Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tennis anti-doping budget on the rise

The ITF's agenda for it's 2014 annual general meeting has been posted.

There are a couple of interesting bits of information. First, there is a significant ramp in the anti-doping budget from 2013 through 2016. In 2013, the actual spend was $2 million. In 2014, the anti-doping budget is planned at $2.6. It hits $3 million in 2015 and $3.1 by 2016. This planned spending represents an increase of over 50 percent. (See the budget tables on page 12.)

Hopefully, the increase in budget is spent on designing and executing an effective and intelligent anti-doping program.

The other bits from anti-doping are the following (on page 152):
The number of samples collected under the Programme in 2013 rose by 26% compared to 2012, and a further increase is anticipated in 2014. (See figure 1). Following its introduction into the Programme in 2013, around 350 Athlete Biological Passport blood samples have been collected in 2014 at the time of writing. The total of 2,185 samples collected under the TADP in 2013 represents about two thirds of all samples collected from tennis players by all anti-doping agencies...

A total of 48 Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) were granted under the TADP in 2013. The average time from receipt of a complete TUE application to a decision by the TUE Committee was again under 3 days, which is believed to be the shortest of any anti-doping organisation.

The 2014 Programme is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Testing under the 2014 TADP is ongoing, and at the time of writing, over 1,000 samples have been collected from around 40 events, including Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Grand Slams, ATP Tour and WTA Tour and Professional Circuits.
I have to say that I'm not sure having the shortest time for TUE decisions is something to be proud of. How closely is the ITF looking at the applications?


An additional point I'd make is that the ITF came in $208,000 over-budget for anti-doping spending for 2013 (budget of $1,848M v. actual $2,056). The extra-expenditure is described as being caused by "legal costs required for the cases which came up in the year." (page 7) This result is significantly different from the four previous years of underspend, where costs were typically stated to be "lower than expected due to fewer positive cases."

So, what exactly happened on legals costs in 2013 that was so different from previous years?

2012: $180K under
Budget: 1,597M
Actual: 1,417M

2011: $288K under
Budget: $1,601M
Actual: $1,313M

2010: $301K under
Budget: $1,578M
Actual: $1,277M

2009: $122K under
Budget: $1,548M
Actual: $1,426M


  1. So now we know at least 48 players are doping. The TUE system is just a scam for dopers.

    The blood passport is meaningless unless you have volume (of tests per player) and the ITF does not deliver that. $2.6 million annual spend in a much bigger sport compares poorly to UCI's spend of $5.5 million. And the cyclists are already microdosing their way round the passport.

    Don't fool yourselves with impressive-sounding percentage gains. The reality is more like this:-

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    2. To be honest, I think you really need to what drugs/drug classes are being allowed under TUEs. I think sports could release that data without violating patient privacy laws.

      I suspect that many TUEs are legit. I don't think any one is getting one for EPO or hGH, as the prescriptions would virtually never be medically plausible in a high performance athlete.

      For instance, asthma affects 5-10% of the general population. Use of the most common acute reliever medication doesn't require a TUE for usual therapeutic doses (the max allowed dose of salbutamol is not artificially performance enhancing in a healthy individual). However, most other inhaled commonly prescribed long acting/preventative asthma therapies do require a TUE.

      I read the official guidelines for the TUE process and it does seem rigorous in requiring the athlete's MD to supply not just a "doctor's note", but copies of all the test results, actual scans etc, to back up any diagnosis. I believe that there is also scrutiny of the MDs credibility. I'm not saying it can't be abused (look at the UCI accepting a back-dated script for cortisone from Armstrong), but because there is documentation and possibility for future scrutiny, I doubt this is a way sport silently sanctions doping. They can do that more effectively by not testing enough or testing badly.

      The two situations which spring to mind where athletes might abuse the TUE system are 1] adult attention deficit disorder, necessitating scripts for meds that increase focus/concentration (the diagnosis here is clinical and not based on something objectively proven with a lab test or scan), and 2] Low testosterone. I guess some male players could be playing the low testosterone card, but I they can still measure total concentrations and T/E ratios, so I'm not clear how easy it would be to use a TUE to dope in a way that's better than testosterone microdoping.

    3. It's not the TUE itself. It's what they're doing under cover of the TUE. It's amazing just how many world class field and track athletes have asthma conditions requiring TUEs.

    4. I want anti-doping organizations to release anonymous data describing the number of TUEs for specific conditions / drugs. This would not violate patient privacy laws, and would allow a rough comparison of disease incidence in the athlete population vs that expected in a general population with similar demographics. Critical info, IMO.

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  2. The entire annual anti-doping budget for the ITF is less than Nadal won at the US Open last year. It's a freaking joke.

  3. Perhaps there was a rise of provisional suspensions or at least cases opened by virtue of the passport and the player's lawyers managed to keep those cases a secret? Transparency MUST be improved.

    1. It's way too early to open any passport case as the normative data isn't there. Some are saying there never will be. Like I said, the dopers in cycling have already learned to manipulate their way within the parameters of the passport. It's a cast iron certainty that old man Horner was doping to win the Vuelta last year.

  4. It comes down to WILL. No matter what the changes are to the "system", if the ITF doesn't want to catch a popular player, they won't.

    When the Fuentes case broke in Spain in 2006, the Spanish courts claimed they had no anti doping laws (they had the Olympics in 1992, and the IOC would never have allowed Spain to host the Olympics if they thought doping was legal in Spain). Since Spain has introduced new doping laws, all elite level Spanish athletes who have been caught doping, have been "exonerated" by Spanish authorities (Valverde, Contador, Munoz, Dominguez,...). Spain has since introduced even more laws (in an attempt to gain another Olympics for Madrid). Instead of more transparency, we get less (destruction of Puerto blood bags). It doesn't matter how many laws they have, Spain doesn't have the WILL to catch Spanish dopers, because of the prestige these frauds give Spain.

    The cycling authority (UCI) knew for many years that Lance Armstrong was doping. The UCI were responsible for catching the doping cheats in their sport, but they did the opposite (they protected Armstrong). The USADA caught Armstrong, not the UCI. In spite of the UCI having the toughest testing program (much tougher than tennis), the UCI didn't have the WILL to catch Armstrong, so they didn't catch him.

    The ATP bought Andre Agassi's lame excuse, when he tested positive for recreational drugs (Hey man, I got it from Slim's drink), because they didn't have the WILL to out a very popular player.

    All of the laws, and tests are meaningless, if you don't have the WILL.

    Bitti says :“We have to protect the integrity of tennis, but our attitude on the sports side is that a positive doping case is a sad day. The attitude of the other side, as we see with Dick Pound, is that it is a celebration. It is a different mentality.”

    Do you think the ITF has the WILL to catch one of the "big 4", if they are doping, or will they protect them ?

    Again, any changes made to the anti-doping regime are strictly for show (otherwise we would see an increase in positive results on those new tests).

    1. You said it. There's a lack of willingness right across the board to catch dopers, whether sporting federation or the nation as a whole. We all look the other way when a doper is winning medals for his country.

    2. That Bitti quote makes me nauseous.

      At my most charitable (and I'm obviously really reaching here), it could spring from the knowledge that a major scandal involving big names would devastate the sports reputation, and in the process alienate fans, sponsors, and advertisers, ultimately hurting all the honest, hard working people whose lively-hoods depend, directly or indirectly, on tennis.

      I'm more skeptical, though. I suspect it's more about people with privileged positions protecting their cash-cow. Denial is never a solution to a problem: it just makes them worse.

      International organizations are intrinsically conflicted. They want scandal-free sport more than doping-free sport.
      I am firmly on "Team-Dick-Pound"

    3. @ arcus

      Knowing how the U.S.T.A. funding is used to benefit its own board members rather than young upcoming players (see my post below) shows you how incestuous this sport has become. And how the buisness part of it has long corrupted the sports integrity.

      If the U.S.T.A. bascially co-funds media outlets like, it becomes clear why no real opposition exists. No one in their sane mind whose check depends on this equally shameless & illegal manouver would dare to call out someone like Serena Williams or the U.S.T.A.'s very own conflict of interest by allocating some of their funding - which should be solely designated to player development - to fund their own board members adventures... Needless to say, those writers won't touch doping with a ten foot pole, knowing the consequences.

      So far, none of their scribes has even written single word on that NYTimes piece. THIS is lamentable, I'd think.

      The Biti quote is very telling indeed - with that mind set, you won't even catch a fly.

  5. First, did you guys all read this interesting piece of information about how EXACTLY the U.S.T.A. blows their annual 213 million $$$$ budget?

    We have all been going on about how chummy and close the tennis scene is (cue to: Stockholm syndrom) and identified this as the MAIN reason for the incredibly mind-boggling lack of critical thinking/differing opinions in tennis etc. etc. pp

    Well, let's look at this then: the NYT's MC-Escher-like outline of where that money goes, or rather, whose board member pockets it fills:

    Remember, US tennis currently has NO presentable heir to the Williams/Roddick throne and showed little to NO interest in investigating ANY of the BIOGENESIS findings, despite this happening on their hometurf in Florida.

    Also, remember our mantra-like complaints about the tennisDOTcom mafia - those fanboy ostriches pretending to be journalists over there... They get A LOAD of money straight out of the U.S.T.A. pocket, through their board member/president Jeff Williams, the nayccce sum of, buckle up:

    2,7 million $ annually!!!!!

    For, um, well, what exactly, you'd wonder? Travel fund? Excellence grant in critical tennis reporting? Not really.

    Hush-money seems more appropriate, no?

    "Jeff Williams, the longtime publisher of Tennis Media Company, sits on the board of directors of the United States Tennis Association, the sport’s governing body and the organizer of the star-studded United States Open.

    Williams’s company is also the U.S.T.A.’s single largest contractor, having received $2,782,700 in 2012, a relationship that the U.S.T.A. has not clearly disclosed in its public filings."

    Something is rotten in the state of tennis...

    Also, I co-sign Peter Gilson's above shared doubts about the correct usage of TUE's in tennis and lack of test samples collected to have a substantial basis for comparisions/detection.

    1. I forgot to add my two cents regarding the OVER-spending in 2013.

      Clearly, it seems like the leaked Cilic and Troicki cases did cost them some heretofore unforseen funds, I mean, prior to that, it seems they did not do any substantial hearings and nothing had been leaked to the media, that is, caught considerable public attention... resulting in the attempt to actually somewhat put up the fa├žade of legal dealings according to "the rules" under the public eye...

      Let's see if 2014 lists overspent fundings for legal costs as well - you'd wish they'd allocated some funds to investigate Biogenesis or Del Moral...
      I know, I know, in my dreams ONLY...

    2. That's why many people/fans around the world have been saying that it's all ego that Serena Williams continues to be protected in tennis, especially at the big tournaments, so that she (the USA) could continue to be up there in the sport as there is no one really up there in the game from the USA. It's not credible though as (minus the steroids/doping talk) she is far from possessing high level of tennis skill and tricks. The rest of the field are more complete and ahead of her. However, if you're on banned substances, then that could be a factor and help. Watch the women's side closely at the US Open 2014 to see if this is true. Because so far Williams is still alive in the draw, while all these high seeds and natural talents have been "exiting" at Flushing Meadow. Hmm.....

    3. "It's not credible though as (minus the steroids/doping talk) she is far from possessing high level of tennis skill and tricks."

      You're an idiot.

    4. Likewise. Plus one that wears rose-tinted glasses. Good luck.

  6. On a side note, Murray is so unsportsmanlike, that's no news, I know.

    Whenever he is about to tank a match, he begins his muscle cramp schtick to irritate his opponent. I have seen this one too many times.

    I am so over it - how annoying and unfair to Haase, who rightly called his antics out.

    1. Are you serious? Murray plainly started cramping badly at the start of the third set - struggling to make simple shots - 78 mph first serves - when he had just gone 2-0 up and was in control so hardly about to tank the match! In fact kudos to him for not pretending it was some other injury so he could call the trainer like almost all other pros do (cramp being a condition that does not allow for the trainer to be called). Haase himself called for the trainer twice!

    2. Murray holds his thigh to show "discomfort" when he misses a shot, yet a few seconds later, hitting a winner, the leg sin't bothering him anymore. Time and time again.

      Murray is a spoiled tennis brat of the highest order.

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    4. Whether he calls a trainer or not, that was not my point, I was getting upset about how he repeatedly used cramps tactically to derail an opponent. Granted, Hasse is not a mental giant, so this is easy. Yet, he clearly stole his momentum.

      By doing this, it get's harder to believe Murray's pain - so maybe his cramps were real, yet, after numerous occasions where you could see him hitting lights out shots after cramps, it got harder and harder for me to believe him, this is was my point.

      On a related note, Murray does like to train in Florida a lot, like numerous other players, in that respect I'd really like to see a thorough investigation of all ties into tennis at Biogenesis.

    5. I saw a buffed up Murray since Cincy/Montreal. Now he's getting cramps? Steroids anyone?

    6. Cramps are due to dehydration. You can get dehydrated from diuretics. Diuretics can be used to mask PEDs.

    7. Cramps can be caused by roids too. It's funny that the livestrong page has a lot of resources about side-effects of doping subtances X-D

    8. That's why I don't ever say the "Big 4" but it is the "Big 3" - Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. This is the legendary trio of this era. NO WAY is or was Andy Murray in this. The gap was huge.

    9. Yes, but the gap between Murray and the likes of Tsonga/Wawa/Berdych/Ferrer is also enormous. Maybe Big 3.5?

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