Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bitti and Tignor on Cilic

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti on Marin Cilic's US Open win:
Cilic triumphed at Flushing Meadows having returned to tennis last October after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cut his ban for doping to four months from the nine month suspension the ITF originally imposed.
"In a system of justice, the first rule is to respect the sentence," said Bitti. "If the sanction has been reduced it means they have recognised some mitigating factor that the first level didn't consider."
Bitti said he was "very happy" to see Cilic win: "Cilic was always a good player. It's more that he has done the last steps - he was missing something, now perhaps he has found his balance in tennis."
He said tennis had introduced more blood tests and the quality of anti-doping measures was high.
"In terms of quantity, we also depend on the national agencies, which are not so much targeting tennis," said Bitti. "We are trying to convince them to do more on tennis. They are really focusing on cycling and other sports."

Across town at tennis.com, Steve Tignor has this to say in response to a reader's question:

You keep saying [Marin] Cilic is such a “nice guy.” Shouldn’t you be mentioning that he was suspended for a positive doping test last year?—Dan
Yes, we can't forget or ignore that. Certainly, seeing a guy who has never won a 500-level event, let alone a Masters or a major, suddenly play the best tennis of his life to win nine straight sets for the U.S. Open title, one year after being banned from the same tournament because of a positive drug test, is rightfully going to arouse suspicion. And last year I found it interesting that in 2012 the ITF tested Cilic “4-6” times out of competition; that was more than the 1-3 norm for most top players that year. Were the testing authorities suspicious even before he came up positive?
But before anyone offers an opinion on Cilic’s specific case, I'd recommend reading the summary of his ITF tribunal hearing from last fall—pretend it’s a short story by Kafka and it actually makes for some good, agonizing reading. I came away from it believing that Cilic was guilty of carelessness and bad luck—as well as a tragic reliance on his mother’s language skills—but not of deliberately trying to dope. That’s essentially what Roger Federer said when he was asked about Cilic’s suspension at the Open. He said the Croat was “stupid,” but that he felt like he knew him well enough to believe he wouldn't intentionally cheat.


  1. Tignor has never been a huge Federer fan. It surprises me that he would reference him to back up his own assertion that Cilic was just 'careless" and had "bad luck",

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    2. He probably did because referencing anything Nadal mumbled wouldn't carry the same weight? (The latter's unfortunate defense of Troicki comes to mind.)

      Tignor is the Gasquet of writing: flowery and talented, but no balls.

  2. I wonder why people take the tribunal decision as fact, when it's only Cilic's version of this issue.

  3. when have we not seen a sentence reduced? I think they even reduced Troicki's sentence and he flat-out refused a blood sample. This tells me that a player doesn't have to be innocent to have their sentence reduced and their points and prize money reinstated, they just need a shadow of a doubt about intent.

  4. First, Tignor brings up some rather good arguments for doubting the "nice-guy" label of Cilic only to then completely break in and cite that awkward decision as a credible reference to attest for Cilic's carelessness and bad luck...

    Really, Tignor? I thought higher of your reading skills. Or the truth may be that you'd rather see it as an absurd late work of Kafka which is per definition abysmal and conveniently leaves a lot of readers with little or no clue or certainty than to actually confront yourself with the doubts this questionable "prose" presents the attentive reader with?

    While tennis.com is at it, how about your own CEO pocketing some money from the USTA to co-finance the whole shebang? Is that careless and is that guy still a nice guy?
    The very website Tignor is also writing for, and presumably, gets paid for by that very money. I am curious to hear his thoughts on that kafkaesque, or rather, mafiaesque revelation.