Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wimbledon Thread


My only note is that admitting to missed out-of-competition tests appears to be all the rage:

Mo Farah missed two drugs tests in buildup to 2012 Olympics, say reports 

Chris Froome: I missed a drugs test
I hope that the tennis press musters up the courage to question tennis stars about missed tests at Wimbledon. The most infamous missed test in tennis is, of course, Serena Williams's panic room incident, which resulted in no sample being collected.

However, Serena is far from the only top tennis player to have an attempted out-of-competition test result in no sample being collected. As documented by this site, in 2010, the ITF posted this document for its 2009 testing programme.

The following players were listed with an Out-of-Competition test for which there was a zero in each testing column (urine, blood, EPO):

1. Griffioen, Jiske 21/03/2009
2. Moya, Carlos 16/05/2009
3. Benneteau, Julien 20/05/2009
4. Karlovic, Ivo 31/05/2009
5. Stubbs, Rennae 12/06/2010
6. Nadal, Rafael 14/06/2009
7. Bolelli, Simone 15/06/2009
8. Williams, Serena 16/06/2009
9. Williams, Venus 16/06/2009
10. Acasuso, Jose 17/06/2009
11. Gravellier, Florence 18/06/2009
12. Mauresmo, Amelie 01/07/2009
13. Mathieu, Paul-Henri 07/07/2009
14. Sharapova, Maria 09/07/2009
15. Simon, Gilles 09/07/2009
16. Nestor, Daniel 15/07/2009
17. Vaidisova, Nicole 24/07/2009
18. Roddick, Andy 15/08/2009
19. Walraven, Sharon 18/08/2009
20. Huber, Liezel 24/08/2009
21. Del Potro, Juan Martin 26/08/2009
22. Hantuchova, Daniela 26/08/2009
23. Pous-Tio, Laura 29/08/2009
24. Cirstea, Sorana 14/09/2009
25. Wawrinka, Stanislas 15/09/2009
26. Anderrson, Johan 19/09/2009
27. Ferrer, David 22/09/2009
28. Jankovic, Jelena 22/09/2009
29. Ancic, Mario 23/09/2009
30. Black, Cara 18/10/2009
31. Raymond, Lisa 19/10/2009
32. Federer, Roger 28/10/2009
33. Pironkova, Tszvetana 31/10/2009
34. Wozniak, Aleksandra 01/11/2009
35. Andreev, Igor 11/11/2009
36. Chakvetadze, Anna 12/11/2009
37. Nieminen, Jarkko 14/11/2009
38. Tursunov, Dmitry 14/11/2009
39. Lopez, Feliciano 16/11/2009
40. Peer, Shahar 17/11/2009
41. Bhupathi, Mahesh 21/11/2009
42. Pavlyuchenkova, Anastasia 22/11/2009
43. Wozniacki, Caroline 23/11/2009
44. Fish, Mardy 24/11/2009
45. Querrey, Sam 24/11/2009
46. Bartoli, Marion 01/12/2009
47. Simon, Gilles 08/12/2009
48. Kohlschreiber, Philipp 21/12/2009
49. Koellerer, Daniel 30/12/2009

When asked about the triple zero entries the ITF responded:
The results you are referring to were missions that resulted, for whatever reason, in no sample being collected.

127 comments:

  1. Most players received only 2 out of competition tests that year, and half missed one of them. The solution from the ITF was to pull the document and stop giving specific information about who was tested and when.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way, if any journalists are interested in seeing the original document before the ITF whitewashed it, just drop us a line...

      Delete
  2. I think some of these players really must have had a good and fair reason not to get tested; it can't be that all of these players are doped.However it is quite suspicious and should be thoroughly investigated

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 5toB St,
      No players or the ITF provided any explanation at the time. On the contrary, they pulled the document from their website and made sure nothing like that was ever published again. Can you think of an explanation for why half the top players would miss one of only two out of competition drug tests in the one year we have data for it? I think it certainly can be that most of the players are all doing some kind of doping. It certainly was the case in cycling. If you only have 2 out of competition tests a year, then you only needed to take one to avoid getting cited (at that time). So you could dope, and if you are to be tested and know you are "hot", you skip the test and stay clean until the next time they test you. They had a whereabouts rule, so they had to say where they would be each day and the time of day they wanted to be tested, so what is the excuse for so many players missing a test? Try asking the ITF.

      Delete
    2. agreed. On the list of people who have spent time in the top 25 in the rankings over the last 5 or so years, Roddick and Querrey would be on the list of the least likely players I'd suspect of doping. Both were very outspoken on Odesnik being allowed back on tour as well, and although Odesnik was born in South Africa, he identifies as American and pretty much all of the American players of this and the last generation are pretty tight.

      Delete
    3. @THASP,

      Wait, did you just say that, at the time, players were allowed to skip one OOC test? If so, is it really a big deal that many players chose to take the ITF up on that offer? I'm not seeing how this in itself is evidence of doping. It sounds more like evidence that players don't enjoy the inconvenience of being tested, so if they can avoid it without penalty, they will.

      The parts that's disturbing to me is that players were only given two OOC tests, and that they could skip a test without being cited.

      Delete
    4. Players could (and still can) miss a certain number of tests in a certain timeframe. (I can't remember exact figures off top of my head, I think it changed last year.). The time period is a rolling one, so a missed test lasts another 12 or 18 months, whatever it is at the moment. So, a player won't deliberately miss a test if they are clean, as they may (deliberately or otherwise) miss a future test too, and put their career in jeopardy. Like what happened to Wickmeyer.

      I think you are being far too understanding of the players who decide they are unavailable for a test when they have given a testing-time window of their choice.

      Delete
    5. @Mystery,

      I didn't realize the time period was rolling, but I don't think it's that clear how a player would behave under such a system. If I'm a clean players, and I know that skipping a test today means that I had better be available for any future test that comes around over the next year, my decision really depends on (1) whether I think it's likely I'll be tested anytime soon (given how few OOC tests are given) and (2) how inconvenient it would be to be tested right now.

      As far as being understanding of players, well, they are human beings, and they will take the path of least resistance like any other human being. The fact that they are well paid and live a life of privilege does not mean they're going to submit to hassles that aren't absolutely required.

      As far as I'm concerned, the onus is on the "programme" to increase the number of OOC tests and implement tougher rules. Most players are going to get away with whatever they can, so don't give them a freebee.

      Delete
    6. Three dodged tests within a twelve month period incurs a doping violation.

      Delete
    7. A few years ago one of the Bryan Brothers missed/dodged two tests in a relatively short period of time and he got targeted extra-special by the testers. Of course he made the subsequent tests because someone probably told him he'd get suspended if he didn't start giving samples.

      Delete
  3. THASP - this is pretty damning info. Why not be pro-active and send that document to the "usual suspects" among the tennis journalism crowd? Maybe one or two (Wertheim?) will bite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick,
      This was damning info that we pointed out 5 years ago and it, at best, raised a few eyebrows. This does seem like a good time to reintroduce it, though.

      Delete
    2. Sports Journalists in particularly those within tennis wouldn't touch the data, no matter how good the potential story or how relevant the information is.
      They simply do not want to risk being cut off from their contacts within the sport. There was a time when players and events alike relied on coverage journalism brought, but the introduction of agents and their respective spin machines have made this relationship obsolete. Sports Journalist can very easily find themselves cut off if they cross the person's or organisations.
      If anyone is going to bring the data and details to light it will be someone from outside the tennis and perhaps sporting circles who has nothing to loose from rattling cages.

      Delete
  4. The 2013 WADA report suggested that there were 4 NON-ANALYTIC anti-doping rule violations among tennis players (a non-analytic ADRV generally covers test refusals, 'whereabouts' violations, possession etc). I am only aware of two such cases, based on the IFT site from that year (Troicki and Da Silva Barata).

    Where are the other 2? Were they related to skipped tests?

    ReplyDelete
  5. What's the biggest change in tennis over the past 10 years? Sebastian Grosjean and Jon Wertheim have the answer..........It's more strength and more speed!

    http://t.co/zqPU5l8LOX

    How did that come about, though? Gyms and fitness training weren't invented in 2005. Is it something to do with gluten and special diets?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its the rackets and strings. Now, go spend some more money on our sponsors. Oh, and the shoes. Buy some more of those too and you will play like a pro.

      Delete
    2. I think it's a tough call. Of course training is nothing new, but from what I've observed, training methods have definitely evolved a lot over the past decade or two. It seems like players spend an inordinate amount of time doing footwork drills and core strengthening. Has that always been true? I'd say the same thing about nutrition. Players know more about what macronutrients to eat and when (and yes, if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it's not ridiculous to think that avoiding gluten could help your breathing). Finally, serious treatment after matches now seems to be standard practice: deep tissue massage, ice baths, etc. I know these things weren't just invented, but were they done so regularly in the past?

      None of this means that some or many players aren't also doping, but I don't think doping alone explains the increase in physicality we've seen over the past 15 years.

      Delete
    3. Errani says it's her new racquet so that definitely proves it.

      Delete
    4. Just to underscore my point: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/tennis/33338301

      Sample exerpt:

      -----

      I do an ice bath after every single match throughout the year, whether it has lasted one hour or four hours, because I just feel like it helps me.

      After Tuesday's match I came off court and went on the bike, and was given water and a sports drink by my fitness coach Matt Little. I probably drank about a litre or so in the 30 to 40 minutes after I came off.

      I then had a shower, drank a protein shake and ate some pasta and chicken. Then it was about 45 minutes with physio Shane Annun for a massage and a stretch, and then an ice bath.

      -----

      The game has changed.

      Delete
    5. I call BS on the "nutrition" argument. Yes players in the 70s snorted cocaine and probably ate poorly, but players like Lendl and Navratilova had nutritionists on their team and starting in the 80s almost every player started strength training and watching their diets. So to say this recently started is false.

      Also, in regards to "gluten-free" there is numerous research that gluten allergies are being misdiagnosed and overstated in many cases. Unless you have celiac disease, going gluten-free isn't going to help you much.

      Delete
    6. > So to say this recently started is false.

      @Seeya,

      If you are referring to my comments, I never claimed that players just started thinking about nutrition. I'm simply saying that we know more today about diet, training, and recovery than we did in the past, and there probably isn't a single player in the top 100 that doesn't take all these things incredibly seriously. Of course, we know more about doping too, and perhaps players are feeling increased pressure to partake in that as well. So, is the increased physicality of the game today due to better health and training practices or doping? The answer is probably both.

      > That gluten allergies are being misdiagnosed and overstated in many cases

      I wouldn't be surprised by that at all, but the real question is whether Djokovic's allergy was misdiagnosed or overstated. Maybe I'm remembering incorrectly, but it seems that prior to 2011, he was rather asthmatic and sickly despite possessing obvious talent. While doping can certainly improve strength and stamina, it seems like Djokovic really was one of the probably rare people who needed to go off gluten to be his best. (And, again, he may have also began doping, using his oxygen egg, and who knows what else.)

      Delete
  6. USADA investigating Salazar, and going to question Mo Farah......

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jun/27/alberto-salazar-inquiry-mo-farah-usada

    ReplyDelete
  7. What about the 2008 document? Was that ever covered by this blog? It seems like the version currently live has forgotten to redact the Roland Garros 'triple zeros'. Does that mean they missed a test within the tournament? Wouldn't that be quite a bit problem? Or is it just entry errors?

    Triple Zero names at Roland Garros 2008:
    Yung-Jan Chan
    Arnaud Clement
    Alexander Waske (only test all year)
    Gisela Dulko
    Ekaterina Makerova
    Serena Williams
    Sebastian Prieto


    ReplyDelete
  8. Serena Williams is apparently studying for a pre-med degree at the University of Massachusetts......."There’s so much cancer that is going around now. So it’s really an interest in that."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/wimbledon/11703654/Wimbledon-2015-Serena-Williams-to-study-medicine-after-retiring...-but-first-world-No1-eyes-the-elusive-grand-slam.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to see that she well be able to "give back" to the sport by writing TUE's for the next generation. With quality physicians like Ferrari and Del Moral "retiring", it is time to train the next generation.

      Delete
  9. David Ferrer out with an 'elbow injury'?! That's the lamest excuse since Cilic in 2013. Anyway it gives Nadal a chance to walk into the qtr finals where he'll probably beat Murray.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @DanM......
    This the rule about missed tests............. "Under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, any combination of three whereabouts failures, which include filing failures or missed tests within a rolling 12-month period may result in an anti-doping rule violation and lead to a loss of funding, medals, prizes and other money, as well as losing the chance to compete. This is a change from the previous Code in which an anti-doping rule violation resulted from three failures in an 18-month period."
    http://www.usada.org/resources/2015code/

    2 tests within the window (accidentally or on purpose) = still golden. In tennis, the public will never even know. Don't you think dopers might exploit that lack of transparency?

    Given today's round-the-clock 'connectedness', and multi-person entourages, it's harder and harder to believe athletes can miss tests. If I were a wealthy professional (clean) athlete, I'd make damn sure I never missed one. Otherwise, I'd be putting myself, and the sport that paid my salary, in jeopardy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think any high-ranked player would miss a test accidentally. I'm just saying that a missed test in itself is not evidence of doping because a player may simply reason that he/she can get away with one--make that *two*--failures without penalty. From the list THASP posted, it appears that just about everyone skips tests. You can conclude that just about everyone dopes, or you can conclude that there are other reasons to skip tests besides doping. I go with the latter.

      Delete
    2. It certainly raises doubts. It also means that you can run into a panic room instead.

      Delete
    3. To me, it raises more doubts about the *system* than it does the players. It should not be permissible to miss tests, at least without a legitimate excuse that can be documented.

      Delete
    4. I'd say through association the two don't have to be mutually exclusive, and seem justifiably otherwise in certain contexts.

      Delete
    5. I'd say through association the two don't have to be mutually exclusive, and seem justifiably otherwise in certain contexts.

      Delete
    6. "From the list THASP posted, it appears that just about everyone skips tests."

      Murray and Djokovic are two very prominent names missing from the list. Obviously this was before Djokovic's gluten free days.

      Delete
  11. Doping awareness among athletes, and the public, has increased significantly since 2009. Post-Armstrong, all parties are more saavy, and if athletes knew missed tests would be made public, and awkward questions would follow, then I suspect they wouldn't play fast and loose with the rules for any reason other than doping..........The problem is that there is no longer any real transparency, so we don't know whose missing 2 every 12 months, and who should be pinging on our radars.. I acknowledge that with micro-dosing this conversation might be moot, though....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about transparency. If the testing "programme" where legitimate, they'd have nothing to hide, and players would be forced to show up to all OOC tests.

      Delete
    2. Of course the program itself is flawed, very flawed. That is part of the problem, as if some players would not try to take advantage of this. And to suggest that clean players skip dope tests and it's not suspicious, as though they are all naughty schoolkids skipping class occasionally, not professional sportspeople earning plenty and taking doping issues and potential bans seriously, is naive. Of course not every single player in this list must be doping, but the point is, many could be and probably are.

      Delete
    3. I don't agree at all that skipping a quasi-mandatory doping test demonstrates a lack of professionalism. It's no different to me than players skipping skip quasi-mandatory tournaments in an effort to manage their schedules (both Djokovic and Federer skipped Masters 1000 tournaments this year if I remember correctly). Neither indicate a lack of professionalism to me. It's just players (and their support teams) doing what they think is in their own best interest at the time.

      Delete
    4. Skipping tournaments makes perfect sense, they have to fly to another country, play for a week, thrash your body, lose preparation for the next tournament, etc. but none of these are relevant when missing a doping test when they come knocking on the door, in my opinion. I am sure some players miss the odd test through slackness, don't update whereabouts, etc, but when they get the seriousness of dope testing and missing a couple of tests read out to them, I can't believe they are all that lax!

      Delete
    5. Agreed. Transparency is in short supply on the tennis circuit, it might very well be the most "closed" sport in terms of transparency out there.

      The only reason we know about Serena's missed test (ie. the Panic Room incident), is because she called the police on the testers from doping control saying that they were "stalkers." We wouldn't even have known about it if she had just hadn't answered her door and done nothing. So it's her own damn fault that incident is out in the open.

      Delete
    6. Did it cross your mind that she might not care what you guys think and that she called the police because she had a real panic attack? What if they said someone said she was absent? What difference will that make? Did she carry the panic room to Wimbledon in 2009? What made you think her fear was not legitimate?

      Delete
    7. Eric Ed, how do you explain Serena being unable to even bounce a ball during her doubles match at last year's Wimbledon? Do you really write it off as a "virus"? (If so, I wonder what virus would cause that.)

      Delete
    8. If I can't explain it, it doesn't mean she must be doping. The fact of the matter is that didn't seem to last long.

      Delete
    9. It certainly looked like she was on something. The virus explanation just doesn't pass the smell test, and that lowers my trust in her even below what it already was. It doesn't prove she's doping, but it does make it seem all the more likely.

      Delete
    10. All players take a lot of medicine. These can have side effects and combined side effects that we wouldn't be able to elaborate on. Nobody ever saw anything like that before and people have been doping since forever. So I wouldn't even say there was a likelihood that doping was a cause of that.

      Delete
    11. If it was two medicines interacting, that she did in fact lie when she said it was a virus.

      Delete
  12. Beautiful colors on this page. It smells something wonderful around the corner. It smells the 21th. Just as few weeks ago, the 20th waz comingz, in a few weeks from now, the 21th would be comingz.Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not if she has a "panic" attack.

      Delete
  13. Mattek-Sands on a nice little run now, what with the helping hand she has from a lame ITF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kind of fitting she lost to Bencic who was losing bad then took an MTO and miraculously regained her game. But I'm not feeling sorry for Mattek-Sands at all, especially since she's more likely than not the American female player named in the previous post who tried to cheat to get an advantage.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  14. Impressive win by Dustin Brown, but Nadal was flummoxed and lost it, fourth straight year. Something's wrong, but it's not the size of his biceps.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Another early Nadal lost... Could it be that the biological passport is scaring him from using his usual "treatments"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think there's any reason to think Nadal's "treatments" are any different than any other year. Doping doesn't ensure victory.

      Delete
    2. Sure, but for the last year, his results have been abysmal: he's been losing left and right to no names or plain mediocre players. It feels different this time too than the odd loss he suffered at the hands of the likes of Rosol or Darcis a few years back. I'm certain his camp will come out with some injury excuse to explain the last year when they find a new magic potion, lol.

      Delete
    3. I just think Nadal's body is shutting down on him. Whether that's due to his style of play, his doping routine, etc. I don't know but Nadal is a shell of his former self.

      There's only so much you can put your body through before your body just says enough.

      Delete
    4. Nadal started doping since he was a teenager. It mean more than a decade of heavy doping. That staff has lost now its effect and it's starting to show its negative sides on his physique. If you think using PEDS regularly is without consequences to your health, you better think again. Nadal's nightmare has just started. The appendix is just the beginning. Other parts of his body will follow suit and give up. I just pity the guy. He has no idea he has set up himself for a miserable second part of his life.

      Delete
    5. That is exactly why I wonder how in the world Serena is able to play so well at 34 years old. She must have been reverse doping all along

      Delete
    6. Not unlike Barry Bonds, who started doping in 1998 at the age of 34, she looks to have started to dope later in her career. I don't purely see her as a steroid creation à la Nadal, as she won quite a few slams in her early years. Without PEDs, she just wouldn't have been able to dominate the field for the past six years the way she has, that's all.

      Delete
    7. Now we change the story. Now Serena who has been accused of doping since she was a teenager must have just started doing to make the dots connect? When one needs to change the rules to make a case, it is much more plausible that the case in question was doomed for failure from the beginning. At least Serena's fans and haters alike can agree that she is a special in the sense that common rules don't seem to apply to her.

      Delete
    8. Relax, it's just me speculating. I haven't checked with my fellow conspirationists what the official "hater" version is. ;-)

      Seriously though, it's obvious she's on the stuff.

      Delete
    9. By hater, I mean hater, not racist as I am a hater of Nadal and it is not because of his race

      Delete
    10. No worries, I didn't take it as a race issue - in the grand scheme of things, it's irrelevant.

      Delete
  17. For whatever reasons or probably for the same reasons why no one can point out signs of doping displayed by Serena Williams when she is playing, she also seems to be biologic passport proof.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. no one really cares about women's sports

      Delete
    3. No one cares about Wimbledon either since they turned it into a clay-court tournament.

      Delete
    4. Ed, no one would ever be able to point out signs of doping in Serena that you would accept because you watch her matches with your hand on your crotch.

      Delete
    5. I don't go all the way to my crotch. Genetics, remember?

      Delete
  18. USADA annual report..........

    http://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014-annual-report.pdf

    Interesting..... 4800 athletes tested, 2800 in the registered testing pool....

    466 total TUEs applications,
    275 granted,
    42 denied (9%),
    141 returned (permitted medication, incomplete, withdrawn after submission, or not necessary),
    8 pending.

    Applications:
    10% for anabolic agents,
    7% for beta agonists,
    6% for diuretics,
    21% for glucocorticoids,
    6% hormones/metabolic modulators,
    7% narcotics,
    4% Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors (!),
    35% stimulants,
    2% prohibited methods
    2% for permitted medications

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boy there's a lot of sickly athletes. I would love to know which athletes were accepted and denied but that would violate HIPPA.

      Delete
    2. If you consider only the applications that were genuinely reviewed, 1 in 8 were turned down, so potentially bogus. Some of those granted are probably bogus, too, but with more convincing applications (asthma is an easy fudge). This confirms for me that the TUE process is indeed something athletes are trying to exploit.

      I was initially shocked at the "peptide hormone" application number, but I guess insulin might be included there, and there probably are some legitimately diabetic athletes in the USADA testing pool. ........

      I'm struggling, though to think of reasons why so many elite athletes would need anabolic steroids and diuretics for medical reasons.

      The stimulant number is probably dominated by Rxs for AADHD. This seems high, but is not disproportionate when compared to the published prevalence rates in the literature.

      Delete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  22. Just imagine how tough Murray would be if he doped. He would be huge, muscular, serve bombs consistently in the 130-140 mph range, generate easy power from anywhere in the court, run down other players' winners from impossible positions, hit 30-shot power rallies for hours on end, play the fifth set like it was the first. Damn! he would be a lot like Nadal! - used to be. (Or Djokovic, maybe?) Wait a minute ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seppi is a 97-pound weakling getting sand kicked in his face by a Murray hulk. You wouldn't think they are both the same height - 6'3" - as Seppi is so scrawny by comparison. He needs to dope. He would then be huge, muscular, serve bombs consistently in the 130-140 mph range, generate easy power from anywhere in the court, run down other players' winners from impossible positions, hit 30-shot power rallies for hours on end, play the fifth set like it was the first. Damn - he would be a lot like Murray! Wait a minute ...

      Delete
    2. Jesus, that Sam Groth has to be one of the biggest motherf*ckers I have ever seen on a tennis court - 6'4" and about 150kilos! Imagine how big he would be if he doped! He would serve at about 200mph! Actually, he is built a lot like Andy Murray is now (now I think of it). Imagine if Sam Groth had been a 97-pound weakling a few years back - a bit like a younger Murray - and then transformed himself into the hulk he is today. You would have to think he had been doping. Wait a minute...

      Delete
    3. Serena is big these days, isn't she? She kinda reminds me of Andy Murray. Wait a minute...

      Delete
    4. richard has your account been hacked...?

      Delete
    5. I mean what you have written is nonsensical drivel...

      Delete
    6. Seppi had come off a five setter and isn't half the player Murray is. Are you saying Murray beating Seppi in four on centre court at home tournament is suspicious?

      Delete
    7. You are missing the point. Murray is always likely to be have been a better player than Seppi - on skill alone. Of course there may be another reason as to why you say Seppi "isn't half the player Murray is." Seppi is the same height as Murray and the same body type - ectomorph - that Murray was until a few years back. He has none of Murray's present physical capacities. But then neither did a younger Murray match his present version. From his mid-twenties Murray changed his body type to a conspicuous mesomorph - yes, he does resembe Sam Groth in that regard - which bodybuilders typically do with the aid of drugs. Gym work alone can't do it.

      Previously, in a sport like tennis, the bigger heavier player paid for their extra strength with a relative loss of mobility and stamina. Not so now. Murray/Nadal have coupled enormous strength with speed like a cat and the stamina of a Kenyan marathon runner (those established dopers.)

      Ask yourself the question: if Murray isn't doping, how much bigger would he be if he did dope, how much more powerful, how much faster, how much more tireless? It is impossible to imagine. He is certainly up there with a player like Nadal, that most on this site see as the "gold" standard for doping. But if Murray is doping - as I believe he is - then he is simply one of the leaders of a pack that extends pretty much through the upper reaches of this and other professional sport. As this site has shown, the impotence of anti-doping efforts in tennis and most pro sports now means no one can be assured to be clean, and the majority at the top probably aren't.

      Delete
    8. "From his mid-twenties Murray changed his body type to a conspicuous mesomorph" - ???

      Murray's physique was already well developed when he was 21 - watch him against Gasquet at Wimbledon 08 when he flexes his bicep after winning the 5th. Besides, as David Walsh has stated, physique and doping aren't the same thing. The cyclists (and Djokovic for that matter) are practically skeletal. Murray's physique is healthy looking.

      It may be all the top ten are doping but Murray is at bottom of the pile of cheif suspects. As far as I'm concerned, all the usual prime suspects appear on the damning list at the top of this article. And the fact that Murray isn't one of them doesn't surprise me. After all, he called Troicki out for being at best unprofessional in skipping tests. Djokovic isn't on the list and was probably clean back then too, more's the pity.

      Delete
    9. Also I've seen Murray play live on a number of occasions, most recently US Open 14 and his physique is not conspicuous in person. Yes built up, but I would say more like a footballer than a rugby player. Certainly he isn't as ripped as Nadal, nor does he have the stamina of Djokovic so no, I don't get your point.

      Delete
    10. It isn't simply a question of what a player looks like - their physique etc. - athough dramatic changes can certainly be an indicator, but I have followed Murray's career, like a lot of the other top players, and he has acquired extraordinary physical capabilities as he has gotten older. And gotten much bigger. He was always a skilful player but lacked strength and stamina earlier in his career. No longer. He has been like Djokovic in that regard. He now hits as hard as anyone and can certainly sustain the most brutal of rallies deep into a match. I have also followed tennis for over forty years and seen that the most dramatic changes in recent times - this last decade - have not been with equipment but the physicality of the players. There is no good reason for that except doping, as earlier generations of players trained just as hard and as efficiently. Read Laver's book, if you doubt that. If you don't have that memory of the sport then I suspect, that like many today, you have simply become accustomed to observing levels achieved through doping as "normal". They are not. Frankly, if Murray isn't a doper then neither is Nadal or Djokovic - or anyone else for that matter. However if you are a Murray fan, as I think you may be, then nothing I or indeed anyone might say here will persuade you.

      Delete
    11. My tennis memory is only twenty-five years so pls forgive my naivety but I'm pretty sure doping was around in tennis in the 70s and 80s too. It's not something that's just come around in the last decade. But like equipment, diet, training etc, they just got much better at it. Sadly I believe many top players now are doping but I think Murray is more likely a victim of the era rather than a perpetrator - but I'm open to persuasion. It has to be said however that you do cast some pretty ropy accusations around the place from time to time. Murray's physique does not resemble Sam Groth's, and saying he has the stamina of a Kenyan distance runner is absurd. Comparisons with Novak and Nadal are lazy too. He continually fades away in the latter stages against Djokovic, doesn't seem to posses the mental strength, confidence or sustained intensity that either possess . And the strength and stamina you often cite he lacked early in his career was back when was when he was 18-20 and still growing. Since then I would argue his body has developed linerly throughout his twenties, first becoming noticeable when he was twenty-one, still very young in this era.

      Delete
    12. If I make some "ropy" observations, as you put it, it is to draw attention to my main points. Perhaps it has succeeded if you feel compelled to respond.

      Firstly, I suggest you don't take my occasional use of metaphor literally - as, for example, when I liken Murray's fitness to that of Kenyan marathon runners. Of course he is not a marathon runner. However, it is to underscore the point that there are tennis players now - like Murray - who combine extraordinary speed with phenomenal fitness; that is, by the expected standard of a professional tennis player. (I once heard a commentator say, without a trace of irony, that Nadal combines "high twitch fibre" with the tirelessness of a distance runner. Sorry, but the two do not go together.) Those standards have clearly changed in the last decade, even though - as you correctly say - doping has been present in many sports since at least the 70's and 80's. Indeed, it is because I have seen what doping has done in other sports that I believe I can recognise its increased presence in modern-day tennis.

      In previous generations of tennis player you often saw the emerging champions in their late teens. Rosewall, Hoad, Borg, Becker, Wilander, McEnroe, Agassi and Sampras come to mind. Many were grand slam winners before they were twenty. If they got even better it was because they matured as players. There was no "transformation" mid or late-career, as we so frequently see now, in terms of their playing stye or their physical prowess. What you saw at the beginning of their career was the player they pretty much remained throughout. Not so today, when players frequently emerge from a plateau early and mid-career to suddenly reach new and spectacular heights at an age when previous generations were in decline or even retiring.

      The champions of the past were gifted athetes and players. Many, like the top Aussies of the sixties, trained for hours each day, including gym work. Borg regularly played six hours a day in his tournament preparation. Do players today do more than that, and if so, how - without the body breaking down from fatigue and overuse? In the past we would often admire the skills of the top players, but there was little hyperbole given to their ability to run down ball after ball at lightning speed and to do this into fourth and fifth sets. Rallies were not described as "brutal", and other physical aspects of the their games as "unbelievable" - as commentators so incredulously and tiresomely point out today. Indeed, top players have virtually eradicated fatigue as a factor in the outcome of their contests. This has been a significant development in the last ten years. Yet, before then, a long match was a serious test of a player's capacity and fatigue was often a decisive factor in the result. Exhaustion could clearly be seen - as with Sampras's desperate struggle in the last set tie-break of his semifinal in the '96 USO. He required an intravenous drip after the match.

      Now what I am increasingly seeing out there on court are physical "supermen". Commentators and fans drool, and the naive assumption is that somehow these athletes were born this way, or have discovered training methods (no more forehands, backhands, serves and volleys?) and diets that make them different from any generation of player before them and manifestly superior.

      Delete
    13. Sorry for the length. If I may continue. I have followed Andy Murray's career over the years, and I have seen him become one of those players who can wear down most other players physically. (He is the only player who I have seen reduce Ferrer to cramps over three sets. Yet Andy used to be a great cramper.) This is despite the fact that he routinely covers more real estate than his opponents, as he defends from every part of the court. If you have played defensive or retrieving tennis you will know that it is the most tiring stye to maintain. Not so today, as many of the best in the game - Djokovic, Murray, Nadal (until recently) and Ferrer - have shown. No matter how fast the ball is struck with modern rackets and strings these players more often than not can get to it.

      As I have said, Murray has always shown talent as player. But he lacked strength and stamina. From being at a comparative disadvantage in that respect he has from his mid-twenties - late in the development of a tennis player - become one of the most outstanding physical specimens on the tour. In doing so he has transformed himself from a typically ectomorphic 6'3" (look at Robin Haase, who is the same height and body type as Murray, or Goran Ivanisevic - or Seppi again) to a player who is now extremely bulked. (That is by the standards of a tennis player.) His increased size has no doubt added serious power to his game, but in no way slowed him down, and only Djokovic can outlast him in a longer match - which is more to do with a relative mental weakness on Murray's part.

      A few months ago, when Murray was losing matches to Federer love and one, it was speculated if Murray could ever be a slam-contender again. Murray was back on court, so he wasn't carrying an injury, but his form had largely deserted him. That's to be expected after injury. An injury like his mid-career would have once presaged the beginning of the end. A player certainly wouldn't come back better than they were before. But with the Nadal's and Murray's of this world an injury is a mere hiccup in their progress. I say bullshit to that.

      There are many more reasons why I believe Murray is yet another prime doping suspect. I won't exhaust your patience by continuing them in detail. But you haven't addressed my question: if Murray is indeed clean, how would he and his game be different if he doped? What would it look like?

      Delete
    14. Again your being very selective with your memory...

      "Yet Andy used to be a great cramper"

      Hardly. He has cramped three times to my recollection. During Queens in 05, his first ever ATP tournament and then again two weeks later during the third round of wimbledon - his second ever ATP tournament - against Nalbandian. The third time he cramped was during the first round of the 2014 US Open on a very humid day while still finding his way back to form following surgery.

      With respect to the 0&1 against Federer at ATP world final - again you are conveniently forgetting that Murray played 5 tournaments in 6 weeks leading up to that event (winning three titles) in a bid to qualify. He was obviously physically and mentally spent at the event itself and in fact had he done well there, then I would be starting to question his performance. But no, in line with what one would expect from a clean player, he was empty at the big event after a gruelling lead up.

      I'm sure the music was better in your day as well, and I hate to break it to you but at least a few of the players you mention above have serious question marks over drug use. Agassi and McEnroe have even admitted as much, albeit McEnroe said he took steroids in error. And given what we know now about Russian and Eastern European athletes generally, we can perhaps assume that many of there tennis players over the decades have been using as well.

      Delete
    15. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    16. The response of a fan. You argue over minor details and avoid the bigger picture. (By the way, Agassi and McEnroe have never admitted to using performance enhancing drugs.Agassi took crystal meth and McEnroe's 'drugs' were anti-inflammatories.) My question to you remains unanswered. Too difficult to imagine?

      Delete
    17. Oh and in response to your question…

      If Murray were a doper he would probably look as stacked as Nadal, Serena or even Sam Stosur or as emaciated as Djokovic or Lance Armstrong. And his Grandslam and Masters count would probably be more on par with Dokovic and Nadal.

      Some reasons why he has not won more: He has lapses of concentration and self-belief. His serve isn't as constant and he seems to run out of gas against those two in particular as the matches wear on. None of which suggest a doper.

      Delete
    18. So you don't think Murray has become a seriously bulked athlete like a Nadal (certainly compared to his younger self)? Can you really imagine that if he doped he could become even bigger, hit harder - he already has the record for the heaviest-hit forehand on the tour at 124mph - achieve even greater stamina than he already has - no one except Djokovic and maybe Nadal can stay with him - and become even faster than he already is? Doping enables enhancement to all of those. Perhaps he would truly resemble an alien if he doped. Or maybe doping is so common now we see those physical qualities as being within the range of what is to be expected in top athletes.

      (By the way, I don't say that previous generations of players were better. Rather, the reverse, in that their athleticism appears a fraction of what we see in top players today. But that doesn't puzzle you?)

      Delete
    19. You talk like he's built like the incredible hulk. On court right now, he looks wiry to me. Tsonga, Berdych, Monfils, Lopez are all have bulkier physiques and are similar height or taller. You have to get the 18 year old kid out of your mind. There's nothing conspicuous to his build, other than its good. Also, as I said above, I think you should't necessarily conflate doping with physique. Its not the same thing. But I agree there was perhaps a more obvious correlation back in the eighties..

      I'm not puzzled, just felt compelled to pick the holes in your flimsy observations, which is not hard to do.

      Delete
    20. Flimsy observations? You are focusing chiefly on a perception of Murray's build - as though that is the beginning and the end of a case - I am not suggesting Murray is Arnold Schwarzenegger but that he has become very big for a tennis player, which neither tennis drills nor the gym alone will achieve - while ignoring the main factors that suggest doping which relate to physical performance, not appearance. These factors are his greatly increased power, speed and stamina - especially the latter. In that he is also simply one of a growing bunch. Clearly, you have no apparent historical memory for what those qualities were like in top tennis players in the past - certainly before the nineties (and even players like Sampras, Agassi and Lendl don't compare to today's players physically) and so see Murray's athleticism as normal for a top player. Well, you would. You won't countenance he could be doping, because you are a fan. I suppose you bought the line that "married life" is behind his dramatic resurgence in form this year. It's a nice alternative to gluten-free diets, I suppose.

      Delete
    21. I have to agree with Richard on this. I actually used to be a Murray fan until he became this ridiculous player of getting balls from anywhere & everywhere on court with unbelievable speed & stamina & hitting amazing winners from any angle. Sound familiar---like some other players we know. Sure he drops the third set when his focus goes off but once he refocuses watch out! If u really understand the human body & how it works, esp. When playing tennis, then you'll understand that what he's doing out there is not natural. Most people give these athletes a pass for doping b/c they r heroes & can do no wrong. Nobody can convince me @ this point that Murray is playing naturally without some help. Lendl really gave Murray a boost in his growth.

      Delete
    22. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    23. It is possible to determine, in expert opinion terms, whether an athlete is using or not from observation of his body shape, or physiognomy. John McVicar used one such to defend his libel case against Linford Christie whom he had accused of doping and had been sued by Christie. Ironically McVicar lost his case although years later, Christie was eventually exposed. Read section A in the appeal case cited below:-

      http://caselaw.echr.globe24h.com/0/0/united-kingdom/2001/05/10/mcvicar-v-the-united-kingdom-5863-46311-99.shtml

      Delete
    24. Great discussion, guys. It really is an important question how much muscle a top ranked tennis player, particularly a baseliner, can add to his physique in a given amount of time. Nadal took a year off from tennis when he was 17, and came back with significantly increased bulk and strength. Did he do this purely by hitting the gym hard and cutting back on running? Pretty much everyone on this site would agree that steroids were also involved. Now a naturally skinny (ectomorphic) guy like Murray manages to turn his legs into veritable tree trunks while not even taking significant time off from all the running that tennis requires, and he did that without any help from PEDs? Even if you argue that it was done over a period of two to three years, that's still a pretty hard sell.

      Delete
    25. Even as a skinny18 year old kid at Wimbledon 2005 Murray had big, muscular legs, which in fact I remember at the time thinking looked out of proportion with the rest of him. Here's a link with various pictures over the years where you can see how he has grown into himself.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/06/24/andy-murray-wimbledon-years_n_3489185.html

      If Murray starts winning back to back five set matches I'll be persuaded. But as far as I can recall he never has? Nor indeed has he won a masters and gone particularly deep the following week. To the contrary, I can think of many occasions where a gruelling encounter or two has seen him fade away in the next round throughout his career.

      Delete
    26. Fact: Murray has made a career out of being fitter than 99% of the guys on the other side of the net. Along wth Djokovic, Nadal, Ferrer et al, he is the tour premier retriever/counterpuncher. Commentators reiterate that his go-to tactic is to wear his opponents out. I have even seen him do that to the "duracell bunny" Ferrer, causing the Spaniard to collapse on court at the end of a three-set match of sustained brutal rallies. (Yes, that word "brutal" keeps recurring in respect of many of Murray's contests.)

      Fact: Murray has turned himself from a natural ectomorph, lacking strength and stamina compared with many of his opponents, into a mesomorph who is quite possibly now one of the strongest, and most tireless, players on the tour. In recent years, after his defeats, he continued to say that he needs to get "stronger". Well, he certainly has, but how has he been able to dial that in if it was a marked deficiency throughout much of his earlier career? You don't think he was already training hard in the years before? (from when he was about 10?) I recall the Murray who at the 2010 FO was absolutely blown off the court by the Fernando Gonzalez forehand. Murray's lack of power was pathetic. No longer.

      Fact: before the 2012 Wimbledon, Murray had not had any significant results that year, frequently losing early and looking quite unimpressive. Yet in reaching the Wimbledon final in July Hawkeye said he had increased his average groundstroke speed by 10mph throughout the tournament. 10mph! How the hell do you do that? "Oh, yeah - I think I will start hitting a bit harder now". Right. Two weeks later he basically blows Federer off the court at the Olympics. Sure, Federer was drained after an epic match against DelPo but Murray's power was incredible. Where had it been previously? This huge transformation in physical form can easily be explained by a player "cycling".

      Fact: Murray is a far stronger player in his late twenties than in his early and mid-twenties, despite having trained at tennis for most of his life to this point. This continued physical improvement completely goes against the trend of natural athletes in previous generations of professional tennis players. You won't remember that. It is however becoming typical of players today, and especially in the last five years or so.

      Fact: doping has become prevalent in all professional sports and harder and harder to detect in individual competitors. This is admitted by the anti-doping experts, who say that a player would have to be "dumb or careless" to be caught now (Dick Pound, formerly of WADA). It defies credulity that doping is not present at the higher level in tennis, when the rewards for winning are so great (as are the pressures), and the likelihood of being caught is almost nil for an astute player and their team of trainers and doctors. It further defies credulity that the most physical players on the tour are clean, when doping will make more of a difference to that style than any other.

      In hs earlier career I would not have thought that Murray was a candidate for being a doping suspect. Seeing his development in recent years, as an older player, as he has been able to match the most physical players - Nadal, and then Djokovic - in that regard, I can only conclude he has probably gone with the crowd. Forget results. He - and anyone - will lose matches, regardless of whether they have doped. It doesn't ensure the win, day in and day out. But the way Murray and many of these other guys play now is absolutely a red flag. Quotes from Andre Agassi: "I have seen marathon matches before, but never seen players sprint for a marathon." "Even if I could play the way guys do now I don't have the body to be able to do it physically". Thanks, Andre. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it just as likely comes from Dunblane.

      Delete
    27. I don't agree with you re Murray. Murray's inconsistency would not indicate doping to me. He has never gone on "a tear" like Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. As a supporter every match with Murray is nerve wracking. Murray won against Karlovic yesterday by intelligent play. His shots were deliberately chosen to wrong foot the giant as often as possible. Murray used the Giants height and bulk against him.

      Murray won against Federer in the Olympics because Del Potro had taken the edge off of him by the marathon semi final. Murray on the other hand had a quick two setter against Djokovic. Murray was also completely hyped up by the crowd. It is rare to see Murray focus completely throughout a whole tournament, but he was determined to bring home the bacon in that event and he did.

      In the U.S. Open in 2012, Murray had the benefit of a day's extra rest, plus he is a better player in the wind.

      In Wimbledon 2013, the draw opened up for him with Federer and Nadal losing early. Del Potro then put Djokovic through a gruelling 5 setter. Given Murray is a better player on grass than Djokovic it was not an unexpected outcome.

      When Murray has had a tough match you see that in the following match.

      Murray might well be doping, however I think he is the least likely of all the top players.

      Delete
    28. "Fact: Murray has turned himself from a natural ectomorph, lacking strength and stamina compared with many of his opponents."

      This was true for about the first six months of his professional career while he was still going through tail end of puberty.

      "Fact: before the 2012 Wimbledon, Murray had not had any significant results that year, frequently losing early and looking quite unimpressive."

      Again, your selective memory is astounding. He won Brisbane then had that epic 5-setter semi-final against Novak at the Aussie open. In Dubai he beat Novak in semis before loosing to Fed in the final and at the Miami Masters he beat Nadal in the semi's before loosing to Novak in the finals. He also made it to the quarters of the French Open where he lost to Ferrer.

      I agree that he can out last most other players on a one match basis, but it is the rate of recovery that is more telling to me and I can't think of single time when Murray has demonstrated any superhuman prowess in this department. Would be interested if anyone can dig up some examples that suggest otherwise.

      Sadly, when one day it becomes widely accepted that Nadal, Djokovic, Serena, Ferrer, Cillic, Wawrinka? et al were all at it, you can be sure Murray and Fed's reputations - whether clean or not - will be tarnished by association.

      Delete
    29. 1. You are assessing whether a player is doping by their results rather than an observation of how they play. You can dope and lose, as well as not dope and win. But a player- win or lose - who is often tireless in long rallies is a doping suspect. That has to include Murray.

      2. Playing Karlovic is no measure of whether a player dopes. The points rarely exceed 2-3 strokes.

      3. It is immaterial how Federer played at the Olympics. The issue is how was Murray playing. He hit with power he had only hinted at before the Wimbledon final a few weeks earlier (which he lost.) Murray continued that kind of huge ball-striking into the hard-court season that followed (where crushed Federer again at Shanghai.) During that tournament and for the rest of the season I recall him serving frequently in the 225kph range, which is huge serving by anyone's standards and a very big increase for Murray. Compared to pre-Wimbledon, does that constitute a"tear"?

      4. The issue is not whether he wins or loses against the other top guys. He can lose to either a quick-point Federer, or a Djokovic at this grinding best. But what Murray mostly does, day-in and day-out, is play a style of tennis that is as gruelling as anyone on the tour is capable of - Djokovic and Nadal included. Most of his opponents can't stay with him physically. Well, that was the Lance Armstrong formula and it's what many believe Nadal and Djokovic have likewise done.

      5. There is an elephant in the room and it is the question of how any player - not just Murray - can play sustained rallies and matches like a "ground-hog day" version of an Olympic 400m final. Unbelievably, they run it, and then run it again. The adjectives used to describe this are "unbelievable", "brutal", "supermen", and so on, which have only been used in this latest generation of player. I am old enough to observe that this is largely a modern phenomenon in tennis. Sadly. But I have seen before in other sports.

      6. Murray is (now) a powerfully muscled athlete. What would he look like if he doped? Murray can serve in the high 220's kph. How big could he serve if he doped? Murray has hit the hardest forehand on the tour - at over 200k. How big could he hit if he doped? Murray can play rallies against opponents like Djokovic that exceed 50 shots - and then step back to the line, serve and play another - as he did at the 2013 USO final. How many shots could he play without tiring if he was doped? Murray can sprint to retrieve any ball his opponent hits for as long as the match will take (even if he does clutch his back). Could he run any faster - and for longer - if he doped? In these respects is he really any different from a player like a Nadal, or a Djokovic - accent aside - who can do many of the same things? As far as I am concerned the evidence is staring us in the face whenever these guys take to the court.

      7. The hardest things for a fan is to see that his hero is quite possibly a doping cheat. You won't see what you don't want to believe.

      Delete
    30. My reply above was to Cynic. To Northwestcircus, recovery, as such, is not only relevant from match to match but within a match - from point to point and game to game, etc. Murray is undoubtedly one of the best there, or he couldn't win with that style.

      I agree he has certainly left "puberty" a long way behind.

      I also agree that if the doping issue is ever fully revealed in tennis it will tarnish everyone - the whole sport is affected, one way or another.

      Delete
    31. richard you have a real condescending way about you in that you love to imply that anyone who counters your arguments is a starry-eyed fanboy. Of course no player is above suspicion. I like Murray and Fed and hope they are both clean but have to accept that because they have been able to compete with dopers, there will always be question marks hanging over them and I will always have a nagging doubt.

      You put way too much stock in the changing physicality of players between eras. There are numerous reasons why every generation is bigger and stronger than the previous and its true all round the developed world in all walks of life, and especially in sport.

      Anecdotal yes, but I played rugby to a decent level at High School and beyond and, we certainly took our training seriously. I stopped playing 1999. When I go down to the Rugby club now, I cannot believe the size of the 16/17 year old kids now. I was one of the bigger, faster players just 15 years ago, and I would simply now be too small to compete with these guys today.

      The Murray stamina issues you so often cite lasted for all of two tournaments - the first two her ever played on the the main tour. To my recollection - other than returning from injury - he never had an issue in the department subsequently and unlike Djokovic never retired from a match, except once with a wrist injury that put him out for most the 07 season.

      Indeed, he established himself as one of the fittest and strongest on tour by 21/22 so I have no idea why you insist he started to get stronger in his mid-late twenties. Regardless, the average age of the top 100 in late twenties and all players should keep getting stronger and fitter until the peak around late twenties. And then its all downhill from there.

      You keep asking what Murray would look/play like if he doped: Simple, he would probably have won back-to-back north american masters events, then gone on to win the US open. And then throw in the WTF a little later for good measure - but no, Murray has never done particularly well there because the tank is empty.

      Delete
    32. @Northwestrcircus

      But you are a Murray fan - whether or not you accept or reject the label "starry-eyed fanboy" (which I didn't use). Consequently, you are seeking to defend Murray against being labelled a likely doper. Your arguments are therefore partial to that view. I argue Murray is a doper, because from the kind of criteria I would use to make that assessment he pretty much appears to qualify. To me, it has nothing to do with whether I am a fan or might like the player. (I have to admit - I like some of the dopers. Djokovic and Murray are undoubtedly highly-skilled and can be funny guys. No matter.)

      You say that I place too much emhasis on the "physicality" of players, and how it has changed over time. Sorry, but isn't that exactly what doping is about - improving physical performance - but unnaturally? I am not talking primarily about what players might look like - although that can be an indicator - but how they are abe to perform physically. You can be built massively and dope - like Ben Johnson - or you can be as wiry as whippet and dope - like Lance Armstrong. You can't rule out Murray being a doper because you think he has merely passed through "puberty", or because you think his physique is no bigger than the average rugby player (which is bloody big for a tennis player!).

      The changing physicality of athletes in recent times is not so much a matter of appearance but capacity. I feel have to belabour the point because you keep ducking it, presenting a strawman argument whereby I appear to claim that a build like Schwarzenegger's establishes doping. I am not saying that. Significant changes in physique from an athlete's natural body type are just that - significant - especially if they occur in a relatively short space of time. Even more significant are changes in physical performance: strength, speed and stamina - especially if these are stand-out by anyone's standards. Here Murray undoubtedly comes to the front. If it were not so he could not routinely win with his style of game.

      Delete
    33. @Northwestcircus

      There is a question begged by your assumption that improvements in athletic performance from one generation to the next are inevitable and natural. Are they? Some improvements will occur as a result of changes in training methods and nutrition, perhaps, but these may not result in such dramatic improvements as doping will produce. An example is women's track, where most of the current world records were set thirty years ago, and modern athletes can't get near them. We know those records were almost inevitably the result of systematic doping.

      Yet we see that many modern tennis players are considerably physically superior - bigger, faster, stronger and fitter - than players of even only ten or or years ago. If you want confirmation of that, look at a re-run of the 2004 FO final. It looks quaint by today's expectations. But here's the thing - no one is able to say what is so different about modern-day training methods that makes such a difference. I have talked with pro's and their training is still largely what Harry Hopman would have made Laver, Rosewall, Emerson and Roche do. Do you know that Laver went regularly to the gym, and so did Hoad - who did his back in as a result? Yet pro's today tell me they also do little gym work - it's mainly confined to the few weeks from the WTF till the New Year. So if modern-day pro's are doing on-court drills, running, and a bit of gym work, just like their predecessors did, how come so many of them are so much better athetes than players were thirty or so years ago? Nothing inevitable about that, because as I said about women's track, we see the reverse can apply.

      Your answer to the question about what Murray's game would be like if he doped is based around results. You say he would have won more. (Yes, and we also see that "Mr Clean" Nadal never has anything for the WTF, either.) Maybe Murray would have won a lot more, but that isn't the best assessment for likely doping, otherwise every successful sportsmen in history is a likely doper simply because they won a lot. Of course, that would incriminate Laver, Borg, Conners, Lendl, Sampras - and Federer - straight off the bat. With respect, you are looking at the picture the wrong way. Doping is in the details, not the subject or the big picture. That's why it can be harder to see.

      Delete
    34. Murray's thighs are freakish looking, you can catch a glimpse sometimes during matches... I wouldn't be surprised if they were close to the infamous Tipsarevic thighs of a few yeasrs back. I was always on the fence about Murray, but the stamina, ridiculous rage/anger issues during matches and freakish thighs have me think he is indeed doping.

      Delete
    35. Just to throw another name into the mix - and he is a totally different body type from Murray - is the Frenchman Gilles Simon. You are right - no thighs, at all. But he is a running backboard. I have seen him absolutely stay in the long rallies with Nadal on clay, as well as play 71-shot rallies against Monfils - and then just play on as though nothing had happened. He is virtually emaciated, so there is little power in his game, but his stamina is right up there with all the usual suspects in that regard - which suits his counterpunching game. He is doing well this grasscourt season and at Wimbledon. Give him a bike and I think he would do well in the Tour de France. Watch this space.

      Delete
    36. "I also agree that if the doping issue is ever fully revealed in tennis it will tarnish everyone"

      Why? Baseball had a huge PED scandal, and it didn't tarnish "everyone." Has it tarnished Derek Jeter or Ken Griffey Jr. or Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine. Maddux made the Hall of Fame on the first ballot with 97.2 percent of the vote. Glavine also first ballot with 91.9 percent. Griffey will also be way up there when he's inducted, I imagine. Jeter could be close to Maddux.

      Delete
    37. Baseball fans may not care much about doping. But tennis fans sure do - judging from how strenuously they defend their favourites.

      Delete
    38. Baseball fans care a lot about doping. Go to any article about Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun and the invective is palpable. A lot of people also suspect Albert Pujols, even though he wasn't mentioned in the Mitchell report and his numbers, in my view, aren't nearly as suspicious as lot of other players. But the players I mentioned in my previous post are like Federer. They're all revered as squeaky clean players in a very seedy era.

      Delete
    39. (Beware, rambling post ahead ;-)
      Couldn't agree more with David McPherson. I'm a huge MLBaseball fan - in fact, I prefer it to tennis, which are the only two sports I follow closely. I am disgusted by guys like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Brady Anderson, Brian Giles, Jason Giambi, Bret Boone, Ken Caminiti, Jeff Bagwell... The list goes on and on. BUT, guys like Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., to name just a few, I greatly admire. Baseball had the guts to clean up its act and it did it masterfully. Unlike any other major sport, it hunted down with clinical focus the potential dopers. The game is in even better shape now than it was at the height of the doping era (mid 90s to late 00s). But the ATP is afraid of sacrificing cash cows, so it turns a blind eye. Just a quick thought: during the infamous baseball steroid era in baseball, veteran players (30s and over) were dominating the game. Look now: the game's stars are all in their 20s, often times their EARLY 20s - as it should be. On the other hand, tennis is dominated by older, richer players. Historically, the sport was dominated by yound adults and teens, but not anymore. It's not so much that the young generation of tennis players is weaker than before, rather it's the rich veteran tennis players keeping a stranglehold on the game thanks to unlimited resources, the best doctors and the best medicines... Of course, there are always exceptions (Hank Aaron in baseball, Jimmy Connors and (I think) Federer in tennis), but those shouldn't be the norm like it is today.

      Delete
    40. Interesting post, Picasso. As far as Federer, I look at it this way. If the truth were going to be revealed tomorrow, and I had to bet my house on whether he dopes or not, I would say he hasn't and doesn't and sleep easy tonight. Maybe I'm naive but I truly believe that.

      Delete
    41. I agree, though I wouldn't be THAT surprised were I to learn that he has used EPO or stuff like that for better cardio. If that were the case though, I would be extremely disappointed and feel terrible as a fan of his. Same goes for my favorite baseball players, i.e. Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw, Jim Edmonds, Edgar Martinez, etc.

      Delete
  23. This week's finest example of missing the true point:

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/jul/05/spanish-tennis-sexism-scandal-skulduggery-nadal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The article obviously went to print before the announcement that Conchita Martinez has been announced as Gala León's replacement, which makes it seem even weaker.......

      Delete
    2. I agree with your assessment of the article, though the comments are interesting to skim through. There are many allusions to players being in "the Nike stable", getting "a little help from his friends", and even "What's Dr. Fuentes up to these days?", but no one has actually come out and mentioned PEDs by name (yet). It's somewhat encouraging to see this train of thought, even very diluted, appear somewhere else than on THASP.

      Delete
    3. The whole notion brought up in the article that the troubles of the Spanish Federation and Davis Cup were the reason(s) Nadal lost at Wimbledon this year are laughable at best and insulting at worst. Anything to avoid talking about the real reasons Nadal is on such a steep decline, eh?

      I was very happy to see many people in the comments section mention Dr, Fuentes and doping in general. The journalists can play dumb all they want (and the probably have to so they don't get sued) but a growing number of people know the real deal and what is truly going on.

      Delete
    4. The Guardian can be very quick to censor comments on PEDs and regular posters on there will be aware of that, hence the obtuse, coded references.

      Delete
    5. @Peter Gilson:

      Ah, that's good to know. I was wondering a little about the roundabout way commentators were struggling to mention doping without actually using the words PEDs, etc.

      Delete
    6. It really is a shockingly poor article. It misses the real significance of its own headline (scandal and skulduggery) by a country mile. The writer is no tennis journalist though, just another lazy generalist who toes the party line.

      Delete
  24. Could any of the regulars here have a look at my first comment above relating to the 2008 version of this document? I'm really curious about it - maybe there's a simple explanation?

    ReplyDelete