Thursday, October 1, 2015

Michael Mewshaw

Definitely worth a listen:

51 comments:

  1. These are 2 opinion pieces debating the effectiveness of USADA. I thought they were interesting to read, since USADA's had mixed reviews here.

    Pro:
    http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28911881/guest-copmmentary-defense-u-s-anti-doping-agency

    Con:
    http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28836839/us-antidoping-agency-is-falling-down-on-the-job

    The author of the con-piece focuses on conflicts of interest. The criticism is based mainly around USADAs contracting with non-Olympic sports (i.e. boxing), and the controversy surrounding the Mayweather fight (leaning on the Houser piece for SB Nation, whose content USADA have disputed). The pro-piece makes contrary point that however conflicted USADA may be, they'll never be anywhere near as conflicted as the sports federations, which is a fair point.

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    1. Looking into USADA, came across this info... A breakdown of TUEs applied for. Given that 75% of the TUEs are granted or returned as unnecessary, it basically outlines the TUEs in use (these totals are for "national" level athletes:
      SUBSTANCE TUE APPLICIATIONS
      Anabolic Agents 38
      Beta Blockers 3
      Beta-2 Agonists 26
      Cannabinoids 0
      Diuretics and other Masking Agents 25
      Glucocorticoids 77
      Hormone and Metabolic Modulators 18
      Narcotics 25
      Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, 15
      Permitted Medications 5
      Prohibited Methods 2
      Stimulants 126
      TOTALS 360

      As a note, this is TUEs received in the year. Active TUEs from prior years would also be active.

      We do know that a total of 211 of those applications were granted and only 35 denied -- the others are pending or returned because they were not necessary.

      For the International Athletes, 106 TUE applications were received -- largely with the same distribution as above and 64 were granted. Given that there are far fewer "International" level athletes, one must wonder why the higher you go in sport, the sicker you get.

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




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    2. Why have a anti doping program when permission is given to use of the likes of Anabolic Agents? I thought one of reasons for banned substances outside the physical danger they pose is that substances such as narcotics are illegal?

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    3. @Mtracy

      I read that report previously. I was going to comment on it, but I just didn't know what to say, since the data were so opaque...

      They document 'application rates' for TUEs, based loosely on drug class, but don't clarify what % were granted for specific reasons/classes/sports......

      We have no idea if the % of approved TUEs realistically reflect actual prevalence rates of associated medical conditions in similar populations.

      Anti-doping needs far more transparency.

      At least USADA published something, though. The ITF are utterly silent on this matter.


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    4. While they could certainly publish some more detailed info you mention, I think it is telling because it shows that TUEs are rampant.

      USADA tells us that for the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) program, they have blood samples from 1610 athletes. But we know that at least 275 of these have TUEs. When 1/8 of your athletes are doping (legally), you can't call your sport "clean."

      Also, these TUEs do not appear to be for "simple" items. We don't need to know the exact anabolic agent being administered to know it is a problem that 45 people applied for the TUE and likely 75% of those were granted.

      In addition, the "Peptide, Hormones, Growth Factors, etc" pretty much means EPO. HGH is not a permitted drug in the United States outside clinical trials. As a TUE could not be granted for a clinical trial, there are not going to be TUEs for HGH. That pretty much leave EPO and HCG under that category.

      In addition, looking at the results, there were 74 positive tests, but 37 (exactly 50%) were dismissed because of a TUE. Again, you can't say your sport is "clean" when 1/2 of the positive tests are thrown out because of a TUE.

      USADA tries to convince athletes that there is no need to dope -- but these numbers prove otherwise. If you didn't need to dope, then why are so many people legally permitted to dope? It is a joke to say USADA advocates "clean" sport -- USADA advocates a complex system that favors top athletes who can afford to get doctors notes to take anabolic steroids and EPO.

      The author of the pro-USADA piece says USADAs " sole mission is to protect the integrity of clean competition and the rights of clean athletes." How can you protect clean athletes, when you allow 275 people to dope? How can you call someone who dopes a "clean" athlete.

      Instead, it would be correct to say, "USADA's mission is to administer a medical review board that allows athletes to take known performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids and EPO so that they can compete on the same playing field with others who are not permitted to take these same drugs. To this end, USADA provides a wide variety of information to athletes and medical professionals as to how to apply to the medical review board and what test results they need to provide so that they can take performance enhancing drugs. USADAs position is that taking performance enhancing drugs makes the sport fair because it puts everyone on the same level."

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    5. Well said. I think it's so interesting that no one needs Cannabinoids, which have a medical purpose but not a performance enhancing purpose (that I can think of). It's the drugs that have a proven performance or masking benefit that seem to be the ones most requested.

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    6. Good points M Tracey, i think we know why Tennis is a clean sport..according to the guidelines on the definition of a clean sport it is. And maybe the reason why all the playacting for the camera's, faking illnesses/medical conditions and bogus medical diagnosis is to justify their TUE.

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    7. I'm certain there are athletes abusing TUEs. I'm equally sure that not all TUEs are tantamount to doping. There are relatively common medical conditions, consistent with elite level athletic performance, where prohibited drugs are required for adequate treatment.

      The prevalence of asthma is ~7% in young US adults. Inhaled bronchodilating beta-agonist / glucocorticosteroids are permitted, but oral glucocorticosteroids (often required for therapy) require a TUE. I know athletes can successfully fabricate a diagnosis of asthma (see: Salazar), but legitimately asthmatic athletes also exist. USADA tested ~3200 athletes in 2014. If half of the expected asthmatic subjects requested TUEs for oral glucocorticosteroids, that would equate >100 applications. There were 77 TUE requests for glucocorticosteroids in total. Question is how many mild to moderate asthmatics would feel the need for an "in advance" TUEs for oral steroids. Not much data to resolve that. Courses of glucocorticosteroids can also be required for other legitimate conditions. On balance, this one doesn't worry me as much as some of the others.

      In the target population, diabetes mellitus would also require a TUE for insulin. The prevalence rate for insulin dependent DM is about ~1.5-2/1000 in the age-group of interest. Again, USADA tested about 3200 athletes in 2014. Insulin comes under the 'Hormone and Metabolic Modulator' section of WADA's prohibited list. In this context, 18 TUE applications does seems excessive to me. I'm struggling to think of legitimate reasons for athletes to request other agents in this class.

      Other legitimate TUE indications might include pain requiring narcotics (IC), and there were 77 applications for this class in the USADA report. Narcotics might allow you to play through pain, but I wouldn't rate their performance enhancing characteristics highly.

      Mtracy, HGH has been approved for use in the US for clinical use for decades. The indication is growth hormone deficiency. Most typically, this occurs when the pituitary gland has to be removed surgically (due to presence of benign tumours - adenomas- which develop and that site and cause problems if left in-situ). There are other reasons, but I think these would be rare in elite athletes. I hope it would be virtually impossible to fake the medical supporting evidence for a TUE for those, though.

      I think it would be equally impossible to fake a TUE for EPO in elite levels of sports that are very physical. The medical indication is end stage kidney failure where the kidneys don't produce the peptide.

      For me the most notable aspect of the USADA data is the number of athletes who requested TUEs for peptides/growth factors and anabolic steroids (some of which must have been granted, based on the numbers). I wish USADA had clarify this. I heard Jeff Novitsky state in an interview that the bar is set so high for testosterone TUEs that they would virtually never be approved, but I wonder if that is indeed that case.

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  2. Serena Williams is apparently suffering from "bone edema." Any idea what that is?

    http://www.tennisnow.com/Blogs/NET-POSTS/October-2015/Serena-Needs-Total-Rest-Says-Coach-Mouratoglou.aspx

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    1. " “It’s no secret I’ve played injured most of the year — whether it was my elbow, my knee or, in the final moments after a certain match in Flushing, my heart.""

      Yet she managed to end the season winning 3 slams and finishing with a record record of 53 - 3. That's 3(!) loses.

      Imagine if she was 100% healthy she would have gone undefeated and handed out golden sets in every match.

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    2. No idea, looking it up it seems its fluid retention around the joints, since Serena has cited elbow trouble it could be there. but i guess its another one to act to the long list of ailments that have not only seen her as one of the most successful female Tennis players but seemingly getting better with age. If she wins all four slams and a gold medal with all these medical problems (including reduced lung capacity) coming up to her 36th year all i can say is wow.

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    3. Serena may be done and it has nothing to do with bone edema which is a fancy term for water on the knee.Her priorities have changed because of the company she is now keeping which cost her the CYGS.She is partying like the world is ending tomorrow which she did the night before the semifinal.Patrick knew she was done that morning,hung over from being with Drake.She has divorced herself from Tennis and is as out of shape now since 2007 when she was ranked 87th in the AO.She had no wraps on her knee or elbow in New York.She cannot look herself in the mirror and admit responsibility for her her failure in NY.She should get a 60 day jail sentence for losing to Vinci and I am starting to believe all these retirements are HGH related.

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  3. Hãy cùng Ca do bong da - Ca cuoc bong da cháy mình với những trận cầu đỉnh cao của tất cả các giải bóng đá hot nhất trên thế giới và mang phần thưởng không tưởng về nhà.
    Ưu đãi lớn dành cho người chơi khi tham gia Ca do bong da - Ca cuoc bong da .
    ………..Hot - Hot - Hot………….
    Tham gia ngay thôi !

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  4. So WTA have appointed Indian wells exec Simon Steves as it's commander and chief . One thing jumps out at me. Serena Williams who boycotted his event for practically his whole tenure and is nothing but complimentary about him - i get the feeling this was not always the case considering they've been trying everything to get the william's sisters back including fines? An interesting turn of events.... http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/05/us-tennis-wta-ceo-idUSKCN0RZ29W20151005

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  5. Madsion Key's retirement at the China open has been the seventh in the competition so far. ....Sharapova still hasn't turned up, Konta who suddenly found form in the HC late in the season and a new top fifty position decides not to play? what is going on out there, are the players fatigued because it's the end of the season or are the Chinese stepping up doping tests?

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    1. Disgusting pollution in Beijing this year, a lot of players have spoken about it .... one said he threw up after the match. Wouldn't be surprised if some of them just quit to get out of town - can't imagine it's doing much good for their lungs.

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    2. Oh my god the stadium pictures in the evening looks like a dense fog covering....that's pollution! God help the planet.

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  7. Breaking news!!

    In reference to your past article:

    http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.it/2013/11/nuria-llagostera-vives.html

    Here is a very interesting update!

    A couple of years ago, among the general indifference, Nuria Llagostera Vives was disqualified for two years for doping. They found she had used a stimulant during the tournament in Stanford and they gave her the maximum sentence. She tried to defend herself, then she announced the withdrawal. A month ago the penalty has expired, but the Spaniard has no intention of returning. "I will not waste time or money in this effort because I have no ranking and even the desire. I do not think it is appropriate to beg a wild card into ITF tournaments. My career is over with disqualification - he said in an interview with "Marca" - Of course, it is not nice to know that someone can be remembered as a tennis player on steroids, but the people I care about know how things went. I told my truth but nobody believed me: the amount that they found in my body was so low that it was impossible to think that I wanted to cheat. It was bad, because there are people who take everything. " Among other things he had already stopped playing singles and devoted himself only twice. Nuria now can resume exercising and does not exclude to be back in court in the role of coach. "But now I can devote myself to paddle, I have been already told to try some qualifications for some tournament."

    Source: http://www.tennisbest.com/news-link/12814-nuria-llagostera-vives-potrebbe-dedicarsi-al-paddle

    ( the translation from Italian into English is mine, I'm not a professional interpreter but the translation should be quite correct! )

    To note carefully this part of the interview:

    "It was bad, because there are people who take everything."

    No further comment is necessary!!!!!

    Best regards.

    Fabrice.

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    1. Full interview in Spanish: "Es una pena porque luego hay gente que se mete de todo..."

      http://www.marca.com/2015/10/08/tenis/1444296248.html

      Of course, the journalist doesn't seem to care about "people who take everything..."

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    2. He's slowly returning to his old ways:

      http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2015/10/rafael-nadal-plans-play-shanghai-despite-foot-injury/56566/#.Vhvs6LzsbYs

      The injured bull is returning.

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    3. I don't read Italian so i'll have to comment on the interpretation rather than the article.
      With her credibility totally shot what other way to gain notoriety than through a young player you can coach and mold in your ways. ITF are going to be complicit in letting the likes of her peddle and perpetuate the culture of drugs and cheating to another generation of tennis players, disgusting. Going by the "the amount was so little" comment she has no remorse for her actions and is at a high risk of corrupting any tennis player.

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    4. You might read Spanish, here is the original interview in Spanish:

      "Es una pena porque luego hay gente que se mete de todo......"

      http://www.marca.com/2015/10/08/tenis/1444296248.html

      And as "VWtype2van" has already pointed out:

      Of course, the journalist doesn't seem to care about "people who take everything..."


      Best regards.

      Fabrice

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  8. Tennis continues to dominate alerts reported to sports betting integrity organization.. 72% of all reports!!

    http://www.sportsintegrityinitiative.com/tennis-continues-to-dominate-alerts-reported-to-essa/

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  9. The Beijing tournament and final was another gob-smacking display of supreme athleticism by a frankly ageing world no.1. Djokovic's rise to the position of being the greatest athlete the sport has ever seen so late in his career is unprecedented. To accept it as a natural development is to anticipate that a better young player of today - like a Borna Coric - will suddenly do the same at an equivalent stage of his career. In previous generations the athlete of nearly 30 years of age was already present at 20. Not so today. Be afraid, be very afraid...

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  10. So Nadal says he is now getting over his "mental injury". I guess it's the only part of his body for which he hasn't so far required a TUE. Always a first. I expect he is going to the same doctor who gave Djokovic his "confidence".

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  11. I am having trouble detecting the evidence of ageing, slowing or injury in the present Nadal. If he is no longer as dominant as he was (and bearing in mind this has always been the weaker part of his year) it is because the field have found a way to catch him up and not because he is "finished", as so many have claimed. It will take an exceptional performance to stop him in Shanghai - as it did in Beijing. Never count a doper out.

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  12. I love tennis. I enjoy watching matches and I love to play. But something snapped in me this week. Maybe it's the "unexpected" comebacks of Venus and Rafa; or the tournament winning performance of Kvitova while suffering from mono, or the talk of Djokovic's calendar slam next year (which seems perfectly reasonable), but I think I am done watching the tour. It seems like some line of shamelessness has been crossed.

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    2. By saying Djokovic's slam is reasonable, I mean likely. I find the distance between him and the rest of the field frightening.

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  13. Brutal brutal rallies from Djokovic and Murray in their Shanghai semi-final. Neither player slows, gasps for air or in any way perceptibly tires after each monumental baseline exchange. The final scoreline says a drubbing for Murray but that is deceptive: he loses because he plays a similar counterpunching game to Djokovic but the Serb is just that much better in every department. Murray has no answer - again. It is tennis that was inconceivable ten years ago. Wait a minute - they were both playing on the tour ten years ago. Who would have thought then their talents would have taken on such physically outlandish dimensions later - much later - in their respective careers? Djokovic, in particular, has clearly entered a new tennis universe. Gluten-free.

    As for Nadal - after his recent "revival" he loses again. This time, to an ebullient (and unusually focussed) Tsonga. Nadal plays much as he always has, but his endless running and ridiculous defense ultimately doesn't cut it against a power-player able to attack the net. Poor Rafa - it seems his "mental injury" has resurfaced. He will need to apply for a TUE to help repair his damaged psyche.

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  14. 10 years ago both were starting out. At that stage Murray was thought to be a better player than Djokovic. Today Murray was thrashed 6:1, 6:3. Given that they both can afford the very best in terms of additional "help", why is Djokovic so much better than Murray. Yes Murray is very fit, but nobody refers to him as "superman". I appreciate that all the players in the top 10 are under suspicion, but some are far more suspicious to me than others. I have absolutely no doubt that Djokovic is a doper. I still don't think Murray is. You can explain Murray's ability without recourse to a doping scenario. I don't think you can Djokovic.

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    1. "I still don't think Murray is"

      - Murray is very suspicious, clearly he doesn't have the same amount of red flags as say Djokovic, Nadal or Serena Williams, but still suspicious none the less.

      "Given that they both can afford the very best in terms of additional "help", why is Djokovic so much better than Murray?"

      - Different drugs, Djokovic has clearly gone for the lean but strong type. His physique now a days is very similar to cyclists (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MRvw1vSivM)
      - Also Djokovic could also be a hyper responder, unlike Murray.

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  15. Doping will undoubtedly make a player better I.e. faster, stronger, fitter - and more confident - but it doesn't make all dopers equal. Djokovic is better than Nadal, as he is Murray. The Scotsman can match Djokovic (and Nadal) in all physical departments of the game - chiefly speed, strength and stamina. But the Serb clearly has the edge as a player. This doesn't rule out Murray being a doper. If he isn't doping then tennis is essentially a clean sport with its dopers largely confined to the nonentities who are periodically thrown under the testing bus. I think not. If the top players aren't doping then tennis doesn't have a steroid problem.

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    1. "The Scotsman can match Djokovic (and Nadal) in all physical departments of the game - chiefly speed, strength and stamina"

      Indeed, and they all have Reyes' stamp of approval. From 2013:

      Reyes:
      “Just look at Andy Murray when he won Wimbledon this year,” he said. “This past year, he’s really been looking kind of strong compared to years prior. He hasn’t necessarily become bigger and bulkier, but he’s just really lean and muscular and a powerful athlete. Djokovic, Murray and Nadal are very muscular men, and if you don’t think so I encourage you to watch the 2012 Australian Open final.”

      Djokovic beat Nadal over six hours that day, and Reyes was fascinated by Djokovic’s reaction afterward, when he walked towards his box, ripped off his shirt and let out a primal roar.

      “That’s the first thing he thought to do after one of the most physical, certainly the most sensational tennis match I’ve ever seen,” Reyes said. “That is him sending out a message, I’m here and I’m ready. You have to deal with me. I’ve worked for it, I just played one of the most amazing matches in history and I’m good to go. That was him asserting his physicality.”

      http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/14/physiological-cost-is-part-of-tenniss-evolution-reyes-says/

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  16. The point is that prior to 2011, the argument would have been that Murray was the better player of the two. Djokovic's meteoric rise (explained by him going gluten free), wasn't followed by an similar meteoric rise by Murray. I am not say that Murray is definitely clean, anymore than I can say that Djokovic is definitely a doper. As far as we know there is no evidence to support either. Ditto Nadal. I still however think that Murray is less suspicious than Djokovic.

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    1. They are both dopers with a mountain of circumstantial evidence against them.

      Djokovic IS a better tennis player than Murray (who just lopes around at the baseline waiting for an error by his opponent). Djokovic has some offence to his game (even before 2011).

      I believe that Djokovic won his first GS (relatively?) drug-free. Djokovic has certainly been using something to boost his stamina since 2011.

      I put Djokovic at 90% likely, Murray 95% likely, and Nadal 99% likely.

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    2. True what GoldenAge says that Murray gets thrashed by Djoker b/c of the level of offense played by Djoker vs. defensively just hitting shots back until opponent makes the error by Murray. When Djoker used to play more defensively against Murray they used to have marathon slugfests, but maybe b/c Federer has taken offense to a new level, Djoker has followed & been even more successful than his 2011 year in thrashing Nadal & Murray without having to expend so much energy in marathon matches.
      IMO, the whole sport is dirty. True some players may dope all season while others dope parts of the season while others dope only during specific tourneys, but the fact that no one is blowing the whistle on anyone indicates that pretty much most pro tennis players are doping with omertà protecting them. Otherwise, if I were a top player & knew that my opponent is clearly doping while I'm clean, I would be pissed & call him out on it behind the scenes. Clearly, That is not happening. Murray may not be able to beat Djoker or Fed much this year, but he's clearly beating most other players & comes back from a set down getting better as the matches progress. u can't discount that. Djoker right now has his dope adjusted so well to meet his needs while playing the game he wants to, that no one can touch him, but that doesn't mean he's it that's doping. He's just the most successful. The question I have is why does he still have all his hair while most of the other top players r losing it, namely Nadal??

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    3. Murray is showing signs of male-pattern baldness. He'll be Bruce Willis in a few years. No wonder he swears a lot.

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    4. P.S. Lance Armstrong kept his hair.

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    5. @ GoldenAgeOFDrugs - sorry but to suggest that Djokovic is a less likely doper than Murray is just a joke, even allowing for the fact that the whole of professional is as much as a joke as cycling was during the Lance Armstrong years.

      In 2012 when one might reasonably assume the drug testing was more rigorous because of the Olympics. Wimbledon and the Olympic Final were contested by the same two players Murray and Federer. Nadal didn't attend either. The superhuman Djokovic faltered in the semi's of both events, and then fell to Murray in the US Open a month later. I would say that Djokovic doping is as near certainly as anything. Nadal doping - was but don't think he is now, or if he is it has been scaled back. Murray there are still doubts in my eyes - naive as that probably is. Federer I also doubted, but his performance this year has led to more doubts creeping in.

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    6. Cynic, reacting like that for a 5% difference is quite... Weird. Chill, bro.

      I do agree that Murray is more likely a heavy weight doper than Djokovic, nevertheless, I'm more cynical and think many more players are doping in the top 100 than just the doped 4.

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    7. @ Unknown. It's not about the fact the difference is 5%. It's about the fact that my view is that, in the balance of probabilities the suggestion that Murray is a more likely doper than Djokovic, simply doesn't make sense. There is only one player constantly referred to as "super human", and it's not Murray.

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    8. It's kind of a spurious argument. It's like arguing "who is the least virginal" when they both probably lost that, as far as doping is concerned, some time ago.

      Murray may not be as good as Djokovic but he plays a game that is at least as dependent on speed, stamina and strength - all of which he has developed massively from his earlier career. That makes him little different - if at all - from Djokovic.

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  17. Olympic leaders agree on independent drug-testing system

    In a shake-up of the drug-testing system in sports, Olympic leaders agreed Saturday that testing should be independent of sports organizations and urged the World Anti-Doping Agency to take over the responsibility on a global level.

    [...]

    http://news.yahoo.com/olympic-leaders-agree-independent-drug-testing-system-170734166.html

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    1. This would be a big step in the right direction, obviously.

      The issue would be the financial model. Ideally, the funding would be independent of the sports themselves, but I can't see how that would be achieved unless governments stepped in.

      If the sports are paying for services, then either they would bill the wealthy sports more or bill a flat-fee per athlete. In the former case, there might be a perception that those contributing more would have leverage to get the testing done the way they want (we saw that when WADA were questioned about the Mayweather case). In the latter case, the resources at WADAs disposal would probably be limited by how much the poorer sports could afford.

      Regardless, it would be a major improvement on the current situation.

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  18. Djokovic's game right now is chillingly good and defies belief. On one hand, you have to give him credit for refining his tennis tools, and developing an all round better game. On the other hand, you have to question how far he would have gotten without the obvious help he has. The body simply cannot take the pounding that tennis causes, day in day out.

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    1. In Djokovic's case, apparently it can.

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  19. No one has dominated tennis like he has at the age of 28, with ranking points dwarfing everyone else's and winning multiple slams. Next year he probably won't win the calendar slam but he most likely ends up with 3 slams unless the powers that be tell him to take a dive.

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  20. "Professional tennis is a nomadic tribe and press is part of that nomadic tribe. Like a lot of nomadic tribes it has its own morals and mores and as long as those aren’t violated everything is ok, but the laws and mores of the rest of society don’t really penetrate this nomadic tribe." MM
    I loved that part. When tennis dies, that should be written on its tombstone.

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