Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wertheim on Cilic

Jon Wertheim weighs in on Marin Cilic's US Open win (I'm guessing he didn't read this US Open interview with Cilic). Some excerpts:
"I risk being lampooned here, but I consider Cilic to be a triumph -- not an indictment -- of tennis’ anti-doping apparatus. In a strict liability world -- which, necessarily, anti-doping must be -- Cilic was guilty. Alibis and explanation can minimize damage in the court of public opinion; but ultimately you are responsible for what you put in your body...
"...He was given a chance, though, to author a new chapter, to do something so that “drug suspension” would not top-line his Wikipedia entry. And, to his credit, he did.
"I don’t think anyone is scrubbing this from the Cilic record. It’s an unfortunate stain that he’ll always have to counter. But he did the crime, he did the time and now he’s playing again. This doesn’t sound like a procedural breakdown. The system worked as it should."



44 comments:

  1. My favorite from that interview was "I mean, for me there was nothing much I could do because they played with the rules and they used it for their advantage." Right, the evil drug testers... Who but a doper would view them as somehow against him? They let him say that and they don't even respond. And what a bunch of suck-ups these writers are. Wertheim is the most pathetic of all. Cilic a "triumph." What a farce. I hope there comes a day when these idiots can be called for this.

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    1. I stopped reading his SI column three or four years ago. He always sounds so naive, all the while trying to look strong by deriding the odd question he choses to answer in his "mailbag".

      He is really just a useful idiot.

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  2. Why should anyone be surprised that a writer whose livelihood depends on him toeing the line, would turn a blind eye to what is right in front of him? Just as with the anti-doping bodies who have no interest in damaging their sport by catching a "big fish", there is a conflict of interests there.

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    1. This post recommended x1000.

      Wertheim lives up to his "Worthless" nickname. No shocker.

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  3. I do not think someone who is planning to dope would say what Cilic said. There would be a big chance of becoming a bigger target, I think

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    1. Tennis could well begin to display similarities to cycling's 'golden age of doping'... shoddy testing levels coupled with lenient/secretive punishments may result in players becoming more and more brazen, a la Armstrong.

      After all, if players are dumb enough to be caught during any testing (it appears one needs to be sub-80 IQ to actually get caught by the currently laughable testing extent), and then post-ban seen as 'courageous', 'redeemed' or otherwise championed by the tennis media, surely it is natural that the fear of being outed as a doper is greatly diminished? Players seem to have double layers of protection at the moment... both from the increasingly cloak-and-dagger ITF and then the fawning, delusional tennis media. It seems so easy for this 'ministry of truth' to help the masses forget inexplicable behaviour or doping misdemeanors.

      On side note, we read that Li Na has just announced her retirement. Almost a year to the day that Marion Bartoli announced her own 'sudden' career end. Granted, Li has been injured but considering that she won AO this year, to suddenly say 'I need to listen to my body' after a few tough months is a surprise, no?

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    2. True, Armstrong talked a lot of BS, others might too, but to me, if you are really clever, you would do as Federer, always say that you are all for more testing, then go nicely away with Mono, no questions asked

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    3. Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Jelena Dokic, Mario Ancic, Andy Murray, Marion Bartoli

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    4. Oh yes because only a doper would suggest more testing is needed. 0_0

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    5. "then go nicely away with Mono, no questions asked"

      Federer never took time off for mono.

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    6. Playing activity

      2007:
      1. Australian Open
      2. Dubai
      3. Indian Wells
      4. Miami
      5. Monte Carlo
      6. Rome
      7. Hamburg
      8. Roland Garros

      http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Top-Players/Roger-Federer.aspx?t=pa&y=2007&m=s&e=0#

      2008:
      1. Australian Open
      2. Dubai
      3. Indian Wells
      4. Miami
      5. Estoril
      6. Monte Carlo
      7. Rome
      8. Hamburg
      9. Roland Garros

      http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Top-Players/Roger-Federer.aspx?t=pa&y=2008&m=s&e=0#

      He even added one extra tournament (Estoril) in 2008, so what break are you talking about?

      And someone correct me if I’m wrong, but the longest(?) period Federer has taken off tour (excluding the off season) is 6 weeks, which he took in 2013 after Indian Wells. But we knew this in advance when he released his 2013 playing schedule at the end of 2012. So yes, in regards to Federer I don’t recall any suspicious breaks. Unlike some other players who appear fine/healthy during one tournament and then mysteriously vanish for months due to some odd injury or another. (Not to mention that this has happened on multiple occasions)

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    7. Sorry, I meant "got away", as you know, high incidence of Mono in a sport might be linked to EPO use

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    8. The Facts on Infectious Mononucleosis

      Infectious mononucleosis (called "mono" for short) is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a virus that affects nearly everybody at some point. The disease is sometimes known as glandular fever, because it causes lymph glands to swell up. It's also called the "kissing disease" because kissing is a common method of transmission.

      Before 5 years of age, 50% of individuals are infected by EBV. By 40 years of age, 90% of individuals are infected. Once you've caught the virus, it never really goes away. However, it can only cause symptoms in healthy people when it's still new in the body. After that it's kept in check by the immune system, though never completely eradicated.

      Of course, nowhere near 90% of the population has suffered from mononucleosis. Half of all people are infected with EBV before age 5, and this age group hardly ever has symptoms beyond occasional mild tonsillitis. Unless their immune system collapses, they will never have mononucleosis. In the 5 to 30 years of age group, most studies have found that about 10% of people with EBV get the symptoms of mononucleosis. The exception is college students, who have rates of around 1 in every 2 cases of infection, which is several times higher than non-college students of the same age.

      There are rare cases of mononucleosis occurring in older people, but usually the ones affected have weakened immune systems. Older people will usually have been infected much earlier in their lives. Such cases tend to be severe but not deadly.

      In recent years, a link has been postulated between EBV and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, but the latest studies seem to refute that. There is, however, a longstanding link with Burkitt's lymphoma, a cancer that occurs mostly in central Africa. EBV is also linked to other cancers such as Hodgkin's disease. EBV is one of very few viruses known to be capable of causing cancer.

      There's also a weak link with nose and throat cancer. The small minority of people who don't carry EBV have a lower-than-average chance of developing this cancer.

      http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=75&channel_id=1020&relation_id=70907

      I can see how tennis players would probably fall in the same group as college students since they are touching tennis balls and sweating all over the place during a match, putting their hands on their faces/eyes and in their mouths. If a player has mono I'm sure it would be easy to spread it to another player during a match. And I don't think 7 afflicted players (which you mentioned) is a large enough group to raise suspicions of doping.

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    9. "Sorry, I meant "got away", as you know, high incidence of Mono in a sport might be linked to EPO use"
      -
      I’m not too sure about the supposed link between EPO and Mononucleosis. The idea was first put forward by one Mr. Sergio Cruz back in 2008 (http://ezinearticles.com/?Mononucleosis-and-EPO---Is-There-a-Connection?&id=1063041).

      I've done some research and I haven't come across any other studies that show link between EPO and Mono.

      Cruz based his article on this study on Pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) by Paul Schick: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/205695-overview.
      There’s is nowhere in Schick’s article where it's written that there is a link between EPO and Mononucleosis. Instead Schick mentions that PRCA occurs in patients that have “autoimmune disorders, thymomas, systemic lupus erythematosus, hematologic malignancies, and solid tumors”. He also notes Infectious mononucleosis is one type of disease that can cause PRCA.

      There has also being other studies that say that use of EPO can carry the risk of development of autoimmune PRCA - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3741987/

      From this Cruz the somehow comes to this conclusion:

      There is a condition called PRCA
      EPO can cause PRCA
      Mono can also cause PRCA
      ergo
      EPO causes Mono.

      Translation:
      A person can develop “Sour throat”
      Alcohol can sour throat
      Mono can also cause sour throat
      Ergo
      Consuming alcohol causes mono

      Magnificent logic. He forgot to mention that Mono is sometimes (not always) is accompanied by autoimmune disorder.
      Cruz’s entire “study” is based on the fact EPO and Mono share a common symptom (PRCA), therefore EPO must cause Mono. What stupidity, but then again this is coming from someone who in one of his articles referred to “Lance” Armstrong as “Neal” Armstrong. I decided to read even more of Cruz’s works and it seems he wrote that article during a time when Nadal was being questioned by fans and critics alike and as an avid Nadal supporter he chose (as juvenile as it sounds) to retaliate by write a “startling report” (as he calls it) that EPO causes Mono. Anyway when Cruz is not serenading about Nadal and being an all around fan with typewriter, he spends most times belittling and complaining about Federer (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It just shows that there is a clear bias and that his articles regarding this matter are to be taken with a grain of salt.

      For evidence look through other articles on his website, it’s quite embarrassing.

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    10. It might be that Mono is used as a cover up for test failings? Why is the incidence so high in cycling?

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    11. It might be that Mono is used as a cover up for test failings? Why is the incidence so high in cycling?
      -
      I agree with this. I think that Mono can definitely be used to cover up suspensions. Same with knee injuries and any other excuses the player can come up with. The problem is that the ITF has almost no transparency and they refuse to announce certain results.

      In Cilic’s case I think his result got leaked by the Croatian media. If this hadn’t happened the ITF probably would have never announced his failed test and the public would have just believed that the reason for Cilic’s absence was due to the injury he sustained at Wimbledon.

      Reminds me of this:
      http://web.archive.org/web/20130210002907/http://footfault.net/2013/02/05/sports-consultant-claims-the-itf-was-involved-in-silently-banning-a-female-player/

      "Doctor Luis Garcia del Moral is best known for setting up the doping system for the US Postal cycling team, he also had more than a decade of guiding tennis players at the Spanish TenisVal Academy. A tennis player my former company managed went to train at TenisVal some years ago – breaking her contract to do so. She returned to Croatia leaner, stronger and with notable skin irritations. It came as no surprise that a random drugs test found her to have taken anabolic steroids, amongst other banned drugs. She received a 6 month ban and went back on tour. The governing body of tennis, the ITF, were informed fully of what had happened, yet in the 6 years that have passed nothing has happened"
      -

      Sadly, due to corruption within the sport when a player disappears from the tour it’s impossible not to think the worst and assume that there is a sinister reason behind their absence. Oh and Soderling is one who I think served a ban and used having Mono to cover it up.

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    12. The most telling evidence against Federer is not mono but the number of shanked forehands he hits: he is obviously trying to hit the ball like Nadal but only a "clean" athlete can hit the ball like the Spaniard - since Rafa is no doper. Right?

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    17. Black people have an average IQ of 80 as opposed to 100, which is the white average.

      This is a fact. No matter how much you keep deleting it.

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  4. So Nadal will come back from "injury" and play both doubles and singles in his first tournament back even though he's only 80% fit (according to his Uncle Toni). Something's not adding up here. I'm not buying it. A three month provisional ban that perhaps they managed to talk their way out of? Considering what we've seen with Cilic and Troicki, among others, I wouldn't be surprised.

    http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Rafael-Nadal-Will-Play-in-Doubles-With-Pablo-Andujar-in-Beijing-articolo20343.html

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    1. Now Nadal has withdrawn from the inaugural International Premier Tennis League in India in early December to "prepare" for the 2015 tennis season. What better way to prepare than to play tennis? Especially after being off the circuit for 3+ months? I wouldn't be surprised if he plays the exhibition in Kazakhstan and then doesn't show up in Beijing. This guy is too much.

      "We regret to announce that due to health reasons, Rafael Nadal will not be playing in the IPTL," the tournament confirmed on Twitter.

      http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/tennis/29309134

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    2. As usual though, the BBC's tennis reporting is dire - it appears to initially suggest 2014 is over for Rafa, before stating he is still 'aiming' to play the rest of the ATP scheduled tournaments.

      Got to look after those knees. I mean back. Is confusing, no?

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  5. This is an interesting article discussing a "game theory" analysis of why athletes decide to dope.

    The key point is that blanket testing, which is fully transparent to fans and sponsors is essential (something we don't have in tennis).

    "Clearly, athletes do not think they will get caught. And Dr Buechel and his colleagues think they know why. In a working paper they started circulating among their peers earlier this year, they suggest that the real game being played here has yet another party in it—the fans and sponsors who pay for everything. In their view, the inspector has several reasons to skimp on testing. One is the cost. Another is the disruption it causes to the already complicated lives of the athletes. A third, though, is fear of how customers would react if more thorough testing did reveal near-universal cheating, which anecdotal evidence suggests that in some sports it might. Better to test sparingly, and expose from time to time what is apparently the odd bad apple, rather than do the job thoroughly and find the whole barrel is spoiled and your sport has suddenly vanished in a hailstorm of disqualifications."
    "The authorities in any given sport would no doubt deny that Dr Buechel’s analysis applied to them. They would claim their testing regimes were adequate—and would probably truly believe it themselves. But human capacity for self-deception is infinite. It may thus be that the real guilty parties in sports doping are not those who actually take the drugs, but those who create a situation where only a fool would not."

    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21581978-sportsmen-who-take-drugs-may-be-prisoners-different-game-athletes-dilemma

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  6. We all know why the Buechel analysis wouldn't apply to tennis because as the ITF has already said, tennis is far too technical a sport for doping to have much effect. Nothing to see here, move on.

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  7. For some reason Nick Kyrigos, a player on the verge of greatness, has decided to call it quits on the season. Does anyone else find this strange or is this really just a matter of burn-out? Pete Bodo sounds sceptical as am I. Why kill the momentum by not playing a competitive match for three months?

    http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2014/09/nick-kyrgios-lost-food-chain/52858/#.VCK3P4CwJhV

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    1. Perhaps some players that got more than enough money this year decided to just relax. Life is more than tennis. Azarenka and a young australian female tennis player called it a season, too. Remembering the embarrasing flirtation between Vika and Nick on twitter, perhaps they're going to get 'enjoy life' a little more. xD

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  8. USADA testing to date this year. Interesting to see Serena and Venus tested more than Odesnik..................

    Michael C Bryan 1
    Robert C Bryan 4
    Jamie Hampton 2
    John Isner 3
    Madison Keys 1
    Bethanie Mattek-Sands 1
    Christina M McHale 2
    Wayne Odesnik 5
    Sam Querrey 2
    Sloane Stephens 4
    Serena J Williams 6
    Venus E Williams 6

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  9. Nadal is back and good as new. This is becoming comedic.

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  10. While others are struggling when coming back on the tour after a break of several months, Nadal once again manages to blast his opponents off the court without much of a hassle. What a joke.

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  11. Nadal and his cheating team obviously decided its time he wins the only big title he never won so far

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    1. yes. The WTF. It's clear as day. I don't remember him ever taking off the US hard court season and then coming back to play the Asian swing and indoor season. This can only mean that they have their sights set on London. How does this guy get away with this? The ATP should be ashamed, especially after that little Twitter gaffe after Wimbledon where he basically admitted to taking HGH. But they aren't. They put him up on a pedestal and welcome him back with open arms. sick.

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    2. This is a sick f*****g joke that has been going on for far too long. How can the commentators still pretend to look impressed whenever he wins? They are either amazing actors or slow witted/naive.

      P.S. Of course he is back for the WTF win, it is SO obvious.

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    3. I was discussing doping in tennis, and Nadal's latest comeback, with a coach who has played and now coaches on the tour and he said he had been told by a certain pro - he gave me his name - that in 2012 Nadal had been "tapped on the shoulder" by the ATP and told that he had returned a "dirty" dope test and would have to take some time off the tour, including missing the next slam on the tennis calendar, which was the USO. We know what happened. Nadal was off the tour for 7 months - and came back stronger than ever.

      The coach said he doubted the pro would make up such a story. If I told you who the player was many of you would recognise his name - but it would be unfair to name him here.

      As for a "clean" Cilic playing the best tennis of his life after coming off a doping suspension - we only need to compare the performance of track star Justin Gaitlin, who has recorded the fastest time in the world this year for the 100meter dash after recently serving a four year doping ban. And so it also goes with Nadal - always better after his sustained breaks. Don't you love professional sports?

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    4. @richard,

      Interesting, but it begs the question, how did the pro find out about this "shoulder tap"? Given what we know of the ATP, I don't see them divulging this to other players, nor do I see a peep coming out of team Nadal (HGH/growth factors slip-up notwithstanding).

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    5. It's pretty obvious there are two rules: one for top players and one for journeymen. We will never see a top player openly banned. Even when a "name" player gets banned, they are exonerated and given back their points and prize money, as we've seen with Cilic.

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    6. @DanM

      That's a fair enough question, but it also assumes that other players (or coaches or officials) WON'T know. How hard must it be to keep such things secret, given the natural propensity amongst insiders to talk to one another - if not to the media or the general public.

      One thing is clear however: there are tour insiders who believe it to be a fact that Nadal has been subject to a "silent" suspension in the past. Take that how you will.

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    7. @richard,

      I would be surprised if leaks didn't occur and spread among insiders. The problem is, I would also be surprised if people didn't fabricate things because, say, they think Nadal is obviously cheating and needs to be brought down. Who knows? Maybe some players have come to believe that silent bans are fact because they read this blog (or comments on ESPN, etc.), and then they feel compelled to spread that around a bit.

      Personally, I'm still not convinced about the silent ban theory because I don't see what's in it for the ITF/ATP to ban a top player--unless they literally think they are protecting the player form killing him/herself by forcing them to stop doping for a while (even then, doping is just as important for training as it is during competition, so I'm not sure that would actually have the desired outcome). Clearly, the leadership of the "Anti-Doping Programme" have shown no evidence of being motivated my ethics or morals. They want to give the appearance that they are keeping tennis clean, but they have utterly zero interest in jeopardizing the success of the enterprise by ending the career of a player many adore and feel is the "GOAT". So, what's the reason for banning a top player at all if they can't hold it up as an example of them "working hard to keep tennis clean"?

      My thought is that team Nadal knows he can't dope constantly for months/years on end without risking serious near-term (much less long-term) consequences. So, when the time comes to go off the juice, rather than risk embarrassing losses to lesser players, he just goes on vacation. There is also the possibility that *some* of his injuries have been real (e.g., the back injury in Australia), since his style is incredibly physical. When you look at the way he comes back so strong from long layoffs, if the silent bans are real, they just really don't seem to be punitive. It's pretty clear he can't maintain his best form without breaks, so I think it's entirely possible the layoffs are self-imposed.

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    8. Fair enough point. But it doesn't necessarily explain all his absences, particularly the more protracted ones.

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    9. I agree, that seven month absent seemed unusually long (maybe he really did get sick prior to Australia?). However, I'm not sure how I'd explain suspensions of arbitrarily different length either.

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