Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Discuss

The intro from Jon Wertheim's latest column:
We’ll start this week with a story. A few years ago, I was at an event when a player grabbed me by the wrist. “I want to show you something,” she said. She took me to a wall displaying photos of the event’s previous winners. One player had won the event multiple times. Her photos revealed a remarkably -- how to put this? -- evolved physique over the years, the equivalent of before-and-after images of a toning program.
“There,” the player said. “Now go write about it.”  
The implication, of course, was that the past champion had been doping, and these complementary images were unimpeachable proof...

36 comments:

  1. Some significant problems with his piece. First (assuming his little vignette is true), why did he need another player to point out the obvious? Secondly, if it truly made him suspicious despite feeling that it wasn't definitive proof, what exactly did he do to try and get to the truth (based on his writing from "a few years ago" when he was lauding the drug testing in tennis, I think we can safely say nothing, even when this website did some of the work for him). Third, would be what you can call the Lance Armstrong factor. At what point can you express some skepticism about a player who most anyone at the top of the sport would assume is doping? Armstrong got a pass from most American journalists even after aother cyclist wrote a book detailing the doping he did with him and several of his teammates were caught doping. By Wertheim's logic, you can never express such doubts unless a player actually admits to doping, which is not going to happen. On the flipside, at least he is critical of some of the testing, which is a start for him.

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  2. Given where JW is coming from, this article strikes me as a significant breakthrough. Even though his queries and skepticism may not rise to the standards of THASP's readers, it's a real breach in the dam for a mainstream journalist to raise so many questions. Plus, his last comment seems a clearly veiled reference to THASP, which was nice to see. So we should give him some positive feedback in the Comments section after his piece, and hope that he continues in this vein.

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    1. You make a good point. In the past, though, we get a journalist making a stronger statement like this and then there is never much of any follow-up and we get back to baseline in a "round up the usual suspects" kind of way. Hopefully, this will lead to something more, but it's hard to be too optimistic considering how it's gone in the past.

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    2. Agree. Strong pieces like this article are good, but they're nearly useless if journalists barely research and write once a year. Usually, there's a bidirectional relation between fans and journalists that servers the purpose to focus the pressure on important things that needs to be changed. In tennis, sadly, most journalists abuse their position to do the exact opposite, hiding the important issues from the people and focus in irrelevant things that generate money. Hope this changes soon, people start demanding integrity from journalists and journalists stard demanding integrity from the federation.

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  3. Nadal was asked about stem cell therapy and doping by El Pais this week.

    Full article here http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2014/11/19/actualidad/1416417153_936303.html

    He was questioned about using an treatment that's not permitted anywhere else but Italy..

    La incompetencia hace que se pueda transmitir la información de manera errónea. ¿Cómo va a ser dopaje? Primero de todo habría que saber cómo es la técnica. Segundo, si hubiera el más mínimo riesgo de que fuera dopaje, ¿cómo voy a hacer dopaje? Mi forma de entender el deporte, sin ninguna duda, me duele hasta contestarlo, es que colgaría la raqueta lo más alto que pudiera, para no poder descolgarla, antes de hacer una trampa y tirar por tierra todo lo que he hecho durante todos estos años. Uno tiene límites. Los cuerpos tienen unos límites. Uno no puede engañarse a sí mismo, engañar a la gente. Eso es lo que consigue el dopaje: engañar a todo el mundo, y al primero al que engañas es a ti mismo. Y encima pones en riesgo tu salud.

    Paraphrasing

    " incompetence makes it possible for erroneous information to be spread. How will you be doping? First of all we should understand the technique. Second, if there is the slightest risk of doping, am I going to dope? The way I understanding sport, no doubt, it pains me to answer this, doping would be going too far and creating a trap for myself, derailing everything I've done over the years . One has limits. The bodies have limits. You can not fool yourself, fool people. That's what doping does, deceive everyone, and the first you fool is yourself. And on top you put your health at risk."

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    1. He is either a fool ("fooled" by his team), a liar or telling the truth. So which is it? If he is indeed doping - as I'm inclined to believe he is in light of multiple strange occurences over the years - I am starting to believe that we will never truly know the whole truth.

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    2. Athletes statements about doping are pretty much worthless, The clean and dirty competitors all say the same things until someone gets caught, and then they still deny!

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    3. Armstrong almost cried when he said he wouldn't never dope because it would hurt his kids the most. 12 years later, he admitted it.

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    4. it's funny how he says it would jeopardize his health. so are we to assume it already has? in any case, still no denials at the very least. although sadly, this would definitely provide undeniable proof for his innocence for years to come for his fans.

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  4. One of the best mainstream pieces for a long time. I hope this starts a trend...

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    1. Indeed, it's a refreshing read and I sense none of his past cynism regarding the issue. I'm cautiously optimistic that it will open a few eyes.

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    2. Yes, and we can help this article to open those eyes by bringing it to the attention of, say, the tennis columnists of our local/regional newspapers via a quick email with link. And if Jon gets a lot of kudos from his readers (ie, us) for writing this one, he might be inspired to go the next step and explore doping a little further.

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  5. Nadal describes his "stem cell treatment" for his back.

    “Plasma is taken out of the blood and spun in a centrifuge until growth factor is left, which then is injected into the body to regenerate the tissues.”
    http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Rafael-Nadal-denies-doping-allegations--articolo21365.html.1

    As described (directly injecting "growth factors" {IGF-1}), that treatment is performance-enhancing, and illegal. This is the second time that someone from his team has admitted to direct IGF-1 injections. You are allowed to get IGF-1 indirectly through PRP treatments, but the amount of IGF-1 from PRP is too small to be performance-enhancing, Regardless, Nadal didn't call this PRP, he called it "stem cell treatment".

    "New to Most Fans, IGF-1 Has Long Been Banned as a Performance Enhancer", "it is believed to make an athlete bigger, faster and stronger. It may boost muscle, reduce fat and improve endurance"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/sports/igf-1-has-long-been-banned-as-performance-enhancer.html?_r=0

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  6. It's more likely to be an American player since they approached Wertheim and not press from their own country. Serena, Venus, Capriati.... take your pick.

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  7. Is there no one commenting about Serena's asinine statement regarding Officer Wilson?

    It's unbelievable how racist black people are.

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  8. I was also thinking of Armstrong, who else?, when reading El Pais interview to Nadal and the questions about stem cells treatment. It is not without conflict that I read such elaborated and almost moving statements by Nadal. Me who is rock solid convinced that Nadal is ready to do ANYTHING, short of killing himself in situ, to improve his performance. But that is just my personal opinion, of course.

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  9. Marius Copil, a Romanian challenger level player, gave and interview in which he stated he was offered €30.000 to fix a match, via a facebook message, and had his life threatened....

    Tennis is uniquely vulnerable to this kind of criminal activity, because of the large betting markets in the sport, its individual nature, and the financial struggle of life in the lower echelons.....

    That said, IMO, it's naive to assume that the problem ends there... The stork doesn't just magically deposit players in the top 30. They come from the lower ranks, and that process is getting longer and tougher. What happens to the player who succumbed to temptation along the way and cooperated with syndicated crime? The player may lose interest in accepting the bribes, when he/she starts to make big money, but the criminals don't forget. The players are in their pocket at this point, and become even more attractive prospects for the crooks....

    IIRC, unusual betting patters involving Kafelnikov and Davydenko matches were discussed in the media back in the 00s.......

    http://www.sportnews.ro/exclusiv-marius-copil-face-dezvaluri-explozive-din-lumea-tenisului-mi-s-au-oferit-30-000-de-euro-ca-sa-pierd-un-set-amenintat-cu-moarte-aradeanul-luat-o-masura-extrema-114502.html

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  10. How come there's talk about doping in regards to pretty much any player on the tour, but there's no talk about the 33 year old Federer who is playing the tennis of his life at the moment? If you really wanna play the 'everyone's guilty' card, then surely the supposed 'GOAT' should be one of the main targets as well, no?

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    1. Federer was suspiciously silent regarding the medical treatment used to recover from his back injury. In onw interview, he directly answered 'no comment'. Shame no journalist made any additional pressure.

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    2. Yep, the guy that has won one GS since the Aus Open 2010, is more suspicious than the guy who won 8. Sheesh.

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    3. indeed, he seemingly has a hard time sustaining his top level/stamina in best of 5, and it's been the case for a few years, really.

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    4. @GoldenAgeOfDrugs yeah, and just ignore the guy who got 13 majors and 4 runner-up finishes in a similar timespan at a younger age... i'm still hoping he is clean but come on, make a better argument than that, 'cause fed will look like a monster doper if that's what you're going to use...

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    5. Actually it was in a Davis Cup press conference and he didn't say "no comment". He was asked if he had a cortisone shot in his back and he said "If I did, I would never tell you." Get the facts straight before incorrectly quoting someone.

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    6. Lopi et al always having such ridiculous double standards. Being nitpicky about everything related Fed, yet making huge leaps of faith when acussing your most hated player.

      You're just hilarious

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    7. And you are naive. A strong case isn't made from weak evidence - or in this case no evidence, as there is nothing that links Federer's remarks to doping. You need to do better than that to have any claim you make that Federer is doping be taken seriously.

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  11. Interesting article about the substances that athletes are using legally to enhance performance....

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/opinion/sunday/when-doping-isnt-cheating.html

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  12. The stunning allegations about systematic doping in Russian athletes are going to to massively change public views about PEDs

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/03/russia-accused-athletics-doping-cover-up-olympics

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    1. And here I was reading tidbits from https://twitter.com/heywoodu

      Thanks for the article

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  13. Russian official dismisses systemic doping allegations because there is "no proof"

    Now, where have I (Lance) heard that before?.......

    http://www.si.com/2014/12/04/ap-ath-doping-russia

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  14. The article in The Guardian references a new German TV documentary titled "Geheimsache Doping - Wie Russland seine Sieger macht" - which you can watch in full here.

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    1. Germans talking shit about Russia? I am shocked.

      Those are the same people that support a US created puppet government in Kiev and voted for a circus freak at the Eurovision Song Contest, just to spite them.

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  15. Is there an english version available for this documentary?

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    1. English transcript here.......

      https://t.co/Eshbw0zimx

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  16. Russian athletics federation threatening legal action over doping allegations.....

    Now, where have I (Lance) heard that before?

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/05/russia-athletics-federations-legal-action-tv-documentary-doping

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  17. Tipping point: Doping is getting increasingly hard to ignore.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/tipping-point-doping-is-getting-increasingly-hard-to-ignore-1.2029207

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