Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Silent Bans"/Provisional Suspensions: No More?

So, the ITF now has got religion on transparency:
“I think we want to become as transparent as possible,” Dave Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation, told the Daily Telegraph yesterday. “And that could mean making provisional suspensions known at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an announcement after Wimbledon, because I think there are ways we can take away mystery and supposition and make it more clear what may or may not be going on.”
For the record, this blog was raising the problems associated with the ITF's non-disclosure policy as early as 2012, if not earlier.

260 comments:

  1. Would be great if they would also, in the spirit of transparency, release names of all those who received a "silent" provisional suspension in the past.

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    1. That certainly won't happen.

      It would entail publicizing situations where athletes with adverse analytic findings were found to be innocent of any anti-doping rule violation by tribunal (and where process and decision were not disputed by WADA, who have rights to oversee these matters).

      They can't expose athletes found to be innocent to that kind of negative publicity.

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  2. I just can't convince myself that this is really a significant step-forward.

    On one hand, it's positive because transparency is increasingly important when public confidence has been dented by cases of corruption in those involved in sport's governance.

    On the other hand, the WADA code doesn't require sports to announce AAFs in advance of adjudication that an ADRV took place. MOre importantly, there is a cogent argument that announcing a positive test effectively convicts an athlete in the eyes of the public, their peers and their sponsors during the lengthy hiatus between an AAF announcement and a tribunal. In the small minority of cases where the athlete is genuinely innocent this would be unfair.

    Could the ITF deliberately go soft on stars who have an AAF? Yes, that's certainly possible; we've seen it in other sports. But WADA know about all AAFs, and it must be hard to sweep them under the carpet without WADA either colluding or being fully asleep at the wheel (especially in this day and age). Our friend with the DHEA TUE shows that WADA are not inert when it comes to these issues.

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  3. Nadal and Djokovic are looking as "strong" as ever the first couple of matches. I know we've been over this all before, but Nadal looked finished and washed-up up until the clay season started. He did not better the quarter finals at any Grand Slam last year, out in first round of AO (be it a 5-setter, or rather, *especially* because it was a 5-setter - since when does Nadal lose the fifth set, even against a slugging opponent?) - now he is a world beater. The semi between Nadal and Dopervic will be a close affair on current form which is ludicrous given Nadal's play for the last year and a half. Like Federer said a few weeks ago, it is, literally, "incredible".

    As for Murray winning two 5-setters in a row. Who on earth cares? This is no evidence for anything. It was only brought up by someone annoyed by so-called bias on this blog, to play devil's advocate. Besides plenty on this blog have suspected Murray anyway, although I have always been far less suspicious of Murray and Federer than I have Nadal/Djokovic/Ferrer. If taking 5 sets to beat two really average opponents is somehow evidence of doping then lord help us.

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    1. Good points. The resurrection of Nadal in particular is quite beyond belief. I thought miracles were confined to the New Testament.

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    2. Bla bla bla bla Nadal dopes bla bla bla Djokovic dopes bla bla bla bla bla Ferrer dopes bla bla bla bla bla everyone else clean.

      Based in your post, I can say the ITF is doing a GREAT job in the doping controls. Just 3 dopers in the top. I don't know why you're even complaining. It would seem as bias, but I'm certain you're not.

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    3. @ Mystery---- it's not that odd for a doper to play not up to his outstanding level during the first week of a slam. They plan their regimen so that they peak in the second week when it really really matters. Most players at the pro level are suspect IMO. It's just who is better at masking it or given a free ride on testing.

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    4. Unknown, you are such a complete prat. To identify the more obvious dopers is in no way claiming they are the only dopers. You should change your moniker from Unknown to Merely Ignorant.

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    6. In case you missed it, Djokovic has looked strong for the last 5 years, much like how Federer looked strong for 5 years since 2004. Djokovic has been the #1 player for the most of the last 5 years, similar to how Federer was from 2004-2009. Nadal has been strong on clay for 10 of the last 11 years. Nadal's so called resurrection is much less dramatic than Federer's from 2013 to 2014 and he's a few years younger in comparison. Federer was losing to Gulbis, Robredo, Stakhovsky etc in 2013 and then come 2014 he started reaching slam semis, finals regularly again. Yet Federer is a saint and above suspicion but people who beat him are dopers. I mean it's ok to be suspicious but people who don't have their heads high up Federer's butt must find some of the posts with "selective suspicion" here highly amusing.

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    7. Also how come no one talks about Stan Wawrinka, a guy who was nowhere in the scene and then at 28 found his peak and now looks stronger than ever? He also seems to do nothing in the smaller tournaments but finds his best at slams. I bet that's not suspicious because he's Swiss and Federer's buddy. If he was a Spanish guy or East European, he'd be a prime candidate for doing here.

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    8. @Unknown: there are a lot more than three players who have doping suspicions surrounding them, and I never said otherwise. I stated the three most obvious ones in my opinion. Cilic and Troicki who recently served doping bans are two more. And that is only on the men's side. What you put up is a typical strawman argument - you state something ridiculous that was never said in the first place, then you beat it down easily. I don't really know what your point was though, as we both think that more than 3 players are probably dopers.

      @ John Clarke: I am certainly not up Federer's butt, as you put it. I state my opinions based on playing style, recovery times, strange injury lay-offs, comments on doping, how open players are in their opinions about doping, and sudden improvements in form out of nowhere (Djokovic January 2011 for example). It it you that is a bit obsessed with Federer, certainly not me.

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    9. Also, Stan got a lot of talk on this site after he won AO 2014, then again at the French Open 2015. But knowing that would take long-term nuanced reading and understanding of this blog, not the figurative 5 minute crash course.

      In my opinion he's certainly also "looking strong" from what I've seen this tournament, despite his 5-setter.

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    11. I have followed this place long enough to know how much mention Wawrinka gets, I even did a google search to make sure before posting it. Anyone can go to the link and check https://www.google.com/#q=site:tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com+Wawrinka

      There are only a few posts suspecting him. So spare me your "lot of talk"
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      As for me being obsessed with Federer, it's mostly in response to your obsession with Nadal/Djokovic. Every post on this site, regardless of what the subject matter is, gets diverted to Nadal/Djokovic obsession within a few posts. It's mostly to show the readers that Federer also did some "incredible" things in his career like Djokovic and Nadal and can similarly be put under suspicion and the "playing style" excuse doesn't always cut it. I know that it is a hard sell to the posters here as most of them are Fed fans but I am sure that many neutrals read this space and they would be able to see it.

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    12. I thought you said you were out of here? Promises, promises.

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    14. Richard , why are you so bothered with John?
      he is only saying what's on his mind.

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    15. Hey, I'm not the one who said he'd had enough! But what is on his mind? Only that Federer is probably the worst doper in tennis, more than a certain Spaniard. Delivered ad nauseam with little more than a passionate animosity towards the Swiss it fails to be convincing. To be consistent, he should maintain that every great player since Laver has doped, based on little more than that they were great. If you take that view then it is pointless to look for evidence in playing style, performances, career trajectories, injury patterns, physical changes and so forth. I don't say that Federer can't be a doper, or has never doped, but the evidence is seriously weak if you compare him to other top players. Unless you're Federer-obsessed that is. As he is. Yawn. He is just a Nadal fan-boy in drag.

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    16. According to John Clarke Federer is a doper (and Wawrinka) but Nadal and Djokovic are clean. Well, there goes his credibility right there. It's fine to believe every player is beyond suspicion but then to say that the most obvious culprits are clean is ludicrous. I suppose you also believe that Cilic, Troicki and Sharapova are also clean and were just wronged by the system? And Serena really hid in her panic room because she thought the drug tester at her door was going to murder her.

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    17. @Lopi

      You are not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you? Don't put words in my mouth. I never claimed that Nadal and Djokovic are clean but Federer and Wawrinka are dopers. You are too stupid to understand what I said.

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    18. LOL. Sure. Whatever floats your boat. Moron.

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    19. John Clarke (aka Nadal fanboy), as I pointed out earlier, your arguments that Federer dopes would as easily convict any other top player in the last forty years, many of whom peaked rapidly, enjoyed a period of near invincibility and then finished their careers with fluctuating results - often as their injuries and failing bodies got the better of them. Like Federer. Your droning insistence that Federer is one of the biggest dopers of them all cuts about as much ice as maintaining that Laver, Rosewall, Connors, Borg, Wilander, Becker and Sampras - to name some of them - were doping like Nadal (or the other most likely big names of Djokovic and Ferrer, for example.) And, by the way, repetition of your assertion doesn't make it any more convincing - merely obsessive.

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    20. @John Clarke: I am a neutral and I see suspicious happenings simply for what they are. If you must know, I used to hope Djokovic would beat the top two to keep it interesting, until I could no longer ignore the obvious when he became a world beater out of nowhere. Are you, truly, a neutral yourself?

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    21. @Mystery

      Everyone has their favorites but when it comes to doping I see suspicious behavior in all three of them. You say Djokovic became a world beater suddenly, fair enough but it is not completely unprecedented. Federer also became a world beater suddenly in 2004. He was just a year younger than Djokovic in 2011. So if you suspect Djokovic, it is fair that you'd suspect Federer too. Nadal has been suspicious with his breaks, but Djokovic does not have them. So that argument does not hold water when you are comparing Djokovic and Federer.

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    22. The idea is that Federer's rise to dominance was fairly constant without too much of a plateau, whereas Djokovic was a perennial world no.3 or 4 for many years who was known for suffering physically at key times, before a sudden shift to domination in 2011, such that an 'explanation' in the form of a Gluten Free diet was revealed, which sounds an awful lot like horse shit. Make no mistake, what value that has is up for debate of course, but it is a distinct difference in circumstances.

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    23. Djokovic was only stopped by Federer and Nadal in those years before 2011, so he was not a nobody and he won a slam at 20 and was a constant #3 for almost 3 years. Federer's rise to the top was not constant. He was one of the Roddick, Hewitt, Safin etc group till 2003. Then in 2004, he reached a completely new level and hardly ever lost to his peers again. That is not a constant rise, that is as sudden as it can get.

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    24. @John, indeed, Federer started to play in a league of his own. But the gap was not physical, he did not start to run faster and longer and hit harder than anybody else. All comments where about his effortlessness, his variety of shotmaking, his anticipation, his ballet like style on court. If there were widespread doping cases throughout the world of sport showing that prohibited substances were causing these effects, I would immediately point out at Federer. But PEDs are not known to have this kind of artistic effects. Some found his dominance boring and where happy to the see the raging bull destroy his world of tennis and bringing a MMA feeling on court. But all of this is history, nowadays you have to be vegan and gluten-free to dominate. And quite honestly, I like Djokovic.

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    25. Yeah he suddenly discovered a hidden art in 2004 and became invincible lol

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    26. You are full of such shit. Federer was singled out as a coming player from the time her turned pro as a 16 year old. He was a junior grand slam champion at 18. At 19 he had taken out the reigning Wimbledon champion and greatest grass court player in the history of the game, Pete Sampras. Only two years later, in 2003, he won the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles. He was 22. He went on to win the year end championship and then took his second slam title at the AO at the beginning of 2004. His peak years followed to the end of 2007, with a resurgence following recovering from mono in 2008. His dominance ended by the age of 30 - the same age incidentally as the great Rod Laver, who won the calendar slam at that age and then no more major titles, despite a career continuing well into his mid-thirties. Like Federer. Federer always showed the talent he was and did not make any transformation in his game that catapulted him from nowhere. His career path, even in more recent years, has shown no great surprises (compared to many others we see today). A back injury got the better of him in his early thirties for a while. It appears it has done so again. Your knowledge of the game is appalling. You are blinded by your animosity. That is the only thing that drives your "contribution"- such as it is - here.

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    28. Actually, Federer was still only 21 when he won his first Wimbledon in in 2003, which you conveniently don't remember. Too young?

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    29. Hey retard, are you too dumb to see that I have been ignoring you for days? Stop pestering me for attention you manchild. No need to get so emotional when someone points fingers at your boy Federer.

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    30. I love the way you can't help but respond. Even though you say you don't want to. It would also be unfair to say you have run out of arguments, because you never had any.

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    31. @John Clarke - As sudden as it can get? http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/roger-federer/f324/rankings-history Look at that history and tell me again that Roger's rise was 'as sudden as you can get'. It's clear he had more potential than, say, Hewitt or Roddick.

      In 2010 Djokovic won 2 titles (not including Davis Cup) and seemed to be outlasted physically by the likes of Nadal (who wasn't?). Contrast that with 2011 where he played more matches and outlasted everyone everywhere on his way to 3 slams and 10 titles. If he was only stopped by Fed and Nadal before, including in LATE 2010 (he was overwhelmed by Nadal at the US Open and completely dismantled by Fed at the WTF), how on Earth did he suddenly go 10-1 against them? Djokovic maintained his form and those two just tailed off at the same time? Unlikely. He looked a completely different player.

      By contrast, in 2003 Federer won 7 titles including Wimbledon and the TMC. The jump to 2004 is hardly THAT crazy, and he was owning Roddick from the start (2001).

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    32. All good info, Adam, but you are arguing with a jerk who has no knowledge of the history of the game.

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    33. @Adam

      In 2003, Federer's slam results outside that Wimbledon win were, 4th round-1st round-4th round, In 2010 Djokovic's slam results were QF-QF-SF-F. How is it that Federer's jump from 2003 to 2004 was not crazy but Djokovic's was? In fact, Djokovic easily had much better results from 2008-2010 than Federer had in 2001-2003. He won a slam and could have won multiple if he wasn't stopped by Federer and Nadal, whereas Federer had early round exits at majors most of the time. At the end of 2003, no one in the world could have predicted the rise Federer had from 2004 onward, NO ONE. Yes, he obviously was very talented, which is a prerequisite to get to the top, whether you dope or not. Some people even thought that he could win multiple majors and be #1. But did anyone really see how it all turned out? From 2005 French Open to 2007 US open he did not win 13 out of 13 majors only because Nadal stopped him on clay every time in the final/SF. He won everything else. That is as crazy as it can get. No other player is even remotely close to that in the open era. It is a definite red flag as far as I am concerned. In 2008, his level dropped a bit. Was it a coincidence that it was an Olympic year? After the Olympics, he again went on to win 4 of the next 6 majors and played in the final of all 6. Did he dominate tennis purely through art in an era that required immense physical strength, endurance as his followers like to believe? How did he have such amazing recovery after every match and how did he always peak at majors without fail? It's amusing that people here spend their lives accusing, mocking other players but when someone expresses a bit of suspicion about Federer an Army arrives in his defense.

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    34. You are simply ignoring the trends presented to you. Federer was clearly increasing his success up to a peak where Djoker seemed to plateau for a long time and suddenly increase. That's all there is to it. Also QF QF SF F is comparable to someone like Ferrer at his best, but him winning slams just wasn't going to happen.

      Djoker's 2011 was compared by many to Fed's 2006 as a GOAT year. On the back of 2010 that is just insane, while 2006 > 2005 > 2004 > 2003 for Fed is a completely understandable trend. In fact, for Fed's rise in form it's pretty much 2001 < 2002 < 2003 < 2004 < 2005 < 2006 . It is, in fact, as unidirectional as you could even contrive.

      My other points stand. There is just simply more evidence to suspect Djoker (and easily even more Nadal) over Federer. Fed's level dropped in 2008 olympics, yet Nadal maintains his insane form from that year. So now we're in the amusing territory of assuming Nadal was fine with the Olympics PED scoping but Roger Federer wasn't. That is a bit much.

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    35. Djokovic's plateau was not #10 in the world but #3. A player who's a constant #3 for 3 years at the age of 20-23, a major winner and multiple finalist playing against two other great players has to be exceedingly good. Federer easily had more dramatic rise of the two. This is not even up for an argument. It is a fact. Federer played only once in a major final before 2004, his next best was QF, otherwise most were early round exits. From 2004 he hardly ever failed to make it to the final.

      Federer's whole 2004-07 period was insane on the back of his previous result. That is the whole point. No one in the history has has such dominating back to back years. No ONE. If Djokovic's rise in 2011 was suspicious, which I admit it was, Federer's rise was equally if not more suspicious. We just don't want to talk about it.

      As for Nadal, yes his constant absences are suspicious and he gets more than enough eyeballs for that, in fact downright hate on this site. But then Djokovic never takes a break. What does that tell you? Maybe all players don't follow a similar pattern. So just because Nadal performed well in the 2008 Olympic, it doesn't exonerate Federer.

      Federer for example had a decline in 2013, a year when they started the bio passport program, but he managed to bounce back in 2014. Change of regime? Now maybe another change? Let's see how he performs now after a knee surgery and constant back troubles.

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    36. Well, our perceptions of suspicion are VASTLY out of alignment then. That's fine, and we can continue to disagree on this, and I honestly welcome the discussion at this point.

      The fact is that Fed reached a greater level of domination, but 1-6 against Federer and Nadal (the only two players to stop Djoker from goating for many years, remember? *wink*) to 10-1 against Federer and Nadal while they were in good form, from one year to the next, at 23/24 years of age, is just beyond peculiar. Also the one loss was to a Fed who put on arguably a career best clay performance with lighter balls which favoured his attacking game (also his one win against Fed was in a 5 setter where Fed made about 34854563 errors - in fact, 2010 is regarded as one of Fed's worst years and his form really suffered after the AO due to a lung infection (in 2011 Fed's form was definitely better), yet he STILL went 4-1 against Djokovic). Other than that, Djokovic was pretty much unstoppable. 7 straight finals against Nadal, and beating him on clay twice in a row.. Again, look at the matches. Djoker seemed a completely different player, and all this after establishing a very steady and consistent level for 4 years until he was approaching his mid 20s. Fed's rise reached an insane peak, but it was in a much smoother gradient and at his very early 20s. He didn't play at the same sort of level for 4 years then suddenly have his 2006 beating everyone he lost to in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to a statistically significant level. So I personally don't see the problem in terms of the trends.

      The absolute level at which they ended up playing isn't the issue for me. It's, amongst other things, the changes to this level over time.

      For the record, my 2008 Olympics reference was just to smother your original point in gasoline then light it on fire, not to necessarily shift the blame game to other players.

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    37. John Clarke says: "Djokovic was only stopped by Federer and Nadal in those years before 2011, so he was not a nobody"

      In 2010 Djokovic lost to Llodra, Berdych, Roddick, Malisse, Melzer, Krajinovic, Verdasco, Rochus, Ljubicic,Youzhny and Tsonga. But, hey don't let facts get in the way of your fantasy world in which Djokovic and Nadal are clean but Federer and Wawrinka are dirty. LOL. (ps. next time you state a "fact" check your "facts").

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    38. John Clarke has no recall of Federer's rise to the top of the game - or he constructs tennis history from comic books. No one can predict in sports what will happen in any competitor's career when they are at the beginning of that career. But Federer was always amongst the best of his year from his junior days. When he beat Sampras at Wimbledon aged only 19 he signalled a future grand slam champion. Two years later he won the first of his Wimbledon championships. No one who followed the game was surprised. But what he also signalled - which John Clarke cannot acknowledge - is a level of playing skill never before seen in the game - or since. His dominance that followed was no surprise. There were no dramatic physical changes or changes in playing style that posted red flags of doping - except in John Clarke's fevered imagination. If Federer has doped he has disguised it better than any top player I have seen. With his decline and critical losses in so many important matches he may also be the most hopeless doper I have seen.

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    40. I am a boxing fan as well and suddenly guys are getting picked off right and left, so to speak. To the point where the gym maxim "if you're not cheating you're not trying" seems to be the case. I am a Nadal fan but even I didn't buy this yesterday. And Djokovic is following the maxim that if you want to hide something do it right out in the open, because his turn to the juice is easy to trace. The Williams Sisters are a joke. Where is this sudden resurgence of Venus coming from if not a hypodermic? I just think be it boxing or tennis, almost all the top people are doing something.....

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  4. I remember this from a 2013 article:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-09-24/private-doping-probes-seen-hurting-tennis-as-cilic-feigns-injury

    Other Secrets?

    Munoz, the former Spanish federation president, said in an interview in Madrid last week that “many times” tennis authorities have kept cases secret.

    He said he travelled with a Spanish player, whom he declined to identify, to an ATP hearing in Paris after the athlete tested positive for a drug he took to help heal a shoulder injury in the late 1990s. The men’s tour fined the player the equivalent of about 5,000 euros ($6,700) and never made the test result public, according to Munoz.

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    Regardless of this change, the governing bodies of Tennis will always protect players that they want to, for whatever reason or the other.

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  5. In the latest bit of nutritional bullshit from Djokovic, he now claims to be vegan, while eating a little fish here and there http://www.wsj.com/articles/djokovic-vegan-with-a-little-fish-here-and-there-1464285406?tesla=y

    It's of course easy to look at this as another example of him providing a palatable reason for again elevating himself above all the other players, however I think it's also likely this is just part of an effort to brand him a certain way, and promote his new vegan restaurant. Anyway, I wish athletes would not do this stuff because it sets an unrealistic precedent, not to mention if you are eating fish you are not vegan so why use that term?

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    1. He's a snide, cynical mutha that guy. He has this look that says "yeah I'm doping and you can't do a thing about it." He's a hubristical athlete.

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  6. Nadal just withdrew from Roland Garros citing a wrist injury. Let the speculation begin!

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    1. I thought the running theory according to resident tinfoil hats was that he found a way to beat the bio passport system. Now the same people would come back with a different theory. It's hilarious!

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  7. Didn't look to be causing him too much bother in the first two rounds.

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    1. Yes but he did say that if he kept playing his wrist would break. LOL.

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    2. ...if not explode! LOL

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  8. In the "Case Closed" thread I did say that Nadal would pull out of Rio because of the increased testing there. I didn't see this withdrawal coming but my guess is he will also avoid Wimbledon.

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  9. Nadal withdraws from Roland Garros, well now that's a surprise.

    Regardless of form, Roland Garros has always been Nadal's favorite stomping ground. Despite his numerous injuries and absences from the tour throughout his career, he has always turned up, played and on most occasions won the tournament. It's always been interesting how Nadal had never been severely injured before/during Roland Garros to the degree that he had to withdraw, instead his form had always peaked during this time of the season.

    So for him to pull out now, the circumstances (whatever they are) must be grave.

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  10. Nadal has withdrawn citing injury but Federer has pulled out of the tournament before it even began. And he has been dropping out of tournaments for a while now. So to be fair, it doesn't seem right to single out Nadal's withdrawal as suspicious.

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    1. well with Nadal it has been a chronic thing throughout his career. It's not like this is the first GS he's pulled out of. That's why Federer's withdrawal was such big news. Hey, I don't know if Fed dopes. But I do know he's less suspicious than Nadal. I never said Federer's definitely 100% clean. I just think age has caught up to him. Hey, maybe they all dope to a certain degree, some more than others. But for Nadal to pull out of RG it must be serious, whatever it is.

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    2. "To be fair", Cilic's mummy really did buy him some energy powder, Troicki really did suddenly get a needle-phobia, and Djokovic really can put his amazing form down to not eating bread any more...

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    3. Oh and Sharapova really was telling the truth, honest...

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    4. I think it's just surprising considering during the first two rounds he only dropped 9 games. Granted Groth and Bagnis aren't exactly world beaters, still his wrist didn't look hampered at all.

      But it's possible that he might have tweaked something during his off-day practice, hence his immediate withdrawal.

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    5. Murray said on TV that he knew about this when he practiced with Nadal before the tournament.

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    6. Nadal has had several suspicious injuries and miraculous comebacks over the years and I have always called it out as such. I also used to say "the day he withdraws from RG citing injury, then I will believe it to be genuine". Well, the day has come and I believe. I know, Nadal has been the boy who cried wolf too many times in the past, but for once I think he is really injured. Just my opinion, and I do understand people have good reason to not believe him.

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    7. It will be interesting to see if he'll pull out of the Olympics for the second time.

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    8. Djokovic was the most startling and rapid transformation I've ever seen, but I'm not saying anyone is innocent. These days, whether it's tennis, boxing, whatever, more and more people are getting popped and it's a case of "if you're not cheating, you're not really trying."

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  11. Wow, huge news. He did not look like he had any injury whatsoever the first two rounds when he was drubbing his opponents. Funny that. And now he suddenly gets an injury midway through a slam? Why doesn't this happen to any other player? Apart from Cilic, I mean...

    Remember back in 09, when he lost to Soderling in the first grand slam ever in which the national authority did their own drug testing. That was a really strange coincidence too.

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  12. He got served a silent ban, Cilic-style; he won't be at Wimbledon, you can bet on it.

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    1. Well, if he did have this problem, he wasn't going to advertise it to the tennis world before RG. Murray says he knew about it. So who knows in this case? I wouldn't bet on it, but it's one possibility.

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  13. In the case of Federer, it is known for some time now that his back causes troubles. It has visibly affected him in some matches, and he never came up with some weird explanations why the problem appeared and disappeared. What I find more fishy are his viral diseases, and how his knee issue in Australia came up. This raises eyebrows, in this doping ridden clean sport. But then, he obviously struggles, he is in and out of tournaments, as you would expect somebody to tries to get in form again. Nadal, as a contrast, had this extreme changes from totally injured to totally dominant in the blink of an eye. Again now, an injury appears out of nowhere, in Paris, that is unexpected to say at least. Besides his knees that were sort of a constant issue, but with sometimes adventurous stories to explain things, he has had such a wide range of injuries. It must be hard to earn your living as a top athlete when your body is so injury prone. I feel sorry for him. Almost.

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    1. "he never came up with some weird explanations why the problem appeared and disappeared"
      Did he come up with ANY explanation? I remember Edberg saying that his back got better because he rested less.

      Nothing weird about that.

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    2. You must be too young to have back trouble. The instruction these days from doctors is almost always that movement is the best medicine.

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  14. Bjorn Borg "Tennis is one of the cleanest sports - I know they test the players regularly"

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/25/tennis/bjorn-borg-tennis-cleanest-sport/index.html

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    Replies
    1. To be fair, as great (and most likely clean - unlike his post-career recreational drug years) as Borg was (and why, oh why did he stop playing so young? even if the ATP treated him harshly), he was never the most clear-headed thinker of the bunch.

      Delete
  15. Rafael Nadal pulls out of French Open with wrist injury

    Nine-time winner Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the French Open because of a wrist injury.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/36401280

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    Replies
    1. Why didn't he just use the other hand? The only reason he plays left handed is to make it fair to the other players, no?

      Delete
    2. @MTracy this made me laugh, thanks.

      Despite Murray's validation of the 'injury', I'm not exactly following just where he picked it up. The Humble Bull's press conference was about as clear as a Japanese DVD manual... maybe he 'felt the bone moving', just like he did in his match vs. Del Potro at Wimbledon 2011. Maybe he felt severe pain as he did during the AO final vs. Wawrinka in 2014. Or perhaps an injury just like the knees in the Rotterdam 2009 debacle?

      And if memory serves, didn't Raffer also play a match just before/during/just after suffering appendicitis?

      He's fast running out of body parts.

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    3. He certainly is. You forgot when he burnt his hand on the teppanyaki table. The guy is completely accident prone. How he managed to win 14 grand slams with all his many injuries/illnesses is a modern miracle.

      Delete
    4. Ironically this is what modern tennis pundits seem to think makes his claim for GOAT. Idiots.

      Delete
  16. Not sure what the FO coverage was like elsewhere but when the news of Señor Badknees' withdrawal broke, the over-indulgent melancholy on UK's ITV4 channel was beyond sycophantic; reaching a tone more appropriate for a sudden death or a maiming. John Inverdale and Marion Bartoli between them were practically writing eulogies about his exit. Ridiculous, and somewhat sickening if one holds the beliefs about his 'regime' as many of us here do.

    As others have said, don't be at all surprised if Wimbledon and the Olympics are skipped by the humble bull(shitter). Still, his unexpected absence from the tour gives him a lot more free time to bust the libel case against Mme Roselyne Bachelot, no?

    Every silver lining has a cloud, and all that.

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    2. For Nadal to pull out of the FO with the kind of form he is presently in he has either incurred an actual injury - despite showing no signs of any problems in his matches - or he's returned a positive test result (explaining his recent resurgence in form). Take your pick.

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    3. @richard

      Noted and agreed. What baffles me is that historically, sportspeople who suffer extensive injuries across their career, almost without exception, see their competitive days cut short - or at the very least their peak ability severely compromised. Chronic knee sufferers who quit before their time spring to mind include Ledley King and Brandon Roy.

      Whilst I appreciate every injured person is a different case, it remains inconceivable that not only has Raffer 'conquered' his supposed chronic knees, he's also suffered a plethora of other bone/muscular ailments besides and STILL manages to come back swinging, destroying theopposition, on a grueling surface with a gruelling defensive game.

      It simply doesn't compute on any level. Hence, forgive me for any skepticism about his latest medical setback. But the tennis world at large will insist that Raffer is simply a biological conquistador, overcoming his various injuries with the same 'spirit' and 'commitment' that he uses against his opponent. When I see notorious homers like McEnroe and Bartoli waxing lyrical about his 'courage' and 'humility', I wonder sometimes if I've stumbled into some sort of perverse in-joke; perhaps a version of the Truman Show where everyone in my world is conspiring to convince me Raffer is a genuine, clean, legit tennis player.

      Delete
    4. Great post, Ump. I cringe everytime I hear tennis analysts go full emo, even moreso when it's about the Humble Bull's battling through a multitude of ailments, each one more creative than the next. They HAVE to know but choose to not say anything in order to keep their jobs.

      Delete
    5. Tennis commentary is the noble art of stating the obvious except when it coincides with the truth.

      Delete
    6. It does make me wonder though. if this is a positive test, then how many times has this happened and why is he being given the luxury of not being outed? Surely there's a threshold to letting it happen? Or has Nadal become too big a name.

      The second question is if this is a positive test, why does it keep happening to Nadal? Why do players like Djokovic not get caught, I.e. how is Novak so ahead of the game?

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    7. @Beacon Tripper

      The fact that 31 athletes who competed in London 2012 have recently re-tested positive - four years after an event which had one of the most comprehensive anti-doping programmes at the time - shows us historically that anti-doping is, and I fear always will be miles behind the dopers.

      I personally believe the only hope is to emforce a regular programme across all sports of storing and periodically re-testing old blood and urine samples, with heavy compettive and financial penalties meted out to reflect the period of tome a drugged athlete has enjoyed their ill-gotten gains. Even then, many substances exist which we already know have a very limited detectable time in the body.

      Delete
    8. Oh, and perhaps it isn't a ban for Señor Badknees at all. Perhaps Raffer's regular trips to the sick bay are necessary to ensure a TUE, or to put in some extra-curricular out-of-competition building up...

      Delete
    9. "Or has Nadal become too big a name." That's a joke, right? Nadal is one of the world's most popular tennis players AND has 14 grand slams, one on all surfaces. And the Olympic Gold. Too big a name? Other than Federer, he's the biggest name in the sport.

      Delete
  17. I have heard a rumour that Nadal's wrist injury is a repetitive strain injury. Incurred from picking his shorts out of his butt cleft over so many years. Only a rumour, mind you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Breaking News!!

    1) Djokovic has just become a "Pescetarian"!!

    Djokovic: ‘Vegan with a Little Fish Here and There’

    Djokovic, who won his second-round match at the French Open on Thursday, said he has been a “pescatarian” for almost a year now. “Vegan with eating a little bit of fish here and there,” he said.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/djokovic-vegan-with-a-little-fish-here-and-there-1464285406

    2)But in the mid of septmber 2015, just after his win of US Open 2015, he said that he was on a strict gluten-free diet beacuse it had played a major role in helping him attain the number one ranking.

    Here is one of the most important point of that diet:

    "Have a Meaty Dinner"

    Later, when it’s time for dinner, I eat protein in the form of meat or fish. That usually means steak, chicken, or salmon, as long as it’s organic, grass-fed, free-range, wild, etc. I order meats roasted or grilled, and fish steamed or poached if possible."

    Source: https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/8-food-secrets-that-fueled-novak-djokovics-122827974.html

    Hence, two obvious considerations come out:

    A) If Djokovic in mid september 2015 ( just after his win of US Open 2015 ) was still boasting the "Free Gluten Free Diet" according to which having a meaty dinner is a must, how hell can he say toward the end of may 2016 that he has been a “pescatarian” for almost a year?

    Three months and a half ( the missing months to make a whole year ), which are almost one third of a year, are just little things for a tennis professional like Djokovic?

    B) "Never change a winning horse" is very often a very wise common principle and in this case it involves " Never change a winning diet" but it turns out that Djokovic has disregarded this wise principle to become "Pescetarian"!!

    Final comment: this matter is a bit strange to say the least..!!

    Best regards.

    Fabrice


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    Replies
    1. Reminds me strongly of the omerta that existing during cycling; specifically the doping principle that competitors cannot live on bread and water alone - 'paniagua' - except now Djokovic is claiming to live on bread and water, without the bread.

      Tennis players defying the prinicple of energy conservation. I'm quite skeptical about a professional, world beating athlete who can last longer than John Holmes without meat, carbs, starch or many sources of fibre. Perhaps he just eats mountains of nuts.

      Delete
    2. Its bogus. While a good diet leaning towards more vegetables helps, it doesn't turn you into a physics defying athlete.

      Delete
    3. Why would a player who just had an incredible year, winning three slams, suddenly decide to give up a huge source of his diet (the protein part: meat and dairy) by becoming vegan (with a little fish here and there and tofu I'm guessing) It really baffles the mind. I am inclined to not believe him.

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    5. Djoker is laughing at everyone. So obvious. Hide it in plain sight.

      Delete
    6. @GutterDandy

      Djokovic isn't the most cunning guy at all, it's just the professional tennis system that is flawed even at the begginning!!

      Here are two quintessential facts:

      1) "Former French Open semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis hits out at hypocrisy in tennis"

      http://sport360.com/article/tennis/french_open/179773/ernests-gulbis-searching-for-french-open-redemption-two-years-after-semi-final-berth/

      2)

      a) The total CONTRIBUTIONS TO WADA’S BUDGET 2015 were $29,057,399 (Million US Dollars), to cover Sports drug abuse World Wide.

      b)In 2015, Roger Federer made $67 (Million US Dollars),
      Novak Djokovic $48 (Million US Dollars), Rafael Nadal $32.5 (Million US Dollars), Andy Murray $22 (Million US Dollars),
      Kei Nishikori $19,5 (Million US Dollars) and so on!!

      c)Do the math!!!!

      Hence, as a logical consequence, they ( ITF, ATP and WTA )also apply double standards in anti doping controls, in fact, they have always caught small fish!!

      That's it!!

      All the best!

      Fabrice

      PS the recent case of Maria Sharapova is just an exception that won't become the rule!!


      Delete
    7. OMG! This is real entertainment! Hollering!!!

      Delete
  19. @john Clarke: the problem is you have basically said that you only push the Federer-case because this blog discusses a lot about Nadal and Djokovic, and you try to go against the grain a little. So, do you really believe ('believe' because we all lack 100% proof, of course) that all three are doping? And if you do, why do you not criticise Djokovic and Nadal just as much as Federer? Especially when there is a mountain of evidence against them, as Adam has succinctly pointed out, especially in Dopervic's case.

    Djokovic's 2010 was actually worse than his previous years. Yet in 2011 he turned it around, with massive interest. He was beating Nadal, *on clay*, multiple times. Yet in September 2010 he was pretty much slaughtered by Nadal at he USO. Just about the fastest slam surface (i.e Least suited to Nadal). Djokovic's career progression just Does Not Make Sense.

    Nadal's is also strange - watch his yt videos of 2003 and 2004, his body exploded to an extent that is just not natural. He was always quick. But he suddenly got fast AND The most long lasting player ever. The two just do not go together. 100 meter runners do not win the marathon. Yet Nadal (figuratively) does. Add to this his large muscles which he claims he does not work out for. (Of course he has to work out, 'help' or no 'help' - but why lie to muddy the waters?). His lack of Any substantial comment on anti-doping. His weird absences. His loss to Soderling at FO2009, the first time ever a GS's national doping body tested players in addition to the (weak) ITF testing. His early round exists at Wimbledon when they were cracking down on testing. Surely the 'goat' would not lose to Lucas rosol at a major!

    I absolutely welcome good and full discussion here, as it allows proper laying down of evidence. And I am glad that your more recent posts are more reasonable! Yet I suggest to get even more reasonable, and acknowledge the bleeding obvious about Doping in tennis, and not obsess over any one player.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Mystery and John Clarke

      1) "Roger Federer: ´I want to Win Wimbledon. Nadal? I´m a big fan of him´ "

      Source: http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Roger-Federer-I-want-to-Win-Wimbledon-Nadal-Im-a-big-fan-of-him-articolo32781.html

      2) Rafa Nadal gives Roger Federer praise during an interview at Indian Wells 2015.

      Go on google, type the words above mentioned and you'll find the full interview.


      Hence, they know each other that they have their own "little dirty secrets" for their overperformances and as a logical consequence they praise each other in the interviews for the joy of their gullible fans and complaisant ( to say the least! ) journalists!!

      That's it!!

      All the best!

      Fabrice

      Delete
    2. Soderling really went on to prove ...... errr....nothing.

      Delete
  20. Federer is of course a doping suspect, every top athlete is. He occasionally gets attention on this blog about it. Maybe he was, as John implies, the first big doper in tennis. But a rather poor one, looking at his record against Nadal and later Djokovic. Could he not afford the best doctors in that discipline? Are we just watching a contest of druids out there, as in Asterix and Obelix? The one with Miraculix behind gets the best potion? I'm afraid it could well be, they all are pushing the limits and masking it. Big money at stake, after all.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As sad/bleak as this may sound, I think the only way the world will ever know if a tennis player was doping would be for them to have an accident causing their death, which would mandate an autopsy, where the police would then perform extensive blood analysis. Like what has happened with Michael Jackson and now Prince.

    I say this because, as we have seen, no one (agency/panel) to date, for whatever reason/rationale, can/will/desires to, perform the requisite blood testing needed to prove an athlete was using PEDs (before his/her death).

    And it's a shame, any way you look at it. Sigh...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The truth is most fans don't care about the issue as long as they see amazing tennis being played in front of them. Same with boxing fans.

      Delete
    2. What you have said can be true for boxing but not for tennis and soccer because most fans of these two sports are simply gullible, they truly believe in the unbelievable stories created by complaisant ( to say the least! ) journalists!!

      In other words, it's a mix of:

      a)"It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled" by Mark Twin, American author and humorist.

      b)"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed"
      by Friederich Nietzsche, German philosopher

      Anyway, it also depends on the fact that most fans in tennis and soccer are basically sedentary people!!

      That's it!!

      All the best!

      Fabrice

      Delete
    3. People are getting popped for juicing in boxing right and left, and I have a lot of connections in that world, and can tell you they are only catching a few of them, when most high level boxers are doping.

      Delete
    4. I agree with you 100%, in fact, I had told you:

      "What you have said can be true for boxing...."

      Anyway, in my opinion, doping in tennis and soccer is morally worse than in boxing because boxing ( and martial arts ) is much more dangerous than tennis and soccer!!

      My 2 cents!

      All the best!

      Fabrice

      PS obviously, doping in boxing still remains a bad practice which ruins that noble art!!

      Delete
    5. Thing is, doping in boxing is like loading your gloves chemically. You can cycle up and kill somebody. And this is happening more and more lately, guys being sent to the hospital in comas, near death experiences, etc. Last weekend in the UK, one boxer died 6 times on his way to the hospital, but they revived him. At least in tennis and soccer, juicing won't usually result in someone's permanent physical disability or even the end of someone's life.

      Delete
    6. @GutterDandy

      "Boxing Insider: Now if you’re a fighter—let’s take this over to boxing for example—in your medical opinion, what specifically is taking testosterone going to help you do in the sport of boxing?

      Dr. Ronald Kamm: It makes you stronger. You have faster recovery from injury. In a fight, if you were hit you might recover faster than if you weren’t on steroids"

      Source: http://www.boxinginsider.com/headlines/discussing-peds-in-boxing-with-dr-ronald-kamm-sports-psychiatrist/

      Obviously, what I had written in the previous post was in reference to this ( just above mentioned ) other aspect of doping in boxing!!

      Let's say that it's a mix and as a logical consequence, it can be said that doping in boxing is at the same level of doping in tennis: Cheating!!

      No more and no less!!

      My 2 cents!

      All the best!

      Fabrice

      Delete
  22. Hmm 36 year old Venus just bagels 26 year old Corner in deciding set of a physical match...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember when she came off a really bad year to beat Davenport at Wimby with huge boils all over her face? No one expected her to win that year. It was so obvious.

      Delete
    2. Its indeed interesting for a 36 year old with a debilitating autoimmune disease, and considering she's also playing and winning in the doubles too.

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    3. Well, she finally ran out of juice today......

      Delete
  23. How long was DelPo off with his wrist injury? Months? More than a year? That's assuming it was a genuine injury - which I think it probably was. Apparently he required surgery. The human body cannot heal faster than it does naturally - so the doctors tell us. So what are the chances Nadal will be recovered to play in two weeks at Wimbledon? If he is, then someone ought to tell DelPo he's been going about it the wrong way. He should talk to the Miracle Man. Of course, if it's only a failed doping test - or ducking a test ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll reserve my judgement for the rest of the summer but I have a feeling we won't see Nadal at either Wimbledon or the Olympics.

      Delete
    2. The problem Richard is that lies about injuries seem endemic across both tours; whether exaggerated, or part of mind games, or some other, more duplicitous reason.

      Didn't Alize Cornet claim she was facing 6 months off with a dreadful back injury at the beginning of the year - only to return in a few weeks? (incidentally, we read that Tatjana Maria is considering legal action against Cornet/ITF for Cornet's blatant rule-breaking during their recent FO match; both in terms of assistance for cramp and mammoth pauses between points)

      Venus' Sjögren's Syndrome - just lol, is that even a thing anymore? My understanding is that affliction requires long-term medication and the effects would keep coming and going - anyone watched her resurgence over the last year? Not a sign of any such disease.

      Do we have room on the page to lost even half of Serena's ailments?

      And then of course there is the king of clay and deceit, Señor Badknees himself. Chronic knee complications do not just vanish; especially when the subject plays elite level clay-court tennis in the midst of such a comdition.

      As mentioned in another post above, I truly believe that many of these 'injuries' are perhaps sustaining an exising TUE certificate, or just blatant gamesmanship. Raffer's withdrawal is unusual this time around because usually he waits until he is about to lose a tennis match before humbly revealing a crippling affliction that both earns him sympathy from the sycophants, and takes the gloss off his opponent's victory (i.e. Stan's AO 2014). So either Raffer is indeed facing a silent ban, or he is genuinely injured. But again, where was this injury, which now has been supposedly affecting him since Madrid, when he was walloping his first two opponents at Roland Garros? Plus, Maran Cilic and Sharapova have definitively proved that sudden injuries can be the mask for an anti-doping infringement.

      Maybe, just maybe Raffer realised (or was reminded) that Lance Armstrong would possibly never have been caught if he wasn't so greedy for TdF titles. Missing out on a ludicrous 10th FO could be collateral damage to avoid suspicion. Admittedly far-fetched, but if we learned anything from Armstrong, it's how inventive and fully committed a doping athlete can be.

      Enhanced anti-doping planned for this year's Wimbledon and of course the Olympics suggest Raffer's next emergence will indeed be at the hard court swing.

      Delete
    3. Many good points, Ump. I'm not clear, though, why Nadal would play two strong matches at RG before exiting. Did he suddenly make the Armstrong TdF connection? Was a new round of testing announced mid-tournament? Etc.

      It's certainly fishy, but I can't quite see the tactics behind this withdrawal.

      Delete
    4. @richard I've seen the scars on Delpo's wrist. You can't make that up. Unfortunately he was one of the few guys who could challenge the top 4 and he was felled by injury. Too bad. And you're right, Nadal may use the wrist excuse to miss Wimbledon and Rio but he'll be back at the USO. No way will this be a year-long absence. He's too old for that anyway. If he were gone that long I wouldn't expect him to ever return.

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    5. I haven't seen any mention here of the re-testing of athletes from the 2008 Olympics. Didn't Nadal win Gold there? Is it possible they discovered something and he was informed about it? I'm just throwing this out there. I wonder if we'll ever hear which athletes have tested positive.

      Delete
    6. @Lopi

      Are they re-testing 2008 athletes' samples too? The 2012 re-testing is well-documented, I referred to it earlier in this post.

      As for Raffer's 2008 gold, truth be told I personally didn't see anything truly suspicious about him until 2009 (his rapidly changing physique notwithstanding). As I commented earlier, I believe one way forward in anti-doping is a rigorous retrospective testing programme across sports, and a very heavy penalty inflicted on any positive tests discovered.

      Perhaps certain dopers would be put off cheating by the uncertainty of one day being a doping 'cold case'...

      Delete
    7. Yes they did re-test 454 samples from Beijing.

      http://www.olympic.org/news/the-ioc-takes-decisive-action-to-protect-the-clean-athletes-doped-athletes-from-beijing-london-and-sochi-all-targeted/249221

      "...As a result up to 31 athletes from six sports could be banned from competing at the Olympic Games in Rio. The Executive Board of the IOC today agreed unanimously to initiate proceedings immediately, with the 12 NOCs* concerned informed in the coming days. All those athletes infringing anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at the Olympic Games Rio 2016."

      That was announced on May 17. So, who knows? An then his withdrawal from the London Olympics just seemed very suspicious (and he was supposed to be flag bearer there).

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    8. Considering that most argentinian players were/are dopers; I don't doubt that Delpo wrist issues have been probably caused by having too much HGH.

      Delete
  24. I don't believe there'll be any enhanced testing at this years Olympics. Doctors are calling to postpone or move the Olympics because of the zika virus however the world health organisation says it'll spread regardless and the event can go ahead. If athletes believe there'll be stringent testing, they have valid reason to withdraw from Rio. Rory Mcelroy has already murmured he's concerned about the virus because he wants to start a family in the next two years with his fiancee.
    Also Tennis as a sport isn't as reliant on the Olympics as say swimming or athletics is. The Tennis year will go on regardless (i believe the US Open and Rio games slightly conflict this year) and money to be made elsewhere. So lets see who'll be there and wonder how stringent the testing will be for athletes who brave the journey to compete Rio.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Watching Wawrinka v Troiki we know for certain that one of them at least is a doper, as Troiki has served a doping ban. What a farce this game is.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Did nobody tell Caroline Wozniacki standing around in sandals (unstrapped) isn't good for an ankle injury and might further strain her injury?

    https://youtu.be/j5oARnC3ZUQ?t=693

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    Replies
    1. LOL. Reminds me of Nadal's golfing exploits during the chronic knee injury saga.

      Wozniacki is probably just dumb more than anything. Ironically, I'm sure she put her name to some sort of ankle/heel support product for ladies' footwear a few years back...

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    2. Indeed, Tennis is the leader in science defying techniques for their athletes. How those involved missed out on a Nobel peace prize for medicine is outrageous. lol

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  28. More comments from Haggerty about silent bans, with a bit more detail than the original article. Seems to be some momentum in a good direction - we'll see.

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/may/29/tennis-drugs-itf-president-david-haggerty-match-fixing

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  29. Excellent new article from Ewan McKenna in The Sunday Business Post - covers all sports not just tennis but still highly relevant:

    https://ewanmackenna.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/making-dopes-of-us-all/

    Worth reading although in my opinion the following paragraphs most resonate with the situation in tennis :

    All in all there are three methods to improve testing. You can better the sensitivity of the current test for the current drug, screening the banned substance at lower levels; you can create new tests for current drugs; and you can create new tests for new drugs. But look at it from the perspective of the athlete - at any given time they can use drugs so long as they don't use too much; they can use drugs we currently can't test for; and they can use drugs no one even knows exist. “When you look like that you say, 'The testers are pretty hard behind'”, says Tucker. “But you don't know what you don't know by definition. How far are we behind? We don't know because we don't know.

    As an example he alludes to organic chemists constantly modifying drugs and substances that makes them more effective but also less detectable. Right now there are drugs not even available commercially, that exist only by codes but are probably being used for performance benefits. And it goes on. Some reports say there are 80 different types of EPO coming out of China, with molecule modifications to avoid detection. “If there are 80 types of EPO, 80 types of tests are needed and the cost-benefit is off the charts negative,” adds Tucker. “So what they tried to do was detect the benefit of the drug rather than the presence of the drug. That's the biological passport but the problem here is that it's not sensitive enough to detect all the doping.”

    In essence, anti-doping has wagered its future on something that doesn't work. With natural variations in humans, and an upper limit in tests, so long as you constantly microdose within that limit you won't get caught. It's why the profiles of top athletes that dope don't have variations or spikes, as if drawn deliberately and expertly. But it's those at the back trying to keep up but without the resources that offer the obvious cheat charts. “They keep catching no-namers, and maybe they are using them as scapegoats,” he concludes, “but it's also that they are the guys who make mistakes. The top guys don't make them but this is where the health risk comes in again.”

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    1. “They keep catching no-namers, and maybe they are using them as scapegoats,” he concludes, “but it's also that they are the guys who make mistakes. The top guys don't make them..."

      Almost a perfect assessment of the tennis situation. When the top players travel/tour with their own medical people, only the most naive could possibly believe they are there to massage sore shoulders and apply Band-Aids. It's already a given that the no-name journeymen caught doping don't have either the finances or the logistic resources to secure their substances with minimal risks.

      Still, nice to see it formally quoted. Not sure if it is just me, but the doping articles in sports seems to be increasing; and slowly, by proxy, this is putting tennis under more scrutiny.

      But one obstacle with making deeper inroads into tennis' drug-fuelled underbelly is a fanbase that is almost willfully ignorant and deluded about the sport, and the potential for cheating by its proponents. Even bringing it up in a rational and logical manner has earned me much vitriol within news article commentary and blogs.

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    2. Well, I remember in 2011 when Djokovic was having his breakout year there was a doctor in his box at every tournament. I believe his name was Igor Cetojevic. But at some point they parted ways. I wondered at the time why he would need a doctor in his camp. I think he was the one credited with introducing Djokovic to the gluten-free diet.

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    3. On the fanbase: I know a guy who claims he can't stand Djokovic but then again he didn't mind forking out €500 to watch him play Nishakori in Rome. Then there's the lunatics who cue for hours to get into a cue to purchase tickets to Wimbledon each year. People know well players are doping, they just don't care.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, they don't care in any sport, they'd rather not know.

      Delete
    5. " I know a guy who claims he can't stand Djokovic" -- which makes him like 99% of the rest of the tennis world. Smug cheaters are the worst, eh "Dopervic?"

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  31. I wonder what is behind Sam Stosur's latest French Open run. She looks the size of a heavy weight boxer again.

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    Replies
    1. Popeye Stosur is in the semis, but will likely get blown away by Muguruza.

      Delete
  32. WTA's CEO Steve Simon on a player awaiting sentencing after having taken PEDs to gain an unfair advantage over competitors:

    “Clearly we miss any top player when they are not there and Maria is one and we’ve missed her,” Simon said of Sharapova’s absence since the Australian Open. “Unfortunately, sports is an unforgiving world. The world moves on and the next players come who fans are going to embrace. I would love to see her come back and play.”

    “I think Maria deserves a lot of credit for coming forward the way that she did. She showed the integrity she has both as an athlete and as a person,” Simon said. “That being said, no athlete is above the rules, I don’t care who you are. … Whatever that process determines her penalties will be, we will support. I hope when those penalties are served that Maria will come back and play and finish her career the way that I know she would like to finish it.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/tennis/french/2016/05/30/ceo-looks-future-wta-beyond-williams-sisters-sharapova/85151812/

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    Replies
    1. Sharapova deserves credit... WTF! She was caught breaking the rules and then went on a PR offensive to spin the story in her favour. She is cynical to the core..... none of the other players like her and many fans practically hate her guts.

      Sadly I get the feeling she is going to get off with a slap on the wrist, probably be back playing in no time.

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    2. Maria showed integrity? By cheating? LOL. She only came forward to minimize damage when she realized it would come out.

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    4. Utterly atypical of the downplaying attitude to doping within tennis. Reminds me of when the Eurosport commentators keep referring to current/ex road cyclists who have served a drugs ban as having been on the 'naughty step'.

      Hard to tell in this case if mouthbreather extraordinaire Steve Simon is indeed a soft touch on doping, or if Shriekapova is just too pretty to be treated like the doper she is. Either way, we'll never get true fairness in this sport whilst cretins like him operate on the tour.

      All credit to Maria's PR team; they've managed to take a proven drugs cheat and almost transform her into a victim. But then again, she isn't likely to give up on her £20m per year endorsements without a fight!

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    5. "We've missed her." Speak for yourself Simon you prick. I haven't missed that greedy, shrieking harridan for one second.

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  33. I really suspect the Wawrinka has cycled up nicely for this French defense. He's hitting bombs again. And Nishikori the king of cycling up too. Cycles then fades away for a few months then BAM!!!!

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    1. Well Stan's looking pretty strong in my opinion. Let's wait and see what happens rest of the tournament. He's probably the pick to beat Murray in the semi and set up another showdown with Djokovic. I don't think 3 matches in 3 days or whatever Novak will have to play will make any different to his "fitness" and "recovery" in the slightest.

      As for Nishikori, he has been using the egg-machine (Djokovic style) for a couple of years now. But he did lose to Gasquet...??

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    2. Yeah. Mr Wawrinka hitting bombs on a clay court which we know is near impossible. Nishikori hitting professionals twice his size off the court. Unreal no? Nishikori is like what 130 1bs?

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    3. But Nishikori lost to Gasquet (which in itself is a shocker) so I wouldn't say his form is unusual for him. But he is very injury-prone. I doubt he'll win a major.

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    4. Sam Stosur has bigger biceps than any of the men. She's been eating her spinach -- looking strong.

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    5. Nishikori is a moody fucker and looks like he knows he's cheating.

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  34. Raffer has now pulled out of Queens, according to ITV's FO coverage.

    Is intriguing, no?

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    1. Like I said, he won't play Wimbledon and most likely will withdraw from Rio. Why doesn't he just retire already? He withdraws from more tournaments than he plays.

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    2. I agree, no way he plays Wimbledon, I can't see it happening at all. I don't think he plays the Olympics either. I'm also fairly certain his wrist isn't about to explode, lol--the guy is a pathological liar running out of body parts to be injured (yet, he never has had surgery, save an appendectomy--allegedly).

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    3. He's cycling down now..and I guess doesn't want to lose in his mortal form; much like last year when he was mortal.

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    5. Wouldn't it be more suspicious if he *didn't* pull out of Queens? Really, I'm not saying Rafa is clean, but you Federites only care about Nadal--he can't win with them, whatever he does--not about steroid use in tennis, which hurts the cred of this blog. I think you'd better worry more about Dopervic, because he's going to pass both Rafa and Roger at the rate he's going.....

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    6. @GutterDandy

      At no point on this blog have I ever expressed that Federer cannot be doping. I personally think suspicion is cast on all top 50 players, to varying degrees. The sort of person who even uses the term 'Federite' suggests offence taken at the commentary on Nadal; or perhaps a butthurt Nadal fanboy just exchanging tit for tat with no real interest in the topic at hand.

      We are talking about Nadal in this mini-thread, not Federer. Feel free to start a post on all the suspicious activity, withdrawals, alleged injuries and inconsistencies Federer has displayed throughout his career.

      As for Djokervic, he too is a highly suspicious individual. Your comment about him 'passing Roger and Rafa' is immaterial - anyone who generates suspicious behaviour should be called out, irrespective of who is beating who.

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    7. This blog did stop the underlying Nadal-bashing for awhile, but it is backsliding lately for reasons I can't understand. It's been obvious to many that for a certain period, this blog was populated by overwrought Roger fans whining when it looked like Nadal was closing in. Now, however, it very much looks like Nadal is finished or close to it. It doesn't look that way where Djoker is concerned though. He's the poster boy for cheating in tennis if one follows his story from his beating by Nadal at the USO followed by the "gluten" story, the mysterious vanishing doctor, the changing stories and then refusal to address the topic(s), onwards to his domination of the sport.

      I guess old habits are hard to kick. Personally I think someone will at some point discard Omerta and write a book similar to Jose Canseco did about baseball, a book which was ridiculed and scoffed at by everyone in the sport with an interest in the status quo remaining the status quo, but which will eventually be proven the truth about "the steroid era" in tennis, as Canseco's was in baseball.

      There will likely eventually be asterisks besides names like Nadal, Williams (S&V), Djoker, Murray and yes, maybe even Federer, to name a few, in the record books when the dust finally settles. Tennis as it is now is a sham.

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    8. @GutterDandy

      I do agree with much of the above, particularly the last paragraph. Similar to the unofficial 'asterisk' applied to women's athletics world records; all clearly set during that sport's high times of drug use.

      Amd yes, tennis is a sham.

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  35. Murray has played 18 sets to Gasquet's 13, yet, in the third set he is destroying him with some PlayStation tennis.

    This is just ridiculous.

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    1. I love Gasquet. Aside from Federer, he's the player I enjoy the most watching. He also looks like the only player on tour who has never lifted a dumbbell in his life (ok, aside from Zverev, but I'm sure it will change as he continues his rise to the top of the rankings). Anyways, I always root for the guy and hate it when sycophant reporters harp on him for not being "dedicated" like the top guys or even Ferrer...

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    2. Yes, It seems Murray has recovered well. How long where his opening rounds? Around 4 hours?

      I'm wondering though, Murray recently said that if a player plays these long and tough matches back to back, they should be looked on with suspicion. Considering his performance so far at Roland Garros does that include him? or does he mean players that only play 6 hour matches?

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    3. By the way these guys are supposed to be world class athletes, are not expected to be able to produce physical performances? Where is the line drawn, if they play a physical match that's over 3 hours, or 4, or 5?

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    4. Let's not forget two things: Murray outlasted Gasquet the two last sets HARD. And Gasquet is a frequent training buddy of Nadal. So... I think you should either stop the doping accusations altogether or expand your 'guilty circle' by including your top 20 favorites.

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    5. There may be plently of reasons to believe Murray is doping but I don't think his performance today constitutes evidence. He has had two full days of rest which is unusual in a slam so you would expect him to come back with some level of stamina. It's the five set matches two days in a row that raise flags for me. Second, in response to the comment about lifting weights, Both Sam Stosur and Serena claim they don't lift weights at all.

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    6. Gasquet is old-school -- a few lines of coke will do. Love his one-handed backhand though. Two-handers are for sissies.

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    7. I figure most top tennis players, boxers, etc., are juicing. So are some of the others, but they often get caught.....

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    8. Murray has had a gift of a draw after his five setters - Karlovic, the oldest guy in the tournament, who had a much longer five-setter and then a doubles match. An average rally length of 3 hits and then onto Isner, another servebot, who also just played a five setter and with a hampered thigh. It doesn't get much better than that, plus throw in 4 days off and then a mentalist in the shape of Gasquet. The effects of the early rounds should have worn off by now and Stan Wawrinka also play a long five setter in the first round sos should be interesting match up in the semi's.

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    9. I've never understood the amount of innocence which is pleaded in Murray's favour on this blog. To me, he is one of THE most suspicious players on the tour.

      When I watched him during the 2013 Wimbledon final, I had the same sinking feeling watching him as I did when I watched Floyd Landis cut over 7 minutes in a single stage duing the TdF in 2006. For long stretches during that final, I genuinely felt there was nowhere on court Djokovic could hit that ball without Murray getting to it.

      Recall also Murray's vocal annoyance at much of the anti-doping practices - until he became, almost overnight, a born-again adversary of the dopers. And before anyone points to his recent outspoken and implicatory views on dopers, recall Carl Lewis spent years in the late 80s campaigning against drug-taking, himself becrying 1988 as 'The Year of the Steroid' in his autobiography. Then we find out years later that Lewis himself had an adverse test covered up; albeit for small traces of stimulants. The year of this test? 1988.

      Now Murray is a clay court aficionado, after spending most of his career being nothing special on the surface. All happening at the age of 28, no less.

      Shouting out loudly against doping is no guarantee that any such vocal athlete is clean.

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    10. @Umpire Strikes Back

      "Now Murray is a clay court aficionado, after spending most of his career being nothing special on the surface. All happening at the age of 28, no less."

      Murray had a back problem which presented itself more acutely on clay. He had an operation, took best part of a season to recover, and now his back no longer troubles him on clay and he can move more freely.

      Re, Wimbledon 2013. We must have seen different matches. Djokovic looked spent after playing the longest (i think?) grass match in the modern era in the semi's and still probably would have outlasted Murray had be broken when Murray was serving for the championship.

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    11. @Northwestcircus

      I doubt the back problem manifested itself since the start of his career - I understand it was 2 years or so - meaning a good few years of his career unhindered on clay where he was nothing special. Plus, as arduous as the clay surface is, it surely isn't believable that one can still win slams on hard courts and grass courts, with requisite five-setters and yet only feel the effects of his back whilst on clay.

      And yes, we must have been watching different matches during the Wimbledon 2013 final. Djokovic's tiredness is irrelevant to the point I make about Murray's movement - Murray was like an unlocked video game character, covering the court in a manner that raised the eyebrows.

      Just my opinion on Murray. I don't expect everyone to agree.

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    12. No, your understanding is wrong. His operation was three years ago, and he missed most the clay court season that year. The back problem itself manifested at least the year before at the 2012 French Open when Virginia Wade made her infamous "Drama Queen" comment when he was getting treatment during the Nieminen match. Also worth pointing out that a few years before that he missed the whole clay court season because of a wrist injury, so all this contributed to his poor clay record.

      But was his record that poor? Prior to his back op, he had been in a semi and 2 quarter finals at Roland Garros, losing to inform players each time.

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    13. @Northwestcircus

      Nothing wrong with my understanding. Even your timeline above gives a number of years pain-free to show adeptness on clay. Never seen any before 2015.

      And please read my posts. I never said he was poor; I said he was 'nothing special'. Sure, a semi-final at RG is impressive but then again both Sampras and Henman also achieved that feat - hardly makes them great on clay, does it?

      Sounds very much like you are too emotionally invested in Murray to see any other perspective. As I stress, the above is just MY opinion. I could well be wrong.

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    14. @Umpire Strikes Back

      "Never seen any before 2015."

      How about 2011?

      Monte Carlo Masters semi (loss to Nadal in three sets) ; Rome Masters Semi (loss to Djokovic during his miracle run in three sets having had chance to serve for match) ; Roland Garros (loss in semi's to eventual Champion Nadal.)

      That's a pretty good clay season. Although not disputing he's shown a big improvement, but it at least can be explained.

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    15. @Northwestcircus

      2011 was a good year. Despite this, and all your other points about his ability on clay, I am not convinced about the integrity of a player who can suddenly start winning cc titles at the ages of 28/29, in addition to also finally getting the beating of the best cc players at that age. Again, Sampras won Rome in his time and managed many QFs and a SF at RG - but he was never in danger of beating the best on the surface.

      Besides, we are getting fixated on only one of SEVERAL points I made against Murray. Consider this: rightly or wrongly, suspicion is raised when a player demonstrates endless stamina, significant change in physique or complaints/objections to ant-doping practices; for example, Nadal, Djokovic, Errani and S. Williams. Consider that Murray has displayed all three of these traits - why therefore should he be exempt from suspicion?

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    16. Endless stamina? Over five sets, I agree he outlasts most players (although he's also higher ranked than most players and would be expected to win.) The key is recovery, and longevity over a tournament. Murray's accumulation of 1/4 and semi-finals in Grand Slams and his total of Masters titles is up there with the all-time greats, but his conversion to slam victories is feeble. In my view one reason is that he's out of gas by the end of a slam. The one exception is his US Open title, but Djokovic was probably cleanish then as it was an Olympic year and had played three straight days.

      Significant change in physique - this is a tired old troupe. Yes Murray was skinny as an 18 year old in his first Wimbledon but he grew incrementally over a number of seasons until he was about 22/23, which is a normal profile.

      Objections to anti-doping - again a tired argument with Murray. Yes he was brattish about doping control in his early twenties pre Lance Armstrong, but since then he has been the most out spoken bar none. In fact breaking the Cilic silent ban secret, recent comments on Sharapova and the not so subtle digs aimed at Nadal/Djokovic are far beyond any of his peers have done, and not exactly the actions of someone who might have something to hide. Heck in an interview with David Walsh who broke the LA story, Murray practically dared him to taken tennis.

      http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/murray-walsh-and-armstrong.html

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    17. Sorry brah - your arguments smack of downplaying.

      His failure in slam finals are not due to a sudden exhaustion. And lol - you insinuate Djoker was 'semi-clean' and tired due to an Olympic year, hemce his loss... remind me, who played further in Wimbledon/Olympics/US open AND outlasted Djokovic in the UO final? Oh yeah!

      Like I pointed out in the my first post on this mini-thread, sport has several examples of athletes daring the establishment to investigate - only to be revealed as dopers too. Armstrong testified on oath to his innocence, ffs. And, since Murray's sudden reversal of stance on the doping issue, I'd argue that other players have said more constructive things on the anti-doping issue, such as Federer (don't twist that as me being a Fed fan; I'm not)

      And what you consider 'tired out tropes', many others consider valid observations; especially when it comes to other players.

      Any particular reason that you are so passionate about defending Murray? When he shares so many similar traits to the most suspicious of players, how can you totally disregard any possibility that he is involved? Surely you can acknowledge there is enough substance to consider it feasible?

      You think Murray is the second coming; I think he exhibits or has exhibited many of the shared warning signs with Djokovic or Nadal. Suggest we agree to disagree.

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    18. @Umpire Strikes Back

      "And lol - you insinuate Djoker was 'semi-clean' and tired due to an Olympic year, hemce his loss... remind me, who played further in Wimbledon/Olympics/US open AND outlasted Djokovic in the UO final? Oh yeah!"

      Yes, that was my point. Murray was able to capitalise the season his main rival toned down on the doping. This is Olympic year as well, so maybe he'll have an opportunity to bag another slam. Or if you're implying that Murray's run from Wimbledon to US Open final was longer that Djokovic's I would remind you that Murray played only one more game at Wimbledon ( the final); the same amount at Olympics (Djokovic had to play bronze medal match). But whereas Murray tanked in the two Hardcourt Masters in the run up to the US Open, Djokovic reached the final of both.

      I don't think Murray is the second coming, and its certainly possible he is a doper too, but I confess I would be a little surprised if he was. And my reason for defending him is that I think Nadal and especially Djokovic have stolen what could have been one of the great careers and ruined a potentially more competitive and interesting era.

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    19. @UmpireStrikesBack and @Northwestcircus

      Murray hasn't made the final yet. He's still just at the SF stage, where he has been before. I don't think he'll beat Wawrinka in which case all this arguing about him being great on clay is just a waste of time. Although, yes, he has definitely improved. He did win Rome, beating the unbeatable world no. 1 in the process but he has won other clay titles before (including Madrid '15 beating Nadal). I'll admit, if he were to win RG I would be shocked. But really, nothing much shocks me anymore where professional tennis is concerned.

      And as for Nadal, he has done this before. In 2012, which was an Olympic year, he lost to Rosol, of all people, at Wimbledon and then withdrew from the rest of the season with some injury (can't remember what it was now because he's had so many, it's hard to keep track). And surprise, surprise, it's happened again. Any coincidence that it's an Olympic year? Well I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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    20. And furthermore, if Djokovic, who is pretty close to being unbeatable, doesn't win gold at the Olympics, or I should say, doesn't medal at all (a la 2012) then I would be very suspicious that he has stopped doping in order to compete and not test positive. There is no way a guy with his w/l record and the way he is playing this year goes to the Olympics and comes home empty-handed. Honestly how did that happen in 2012 when he had almost a record year in 2011 (a 70/6 w/l record and 10 titles)? Was he burnt out or was he out of dope? And then after the Olympics he did pretty good: W Canada, L in the final of Cincy, L in the final of the USO, W Beijing, W Shanghai, and Won the WTF. So he won the AO and Miami and then didn't win another title till after the Olympics and went on to win 4 of his 6 titles post-Olympics. Maybe it's all a coincidence. It will be interesting to see how he performs this year. If he wins RG and Wimbledon he will want that Golden Slam. I'll be watching him closely.

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    21. Especially given that the Olympics is on hard court this year.

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  36. Probably shouldn't say this but I don't really care if Gasquet did do coke... coke is hardly going to enhance his performance on the tennis court.

    Then again I think there is an argument for just making PEDs LEGAL and then every athlete can juice up to their heart is content and at least we will all know we are witnessing 'enhanced' performances.

    Sam Stosur is looking absolutely ripped again. I think she may be favourite for the tournament as she appears to be in better shape than Serena.

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    1. I don't care that Gasquet did coke -- hell, Vitas Gerulaitus was the Blow King. Johnny Mac and the boys all used to score from Vitas, RIP. But Gasquet's excuse was HILARIOUS. The dog ate my homework!

      Since Stosur says she never lifts weights, has she ever explained how she developed the Popeye sized biceps? Australian spinach?

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    3. @yenool

      "Then again I think there is an argument for just making PEDs LEGAL and then every athlete can juice up to their heart is content"

      You've really not thought that through at all... First, unlimited doping has serious health implications for the athletes. Kids, who don't know any better, or have no choice, will be forced to take all kinds of sh1t as they go through their country's regime. And what about, the athletes who don't want to dope? Where do they compete?

      Second, the only way to stop countries pumping horse steroids into their athletes until their hearts explode, would be to impose limits on doping and restrict certain drugs. As soon as who have rules and limits, then the opportunity to cheat arises, and your back to square one.

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    4. Is Stosur even a woman? From afar, if she wasn't wearing a skirt, one could mistake her for a man with her physique and voice when she grunts.

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  37. Good to see Ferrer exit, at least. Berdych is one of the few players I genuinely believe to be clean (famous last words!)

    And regarding the topic at hand, where's Cilic these days?

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    1. Cilic, ha ha ha. Don't get me started on that curious case. lol...one hit wonder. I figure he just wanted the easy million prize money then quit the dope.

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    2. Out in the first round of 2016 RG... I actually didn't realise Cilic was in the tournament.

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    3. Berdych -- you ever see the legs on that dude? He must spend all his time doing leg presses when he's not on the court. He's been able to stay just under the the most suspected characters -- maybe he's just a head case who can't win the big one no matter how "strong" he gets.

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    4. @GutterDandy - will need more evidence than 'big legs'.

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    5. I agree. Big legs is the weakest of arguments.

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  38. Re Murray - 2012 - Olympic Year

    Nadal, nowhere to be seen. Djokovic went out in the Wimbledon Semi to the eventual winner Federer, and in the Olympic Semi to the eventual winner Murray, I do not think it's any coincidence, that the year when you might have expected dope testing to be up a notch because of the Olympics, the Wimbledon Final and The Olympic Final were contested by the same two players. Both of them undoubtedly clean.

    As for Wimbledon 2013 Djokovic was neutralised to a degree by the brutal 5 set semi against Del Potro.

    By and large Murray's big wins have been against knackered players. Del Potro also neutralised Federer in The Olympic Semi as well.

    The might all be at it, but much as I dislike Federer if he is doping I think it's much more recent. Murray I think is clean for the above reasons.


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    1. Dream on.

      http://www.tennisnow.com/Blogs/NET-POSTS/June-2016-/Murray-and-Gasquet-Play-an-Electrifying-Rally.aspx

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    2. Don't see much of a difference between the physicality of Murray and Djokovic honestly. Djokovic wins because he has better first strike options, better second serve and is more efficient with his movement.

      To me, there are likely to be doping on the same level.

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  39. On the topic of silent bans, it has always intrigued me whether Robin Soderling was ever at the recieving end of one. His lengthy absence and subsequent retirement was rather odd. Attributed to mononucleosis - but I'm not wholly convinced.

    In the rare and highly unlikely event that the ITF declare previous unannounced bans and suspensions, his would be one of the first names I would be looking for.

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