate injuries or provisional anti-doping suspensions. The sole exception is when the player is found guilty of a violation and the information is made public (if the player is found not guilty they would simply return to the tour with (or without) any (fabricated) explanation).

As a result, every withdrawal and absence is open to question. What are fans and the media to make from sudden withdrawals, followed by a prolonged absence from the tour where a player offers a vague, open-ended, or no explanation at all? The only way to solve this problem is to publicly announce all provisional suspensions at the time the provisional suspension begins.


  1. If we could only know the quantity of provisional suspensions per year, that'd be a nice start.

  2. So the anti-doping organizations are not bothered that players lie about their absences?

    Is that not a double-standard? You can't lie to us about hating needles, but it's ok to lie in public as to why you're not playing?

    1. Agreed. The lying is insulting to our intelligence and now whenever a player is out injured you always wonder if they are truly injured or if they are waiting out a suspension.

      Cilic originally said he pulled out of Wimbledon with a knee injury and the ITF and ATP were fine with going with that blatant lie. If it hadn't slipped out that Cilic had tested positive, he would have stayed out the rest of 2013 claiming "knee injury." Then we would be talking this year about his "remarkable" recovery from a "knee injury."

    2. so what are we to think of Tipsarevic and Almagro? Both have been out for quite a while. Are these injuries real?

    3. I don't know what to think about those two even though I find both their cases bizarre.

      Tipsarevic did put up an Instagram post a few months ago with him in a hospital bed after a surgery and he claims he only starting running again last month (but it seems like he's been out for an awful long time).

      I haven't heard anything about Almagro (isn't he supposed to have a foot injury as well).

      Also, what the heck is up with Robin Soderling? Do people believe it is/was mono or do they think it is/was a silent ban. He's been gone for over three years (hasn't played since July 2011). He keeps saying he's not retired and wants to come back but...

  3. This may be a stretch but bear with me. The other day I was watching a documentary about the Australian rock band INXS, which had their heyday in the mid-80s to mid-90s. The band name was originally "The Ferris Brothers" since there were two brothers in the band whose last name was Ferris obviously. Eventually they changed the band name to INXS (pronounced "in excess" to those unfamiliar). To most people the spelling was basically an artistic flourish, but the band admitted they had been influenced by another popular band at the time, whose name was XTC. Get it, like Ecstasy, the popular drug among teenagers at the time? Now call me crazy, but given the current dearth of rock bands coming out of Australia, perhaps the ASADA, by banning Mousley for using the drug ecstasy, was tacitly trying to take a jab at the current rock scene. Basically, it's like the ASADA is saying, "Listen, we know local rock bands from Australia, in the past, have been influenced by foreign bands like XTC, but we need our current rock bands to forge their own identities." Thus Mousley's drug suspension has more to do with sending a message to Australian rock bands to become more original and not rely foreign influences than it does with sending a message about doping.

    In short, if Mousley had tested positive for methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta, the ASADA wouldn't have cared. Again, this theory is a stretch, but I am believing it more and more. It's just becoming so hard to watch tennis nowadays and not think about how crappy the Australian music scene has become.


    1. I don't generally feed trolls, mostly because I don't know what they like to eat; so you'll have to forgive me if this doesn't go down particularly smooth.

      I agree with your general premise that it's perhaps a little unfair to be skeptical of every player with an injury, but I don't think that's Sen's point. The point is that the way the system is set up, we can't be sure if extended absences attributed to injury are actually due to injury. There are now multiple doping cases which demonstrate that point.

      I've struggled over the years with how I thought provisional suspensions should be handled. It would certainly be unfair to announce a positive test for an iconic figure, and then have them turn out to be truly innocent at the tribunal.

      I think where I land is that the system governed under the legal principle of "strict liability." That means that the presumption is that the player has committed an anti-doping violation once the "A" and "B" samples come back positive. It's the player's burden to prove otherwise at tribunal, as opposed to the prosecuting federation having to demonstrate guilt. As such, I would like to see all tribunal decisions released (guilty or innocent) IF the tribunal determines that a banned substance did enter the player's body through any means. That way, since the player is supposed to be strictly liable for the substance in his/her body, I get to determine if receiving NO PUNISHMENT in cases where a player is found to be "innocent" actually comports with my sense of justice. I would come down differently if it wasn't intended to be a system of strict liability. In cases where tribunal finds a player innocent due to the fact that the substance didn't enter the player's body (or they don't reach a conclusion as to that fact due to some flaw in testing), then I'm fine with that tribunal decision staying private.

      As for the Nadal situation specifically, I think logical people have a right to be skeptical if they so choose, and it's the doing of the ITF process of not releasing tribunal decisions for players found to be "innocent." When a player has multiple instances where an initial injury diagnosis predicts about enough time to heal as it would take for the "B" sample to be analyzed if the player were provisionally suspended, and then the injury becomes more severe at about the point that a "B" sample would've been analyzed if it were a provisional suspension, it's perfectly fair to ponder if that's truly an injury. It's certainly possible (maybe even likely) that he's injured. However, the pattern that played out in 2012 and is playing out again in 2014, is roughly the same pattern that I would expect a player serving a provisional suspension to use. That's the point. Not that he IS necessarily serving a provisional suspension, but that given the way the system works, we can't know (and have reason from previous cases to legitimately raise the question).

  4. MoonKrabbit, may I ask, what the hell are YOU on?

  5. Meanwhile, here is Nadal doing the ice bucket challenge despite an "injured" wrist.

    1. He just wanted the world to see him with the splint on his arm.