Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ricci Bitti: Words of Wisdom

The President of the ITF has dropped some absolute pearls of wisdom regarding anti-doping in tennis:
"Quantity doesn't mean quality. The program in anti-doping has to be very focused and I'm proud to say the tennis program is one of the best,'' he [Ricci Bitti] said, adding that ''there could be a little bit more'' testing.
The ITF has the right to retest samples for a period of eight years. This has been used in other Olympic sports in the past to catch drug cheats from past years using modern technology, but Ricci Bitti said the ITF very rarely used its right to reopen samples.
"We retain all our testing and we can retest,'' he said. ''I believe in sports like the Olympics, this has some value because it's one competition every four years, but we test the players continuously, so it's not so important."
I can only assume that this means that the ITF doesn't consider it necessary to retest samples related to players that have been linked to Dr. Fuentes, or Dr. del Moral, or the Biogenesis clinic.

Do we need any further evidence that the tennis anti-doping program lacks competent leadership?

66 comments:

  1. "I believe in sports like the Olympics, this has some value because it's one competition every four years, but we test the players continuously, so it's not so important.""

    He isn't even trying to make sense.

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  2. So the excuse for never testing past samples is that he believes that the Olympics sports only test their athletes once every four years, therefore tennis doesn't need to yes past samples? Cannot grasp any logic whatsoever in this.

    And this guy is responsible in anti-doping efforts in tennis?! Or just PR efforts?

    His comment is easily up there in tennis's 'most ridiculous anti-doping comments of all time' along with Stuart Miller's 'tennis is not inductive to EPO' comment a few years ago.

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  3. More comedy: 'Tennis is becoming much more demanding. Today, at this level, it's very difficult to play two days in a row,'' he said.

    I thought he said tennis is a game of skill and doping won't help tennis players. Now, "clean" players can't last 2 days in a row?

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  4. All of his comments on doping in tennis have made me cringe.. This interview is up there with the worst of them. He gives me Hein Verbruggen vibes.

    It's risible that he's acknowledging that IOC testing operates with a different level of rigor vs that from international federations, and trying to explain that difference away with nonsense.

    Speaking of Mr Verbruggen: He's just denounced that CIRC report that alleged UCI collusion with Armstrong as "scandalously biased" and a "character assassination".... Deny and obfuscate, deny and obfuscate........................

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  5. Two pieces of information this weekend made me question whether tennis is doing its job. One is that the points difference between number one Novak Djokovic and number two Roger Federer is the biggest in the history of the ATP. Maybe it's unfair but I can't help thinking about Lance Armstrong. Second, the New York Times had a long story about the abuse of adderall among professionals like lawyers and start-up entrepreneurs. Are tennis players tested for adderall? It seems like the perfect drug for the sport, given the importance of extended concentration. Also, can players get theraputic use exemptions for adderall? And is that data public?

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    1. Has anyone ever started off a season winning the Australian Open and first three Masters events before? Djokovic is looking like the GOAT right now. Wonder if Nadal will transform into unbeatable claycourt king in time to stop him from collecting the Career Slam.

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    2. Adderall is a mixture of various amphetamines. Yes, amphetamines are tested for.

      An athlete would simply get a TUE for Adderall, and would not risk taking it otherwise, as amphetamines are too easily detected. In any case, Adderall has too many side effects and top athletes would use xenon as an alternate.

      Although xenon is more known for its "EPO" abilities, it also doubles as a ADHD type enhancer. See Br. J. Anaesth. 2012, 109, 887 for a description of xenon use as a Norepinephrine uptake inhibitor. If you google "Norepinephrine uptake inhibitor," you will see that it has the same positive effects as Adderall without the dependency and other side effects. In addition, there is no test for xenon.

      Looking at Djokovic, he has miracle focus, miracle recovery, miracle endurance, and is not remotely worried about testing positive. All of this makes xenon the likely choice.

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    3. Very interesting joe, thank you.

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    4. Joe, the article you cited also mentions xenon's use as a general anesthetic during surgery. So your theory might also explain why Djokovic never seems to be feeling any pain (meant as a joke, but who knows?).

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    5. Djokovic won the Aussie open and his first 4 masters in 2011, but he skipped Monte Carlo that year so he didn't win it, but only has himself to blame for skipping it. So no, I believe no one has ever won the Aus open plus the actual first 3 masters.

      With Nadal still getting back to his best (I'm sure he'll be right as rain for the French) he could, in fact should, in the meantime win Madrid and Rome too. That would make it the Aus open plus the first FIVE masters.

      And if he gets by Nadal at the FO he will be at least half a chance to win The Grand Slam. The real one. All four in one year.

      Move aside Rod Laver, once serial weakling Novak Djokovic is perhaps about to take your GS crown.

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    6. Thanks Joe; although I wonder if you are being too logical about athletes not using adderall. Apparently, it's a significant problem in the NFL and a major league baseball. The information about xenon is fascinating. http://www.cbssports.com/general/writer/gregg-doyel/24706564/adderall-the-new-drug-of-choice-for-many-major-leaguers

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    7. Mystery, in terms of the anesthetic effect, it takes a large amount of xenon be used in anesthesia. (Exactly how much is shown here: http://www.medicalgasresearch.com/content/3/1/12 ) However, you can use a lower amount to essentially kill the pain. This is very effective for recovery and dealing with DOMS (sore muscles). That is why I say looking at Djokovic, everything looks like it is just xenon. Can't say the same for Nadal.

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  6. Oh the authorities in tennis are extremely competent. How else could they so smoothly and nonchalantly cover up tennis' doping problem for so long (decades)? I think it's about time we stopped pretending that they're trying to catch the cheats. They're enabling them and aiding and abetting them, and every anecdote or official statement backs this up.

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  7. Speaking of MLB... http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-braves-andrew-mckirahan-reportedly-suspended-20150420-story.html

    McKirahan was busted for an hgh related drug. The article notes that he is the fifth player in the last month to test positive in MLB.

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    1. Major League Baseball is the only sport organization that seems genuinely interested in catching the cheats. They're tired of drug enhanced "physical specimens" raping its hallowed record books. Kudos to the powers that be over at MLB - and thank you to the players' union which uncharacteristically approved of more stringent testing. An example to follow for the ATP.

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  8. Another naturally occuring hormone to test for - thyroxine: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/apr/22/jo-pavey-unethical-use-hormone-replacement-drug-thyroxine

    Does anyone know if that's ever part of the panel in doping screens? Higher than normal levels could certainly benefit performance and endurance.

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    1. Thyroxine is not currently banned by WADA, so there would be no reason to test for it. It does show up on routine blood tests, but that is only the level of the hormones -- not whether medication was taken to increase them. These will be the T3 and T4 values you see on your blood test.

      WADA has debated banning thyroxine for years. Here is a blog article from 2010 where WADA was still "investigating" http://sorebuttcheeks.blogspot.com/2010/03/world-anti-doping-agency-may-ban-use-of.html .. 5 years later, still "investigating."

      I suspect that while thyroxine is abused in body building, its uses in general sports, such as those covered by WADA is not nearly as extensive. It is useful for weight loss, but for tennis athletes, this is typically not a problem. Even marathon runners burn plenty of calories in training to where weight loss is generally not a problem. Also, HGH treatments cause thyroxine to increase (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7208169). So, no need for Nadal and others to double up on that one.

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  9. It's interesting that if you look at cycling statistics, there is a report of the number of theraputic use exemptions that have been granted. I can't find anything similar for tennis. I would think we should have a report of the number of exemptions granted and the relevant drugs. I understand that they won't provide player names for privacy reasons but we should have the other data.

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    1. And in related comedy, Lance Armstrong says the UCI (cycling's version of the ITF) is not strong enough on anti-doping: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/cycling/30984162

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  10. Off topic, but this is an interesting program dealing with corrupt practices in sports gambling, including "spot fixing" and "court-siding". The latter is the practice of paying people to be present at live matches, and transmitting point by point information in real time to gambling syndicates, so that they get and edge in the market. They interview the guy who was arrested for doing this at the Australian Open........

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05r3w43

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  11. Agassi (used doping) at the peak of his form would have a 20% chance against the current form of the current top four on hard.
    I have no doubt in the use of chemistry even mary pierce and juistine henin

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  12. Massive doping in horse racing:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3059848/Dozens-winning-horses-drugged-Kentucky-Derby-race-course-one-SPEED-Official-figures-reveal-shame-trainers-Churchill-Downs-ahead-nation-s-favorite-race.html

    Horses blame it on tainted supplements.

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  13. Djoko skipping Madrid to 'rest'. I understand it's a hectic schedule with two masters and a slam nearly back to back, but as if he needs 'rest' rather than another dose of xenon/EPO/egg chamber.

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  14. In this WADA sanctioned experiment for the 'Athletes for Transparency Organization, a French TV program documents an experiment where a number of 'guinea-pig' cyclists were studied during a month of micro-dosing with EPO, hGH, corticsteroids, as well as a 250mL transfusion..... They had significant performance enhancement, despite blood parameters that would not flag as abnormal under the UCIs Biological Passport..

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/french-television-report-shows-how-micro-dosing-can-beat-uci-biological-passport

    Thasp Blog, does this deserve a post of it's own? Especially on a day when another scientific article (based on data from the early 1900s!!!!) questions the value of doping, and is getting tons of traction in the press.

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    1. WADA have since denied any 'endorsement' of this study.. They argue that these findings should be peer reviewed and published, rather than just being announced on TV with out proof or the necessary scientific rigor....

      The problem is that a rigorous and expansive publication relating to an evaluation of PEDs in the context of the BioPassport would probably involve putting too much sensitive information in the public domain, and might actually aid dopers. There are also ethical issues involved in studies of potentially harmful drugs being administered to healthy athletes, with no potential health gain.....

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    2. To the extent the study is valid, it confirms what I have come to believe lately, which is that doping is prevalent in a lot of sports, including tennis; but we will never know and the culprits will continue to collect trophies.

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    3. Good find. But if your cycling article gets its own thread, then my horse doping article gets one too!

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  15. Travis Tygart tells it like it is (again).... He's talking about Golf, but same could apply to tennis....

    “If you have the obligation to not give a sanction or to stick the file in the drawer and not go forward, I’m not in any way suggesting that’s what [the Tour] have done, but the policy allows for that. Without any accountability elsewhere it’s hard to know for sure,” Tygart told GolfChannel.com.

    “We’ve certainly seen other high-profile sports, cycling in the past, where in ’99 with Lance Armstrong’s corticosteroid positive, that’s exactly what the sport did. After the report that just came out detailing that sad saga it was clear they did it because it was going to be harmful to them and to the sport.

    “That’s the pressure and the tension that you have going back to the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s awfully difficult and in our experience impossible to both promote and police your sport because you have this inherent duty to make the brand look good and not have any bad news out there.”

    http://www.golfchannel.com/news/rex-hoggard/golf-one-year-away-olympic-drug-testing/

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    1. A gem from that article is a comment from Andy Levinson, the PGA Tour’s executive director of policy administration, and the guy apparently referred to in Tour circles as the circuit’s anti-doping czar... He is referring to the undesirability of blood testing (golf has not been doing this and ergo no hGH testing at all.............

      “Specifically for golfers or athletes who are involved in sports that have fine motor skills involved you just want to make sure that there’s not anything whether it’s sticking a needle in the arm or if someone has an issue with a blood draw of any kind that it won’t impact their performance,” Levinson said.


      Victor would agree wholeheartedly!!

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    2. I nominate the following for the gem of the article:

      “All you have to do is look at page 28 of their [anti-doping] policy and they ask the question, in the FAQ guide for players, ‘How can hormones be used to enhance performance in golf?’

      Here is the manual: http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/208240/PGATOURANTI-DOPINGPROGRAMMANUAL2009_1_.pdf

      Here is the excerpt (which is not in the article):
      How could hormones be used to enhance performance in golf?
      Athletes have been known to take HGH to increase muscle growth and the hormone ePO to stimulate the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Other hormones such as chorionic gonadotrophin (hcG) increase testosterone production.
      insulin is a normal substance within the human body and has
      reportedly been used by athletes to increase muscle levels of glycogen and reduce protein break-down.
      These banned hormones could help an athlete recover from injury more quickly, increase energy and reduce fatigue. There could also be a beneficial application for golf due to the potential to increase driving distance, which is contingent upon club head speed, a component of golf swing mechanics and the body. if the body is able to generate more power within the biomechanics of the golf swing, it will increase club head speed. further, injury recovery and reduction in tissue breakdown could allow
      an athlete to train longer, more intensely, and return to tournament competition faster.

      At least it is not a "drugs don't help golfers, it is a game of skill" argument. But basically, it is a "how to" guide for doping. Read the FAQ on stimulants, hilarious.

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  16. Even the Pope knows there is a doping problem in tennis..................


    Pope tells Italian tennis players to steer clear of doping, urging them to be real role models........
    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/sport-sport-deporte-doping-doping-dopaje-40941/

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  17. Breaking News!!

    During an audience with the Italian Tennis Federation ahead of the Internazionali d’Italia tournament in Rome, Pope Francis warned players against the risk of “taking shortcuts” through doping for example. He underlined that tennis is a “very competitive sport” that can put athletes under “pressure to achieve top results” when they can instead be “precious role models” to others.....

    The president of the Italian tennis federation, Angelo Binaghi pointed out that the Pope’s dress made him look like a true tennis player and presented him with a white tennis racket....

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/sport-sport-deporte-doping-doping-dopaje-40941/

    Obviously, the president of the Italian tennis federation, Angelo Binaghi, kwows Ricci Bitti pretty well !!

    What a huge hypocrisy!!!!

    Best regards.

    Fabrice, greetings from Italy.

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  18. Nadal's recent press conference comments sure have been interesting. Besides his well publicized admission that he's been struggling with nerves in big moments, he's also been justifying his lackluster performance as normal for someone coming back from injury and a long time away from the game.

    Am I the only one whose first reaction upon hearing this is "WHAT???!!!"?

    Since when has it been difficult for Nadal to come back from injury? Every time he's been injured in the past (or should I say "injured"), his comebacks have been nothing short of astonishing, not to mention immediate.

    Either this is the first time he really was severely injured (the appendectomy certainly seemed legit, and there are good reasons to believe his back really was hurt as well), or this is the first time he's been off the juice for a long period of time. Or perhaps both.

    In any case, it certainly seems like Nadal is struggling more mentally than physically. He may have lost a step, but he still seems more than capable of defending and dictating with his forehand. His backhand was just miserable against Murray, but it seemed like an issue of timing and belief, not power.

    These certainly are "curious" times.

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    1. In 2009 Nadal skipped Wimbledon due to a knee injury. He was a shadow of himself for the rest of the season after returning. It wasn't until the clay season in 2010 that he looked the same.

      Now, this raises the question about how he bounced back so well other times, but this has definitely happened before.

      This year in particular he looks every bit as physically fit as ever, but he is not able to maintain his focus. Maybe it's just getting older, maybe he has switched PEDs and there is a mental aspect to that, who knows.

      In any case, this has happened to him before.

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    2. I guess I was thinking more about 2013, where it took him about one tournament before he was dominating everyone on both clay and hard court. Also, you have to admit that he's pretty much always terrible during the Asian swing and indoor season, so the '09 example pretty much comes down to him losing to eventual champion del Potro in the US Open semis, which is the same round he went out the year before. Not exactly a disgrace.

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    3. He looks FAR weaker than usual.

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    4. > He looks FAR weaker than usual.

      Are you talking about actual MPHs on serves and shots or just your impression? To me, he seems to be moving and hitting at full strength, but he's just making so many more errors on easy, neutral balls than he used to.

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    5. He seems to be making more UE than ever before. Also, his shots aren't as "booming" as they usually are - MPH seem down too. For instance, on clay, I recall his performance against Djokovic in the French Open 2013 semi-final: his shots in that particular match were videogame-like. I don't see this right now, which is highly unusual for him this time of the year. You often see him playing like this towards the end of the year, but never around spring time. I wonder if it's as simple as him laying off the PEDs this time around - and if so, why exactly?

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    6. > I wonder if it's as simple as him laying off the PEDs this time around - and if so, why exactly?

      That's the million dollar question. Djokovic certainly doesn't seem to be off them this year.

      It could just be that Nadal is now clearly past his prime. There was never any question that his playing style would result in a significantly shorter career than, say, Federer's. Also, the formula for beating him is relatively clear at this point--hit the $h!t out of the ball and don't miss too much. Obviously, easier said than done for most players, particularly on clay, but players can now take the court knowing Nadal is not invincible. That makes a difference.

      If Nadal has juiced as regularly during his career as many of us believe, it certainly seems like he's benefited as much mentally as he has physically. His focus and concentration have probably brought him more victories than anything. Also, when you are confident, your muscles relax more, and you hit harder, so you can't really separate the mental and physical aspects.

      Whether he's down on actual strength now or just belief, something is definitely different than the past.

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    7. Well said. Still, I'm surprised he has lasted so long with that grueling style of his. And it's not like he's finished yet either. Opponents still have to give it their all to defeat him.

      If Djokovic is indeed doping (which I believe he does), why is he able to play the whole year at a very high level without any long breaks? I mean, it's not like he's a pure attacker like Federer is, rather he's a human backboard like Ferrer out there - but unlike Ferrer, Djokovic never has any dry spells.

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    8. > why is [Djokovic] able to play the whole year at a very high level without any long breaks?

      That's another really interesting question.

      I think it comes down to the fact that Djokovic doesn't rely on his physicality quite as much as Nadal. In terms of offensiveness, he may not be Federer, but he can hit very penetrating shots without the herculean effort Nadal seems to require. I agree with your comparison with Ferrer in terms of style, but Djokovic is just plain better than Ferrer in nearly every aspect of the game.

      So, maybe Djokovic is using PEDs mostly to aid endurance and recovery and not so much for the purpose of adding power. If you look at his frame, it's quite clear he doesn't have any extra muscle bulk on him.

      Also, people like to make fun of the whole "gluten free" thing, but I think it at least helped resolve his asthma-like symptoms and his general tendency to be sickly. So, I don't think you can say PEDs (and the egg) are responsible for all of Djokovic's sudden improvement in 2011, though I would assume they played a role.

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    9. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I believe you're saying Djokovic, unlike Nadal and Ferrer, is not purely a creation of steroids. I would agree with that assessment. Even without the ridiculous 2011-2015 stamina, he was really good and the complete package. Unlike Nadal, Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez, I don't consider him a total fraud and a creation of systematic doping. But yeah, no way the guy is totally clean. You just need to read between the lines when the topic of doping is brought up to understand the guy has skeletons in his closet.

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    10. Yeah, that's pretty much where I was going. I'm not sure I'd go as far as saying "purely" a creation of steroids, but Nadal and Ferrer are definitely much better than they would otherwise have been. I do think Nadal at least would have been a *good* player, perhaps top 20, definitely not top 5. I sometimes wonder, if he hadn't had access to PEDs, if he would have been forced to develop flatter, more penetrating strokes just to survive best of five matches.

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  19. I am enjoying the Tom Brady dialogue this afternoon, especially the Patriots fans who are proud to proclaim their loyalty regardless of any evidence of cheating. And of course, we have the fans who insist that a deflated ball couldn't possibly give any real advantage, not unlike the tennis fans who insist that epo can't possibly help with on-court performance.

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    1. On the contrary, I feel the deflated football thing is a relatively stupid diversion and was blown out of proportion big time. In a sport where dopers are all but tolerated, the league acts tough on this? To me, they are using the controversy (the NFL is) to regain some of its integrity. I get that there should be sanctions (like using cork in a baseball bat, sandpaper on a baseball, etc.) but it's the PEDs that are the cancer to sport. Things like somewhat deflated footballs are like a mild flu. I don't really get the outrage - I am admittedly a fairweather NFL watcher and not a die hard gridiron fan, so take this with a grain of salt.

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    2. I agree Picasso this whole thing is a smokescreen. The NFL is struggling with image problems due to the concussion issue, the domestic violence issues (Ray Rice), and the obvious fact that the entire league is built on exogenous testosterone and HGH, which compounds the concerns surrounding the first two issues. Just like we see low ranked tennis players take the hit for PEDs in order to it make it look like the authorities care, they are cashing in on this football inflation issue to distract people from the more serious issues that are lurking in the league and giving the impression that they care about integrity.

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    3. Exactly. Look at NFL games from today compared to 25 years ago. The quickness, speed and brute force are eons away from what it was back then. No, it's not the cleats and padding that are the reason for this drastic change. lol. Same thing in hockey: the speed of NHL skaters in the playoffs today compared to what it was 20 years ago is astounding. It's like a different game. They never get tired, yet they are playing since September... and we're in May! To conclude on the NFL, it has no integrity, they don't know what to do, so they ban one of their best, most popular players for as many games as the caught dopers. He so happens to be white, so that helps the League with its image too: "see, we don't suspend only black thugs, squeaky clean superstar whiteys also get the banhammer!". Two birds with one stone. Anyways, professional sports are beyond redemption, integrity-wise. Like I said, the only sport who has a semblance of integrity THESE DAYS is Major League Baseball.

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    4. I actually agree to some extent about the smokescreen and I think Roger Goodell is terrified that he might have to confront serious cheating and doping issues. However, it's still interesting to see how defensive fans are in the face of any cheating issues, including evidence unrelated to doping. The desire to make it all go away is strong.

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    5. More on Goodell - the official Patriots response to the Wells Report (http://wellsreportcontext.com/) makes the NFL look more and more like the ITF. This new website includes a point-by-point rebuttal of the flimsy evidence (and the dubious process for gathering that evidence), plus a critique of the NFL by a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry - why can't we get one of those on THASP!

      I agree with others that Deflategate is a smokescreen, but it might just blow up in their corporate face.

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  20. +++Unannounced testing?:


    Williams withdraws from Italian Open

    World No. 1 Serena Williams has withdrawn without explanation before her third-round match vs. Christina McHale. The Italian Open is the last major warmup before the French Open later this month.

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    1. Williams cited an elbow injury. Surely this will either heal completely until the FO and/or won't impede her movements then.

      Murray pulled out as well due to "fatigue". Guess he didn't bother to come up with something better since the officials don't care either anyway.

      If Nadal loses his next match in straight sets, we have definite proof concerning testing in Rome as well as doping of specific players.

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    2. As far as I'm concerned, fatigue should be a legitimate reason to sit out a tournament. If it weren't, players would be put in a position to claim injuries they don't have or, ahem, find ways to recover faster. Any player who sits out a mandatory tournament must take a zero pointer, which I think is a reasonable punishment.

      As for your other point, I don't see how the outcome of Nadal vs. Wawrinka would provide "definite proof" of anything, but it will be interesting to see which version of each player shows up.

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    3. Murray was debating whether or not to play Rome. Given the ridiculousness of the scheduling he was subjected to in Munich (3 matches in one day), and Madrid - match starting at 1 am, it's no wonder he was knackered. Serena on the other hand.... Meanwhile Nadal seems to be finding his form just in time for the French Open............

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  21. Christiania Ronaldo's legs these days. And the world still has no idea this guy is soccer's answer to Ben Johnson.

    http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2015/5/12/8593619/cristiano-ronaldo-hikes-up-shorts-to-reveal-absurdly-ripped-action

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  22. Watching the Spanish steroid monkey go toe to toe with the Super-Serb is evidence enough for me that Ferrer is still on his regimen just as much as when he officially had Lance Armstrong's doctor in his corner. On this current form Ferrer will easily beat Federer should they each make the final, despite being his clear inferior all his career.

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  23. Well, another M1000 title for Djokovic. Unless he suffers some kind of freak injury or illness, I can't see anyone stopping him from winning the real Grand Slam this year.

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    1. Oh don't be ridiculous. He might not even win Roland Garros.

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    2. Maybe not but he's the favourite as far as I'm concerned. Forget about Kneedal. Unless he's in Mallorca right now injecting bionic juice into his veins he'll be lucky to make it past the 4th round at RG. With him out of the way Djokovic is a lock. He's so hot right now it's scary. I can't see anyone stopping him and he'll most likely get a cupcake draw because the powers that be want him to win it. It can only be good for tennis that someone other than the Spaniard gets his hands on La Coupe des Mousquetaires. And the opportunity for a calendar year Grand Slam is making them salivate all over their draw sheets. And then there's Federer, who is playing pretty damn well for an almost 34 year old. But I think RG isn't really his goal. He would no doubt love an 8th Wimbleldon title or a 6th USO. He would have to get a really yummy draw at RG and not expend much energy in the early rounds (in other words, no 5 setters) in order to stand a chance. And of course he'd have to avoid you-know-who at all costs. That's my take anyway.

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    3. I think Djokovic has almost as much chance of winning the grand slam proper as he has of not winning it, on current form.

      Unless Nadal improves out of sight (not impossible especially in the next fortnight) or Stan beats him in five sets at the USO quarters or semis, there is a real chance!!

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  24. Also THASP, or SNR, how about a new thread in time for the French ... ?

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  26. This Roland Garros is going to be very interesting now with Nadal and Djokovic duking it out in the quarter finals (that's if Nadal makes it that far). Should be fun.

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