Does Tennis Have a Doping Problem?
A couple of days ago I received a comment on the blog with regards to doping in tennis. It was very interesting and a couple of replies later I was pointed towards a site that has gone into a tremendous amount of depth about tennis, the drug testing procedures, players who have tested positive and all the various cases and media articles that could effect the integrity of the sport.
You can see that site here: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.co.uk/ (opens in a new window)
Doping is something that’s been mentioned here in passing a couple of times but I’ve never really considered dedicating an entire post to it mainly due to lack of concrete evidence but also just due to lack of my understanding on how the the ITF operates and how the WADA Prohibited Substances system works.
Now I’ve done a bit of research and seen how crazy the whole Lance Armstrong doping scandal was; that’s all about to change as I’ve decided to take a look at whether or not tennis has a doping problem in more detail.
I think posing the question is both interesting for you guys and also, perhaps somewhat naively, I figure the more people that bring it up, the more likely the testing procedures and frequencies will change for the better.
An Incredibly Flawed Drug Testing System
If you hadn’t already figured from my closing sentence above about changing the system it’s pretty obvious I think the whole system for detecting drug offenders in the game of tennis is pretty lax. If anything, it’s flawed from the ground up and clearly doesn’t work as nobody is getting caught.
To give you guys an idea of how it works, in 2011 there were 2,150 anti doping tests carried out, only 131 of those were blood tests and only 21 were out of competition.
On the surface, you might think those numbers are high, but when I tell you that urine tests, of which make up 94% of the overall tests carried out, can’t detect drugs like HGH (human growth hormone) which was used by Lance Armstrong then alarm bells should start to ring. Why are the vast majority of tests carried out, the ones that aren’t capable of finding the drugs most likely to be in use?
There are also rumours that even when they take a urine sample they tell the laboratory to not analyse it for everything to cut costs and speed up the process. That’s not right and we now know that EPO, which was also used by Armstrong, wasn’t being tested for to keep the costs down. Scandalous.
If many of the doping methods Armstrong used are not detectable by urine tests, and doctors and players know this, then it doesn’t take a genius to work out which type of drugs you’d use if you wanted to cheat and not get caught.
The second flaw boils down to budgets and where money gets spent. You’d think considering how Armstrong has ruined the reputation of cycling that Anti Doping would be high on the agenda with a large percentage of the overall ITF budget going towards it. Wrong. In 2012 the anti-doping budget was $US1.8 million and at the end of the financial year there was a $US300,000 underspend. It already seems low to me, yet there’s cash left over?
Most organisations I know can’t wait to blow their entire marketing budget before the year’s out, in fact if there’s anything left in the pot they’re usually scrabbling round looking for ways to spend it quickly. Why is something as important as anti doping coming in under budget?
Even more alarmingly between the grand slams, the ATP Tour, WTA Tour and ITF circuits, tennis pays out at least $300 million in prize money per annum, why is anti doping so much less?
It gets worse when you consider that blood testing has decreased by 33% since 2006, you’d have to assume that funds are tight and they can’t afford more blood tests. But on the evidence above that’s clearly not the case as tennis is bigger than ever.
Others flaws include that currently there is no system in place for blood-testing winners and a loser’s sample will not be specifically tested for blood-doping unless the authorities request it — which from what we know, rarely happens. After all, only a week ago Novak Djokovic revealed he hadn’t had a blood test in over 6 months. Pretty alarming really, I would have thought after he talked about doping in the press and was criticised for using his Egg or CVAC chamber, he would be getting tested more and more frequently.
Out of competition blood testing is almost non existent, and that basically means players can freely use HGH with no fear of getting caught. All they need to do is stop using it close to the competition and as far as doping tests go they’re as clean as a whistle.
Is the ITF running under a conflict of interest?
As far as I can tell the ITF is in exactly the same boat as the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) as they are charged with both promoting the sport and keeping it clean. Those things don’t go well together in my opinion. It’s a clear conflict of interest.
I liken this whole thing to Politics, it’s all spin and what is said to the mainstream tennis fans is a million miles away from what actually happens behind closed doors.
When you read some of the quotes that Dr Stuart Miller (Executive Director of the ITF’s Science and Technical Department, who basically administers the anti doping program) has come out with over the years in various interviews you have to wonder what on earth he’s talking about, here are a select few:
You normally see that in sports where you are trying to maximize some element of physiological performance, like strength, power, stamina, speed…They’re [tennis players] good at all of those things…But they’re not trying to maximize those things.
2009, New York Times.
In tennis there’s nothing that you’re maximizing particularly. I stand by the notion that tennis is not obviously lending itself to a particular category of performance-enhancing products.
2012, International Tennis Magazine.
When questioned by BBC correspondent Jonathan Overend in 2007 on whether he thought tennis was clean he said:
You would have to draw that conclusion. It would be naive to think we catch every person who is engaged in doping; however, based on the principles that we’re operating within the programme, the record in 2006 is certainly indicative of a clean sport. And you need a comprehensive test programme to demonstrate whether you have a clean sport or not.
From his quotes above, it’s clear that Dr Stuart Miller to me is just the PR spokesperson for the ITF. He’s just happy taking home his tidy salary for doing little to no work and toeing the party line as it were; saying exactly what the ITF want him to say. Fair enough, he has mouths to feed most likely, but in terms of integrity, I’d guess he’s pretty low.
If you ever needed proof that tennis organisations are similar to politics, then there you have it. Those guys answers don’t fill anyone with confidence. And you have to ask, why is this guy even giving out interviews? His role is to catch players doping, at least that’s what we’re lead to believe, so why isn’t he out there doing his job?
What kind of executive in charge of anti doping would assume the sport is clean based on his own views on tennis players not needing to improve in the areas that drugs help?
Whilst he’s out spouting his (the ITF’s mandate) theories about the sport being clean, it’s pretty obvious that high level Doctors and doping rings will be out there coming up with even more sophisticated methods to beat the already poor testing systems.
Yet again, he’s a guy in a high ranking position that’s purely employed to pump out the message that the top dogs at at the ITF want out there.
What do you think? Is Miller / the ITF inept? Or are they deliberately trying not to catch players doping? Looking at the Armstrong case, and how the world runs these days, I’d side with the latter.
Could the ITF be covering it up?
As I suggested above there’s a conflict of interests when it comes to drug testing. Money is at stake. So could doping offences be covered up? Silent bans, “missing” samples are just a few things that spring to mind.
Currently the system has a couple of loopholes, that’s because the WADA code allows signatories to decide whether or not to announce provisional suspensions, which occur after an “A” sample is confirmed as positive. The minute you start giving organisation leeway on things like that, things go wrong, and the truth is often obscured from public view. Why is that even allowed?
Another statistic that reeks of cover is up that the ITF has reported 53 positive tests but only 21 Anti-Doping Rule Violations since 2007. That’s less than 50%. We have no idea with regards to what goes on during tribunal hearings. How can those numbers be justified if we never hear the true events? The ITF will argue many of them fall under Therapeutic Usage Exemptions but we are none the wiser as to what actually happened.
The fact a player can miss two out-of-competition tests within an 18-month period also worries me. Ok, if the testing teams are smart they would schedule the tests within a week of each other and if you miss them you’re under scrutiny but from what I can tell, they don’t do it like that.
For my money there’s too much internal politics within the ITF and the ATP that prevents anti doping teams to run smoothly and do their job properly. The anti doping area of the ITF is just 1 department that will clearly have excessive control and influence exerted over them by the powers that be, i.e. the ones who pay their wages.
The fact that they use a method of only testing losing players in Grand Slams all seems a bit strange. That along with all the over various goings on that don’t often make logical sense for a department who’s aim is to catch offenders.
Like I said above, it’s almost like they don’t want to catch people doping. The Armstrong fiasco has brought doping to the fore, but it’s also shown us how badly it can impact a sport. I’d guess that now Sporting Governing Bodies are wanting to keep the lid on something like this more so than ever before.
What do the Ex-Players think?
Not many ex players seem too happy to talk about doping publicy from what I’ve found; they either seem to be adamant it happened, or convinced that the sport is clean. There’s absolutely no middle ground here.
Guys like Yannick Noah are convinced doping is ripe in tennis, in his Le Monde article he branded all Spanish athletes dopers:
Today sport is a little like Asterix in the Olympic Games: if you don’t have the magic potion, it is difficult to win. And it seems, like Obelix, they were the lucky ones who fell in the pot. How can a nation dominate all sports overnight?
A sweeping statement maybe but when you hear about the case against Spanish Doctor Luis García del Moral who was part of the Armstrong doping ring also admitted to helping tennis players it’s not that unrealistic a claim.
Guy Forget also claims he played against rivals who took drugs in the 80’s and 90’s:
I have lost matches against guys who beat me with an unfair advantage because they were taking drugs.
For sure, it has happened. I can look at myself in the mirror knowing I have never taken anything. When I played there were no controls at all so why wouldn’t you cheat the system.
On the other hand, 14 time Grand Slam Champion Pete Sampras doesn’t think it’s a problem:
I think tennis is a clean sport. There have been a handful of players – just a few – who have tested positive, but I believe they have just been exceptions. I just don’t think tennis players will go down that road of trying to get an edge, as it’s not in the culture. It was in the culture of cycling, and Lance Armstrong went along with that, but I just don’t see tennis players doing that. It’s not in their nature trying to get an edge that way. Arsmtrong has disappointed a lot of people and let a lot of people down. I thought he did as well as he could during the interview.
And Martina Navritilova shares his thoughts too:
There is very stringent drug testing going on and it has to be done, because there obviously has been some cheating going on as a few people have been caught. But overall, I think we have a pretty clean sport. You know that Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or any of those guys wouldn’t do anything like what Lance Armstrong was doing. I think tennis is doing a pretty good job, at least from what I see.
As far as I’m concerned ex players aren’t the best people to ask, many of them have media careers that prevent them really saying what they think. And many of them simply won’t want to get involved in the debate, they may have links to dodgy Doctors or they may have friends on tour who they know tried doping. It’s a whole can of worms this one.
What do the Current Players think?
Roger and Novak seem to be pro more testing, whereas Nadal is against out of comeptition testing, take from that what you will, and Murray doesn’t have a clear stance. Murray has moaned about testing being intrusive, then said he wants more blood test along with with Biological Passports, he is hard to weigh up.
Here’s what Federer has to say:
I feel I’m being less tested this time now than six, seven, eight years ago,” the Swiss told a news conference at London’s O2 Arena. I don’t know the exact reasons why we are being tested less and at this moment I agree with Andy, we don’t do a lot of blood testing during the year.
I think it’s important to have enough tests. I don’t like it when I’m only getting tested whatever number it is, which I don’t think is enough or sufficient during the year so I think we should up it a little bit or a lot.
Djokovic admitted at this years Australian Open the following:
I wasn’t tested with blood for last six, seven months, it was more regularly in last two, three years ago. I don’t know the reason why they stopped it.
Nadal however, when asked about the tests in 2009 said the following:
It’s not fair to have persecution like that. They make you feel like a criminal. Not even my mother knows where I am every day. I am the first one who wants fair competition, completely clean competition for everybody.
And whilst Murray has called the drug testing policies Draconian and intrusive his latest comments have suggested he wants more testing in the off season:
The out-of-competition stuff could probably get better, when we’re in December, when people are training and setting their bases, it would be good to do more around that time.
With most of the players wanting more anti doping measures in place, it’d be interesting to see if they could club together and get some change. Whether that means donating prize money to dedicate to more testing, or a boycott of a tournament or event to create reform I don’t know.
When you consider Ru-an’s Federer Blog wrote about doping back in 2010 and all of his concerns are still valid two years on, you appreciate just how reluctant these organisations are to changing their testing methods.
I suppose history shows you only get change when there’s a large number of people willing to do something about it. Be it an uprising, or boycott, the players have to demand change if they are serious about cleaning up the sport.
If there was a mass exodus that would hugely effect the guys who run the sports ability to make money, to the point where they would be forced to stand up and take notice.
How would I prevent / catch doping in tennis?
Well, to begin with, I’d overhaul the current setup and scrap the current ITF anti doping procedures. It’s clear they’re ineffective and there is no real out and out reason for them to find dopers. On the surface it looks like the anti doping measures are only in place because they have to be there, not because they have a genuine and valued role.
It needs to be setup by an organisation that actually has it in their interests to find drug users. Whether there is some kind of reward (have to be careful of wrongful convictions) or bonuses for proven cases I’m not sure but the only way the testing will get more rigorous is if there is a strong monetary incentive to test more and more. It’d also mean the best doctors were anti doping rather than pro doping; meaning they could develop testing methods to keep up with the Doctors who are developing ways to beat the system.
At the moment I feel like there are more rewards to be had for the Doctors finding new methods of doping and the players who want to. It’s almost as if the benefits of doping far outweigh the negatives as there’s little chance of being caught. Kinda mind boggling really.
It’d have to be the case that the new measures ensure that a compulsory percentage of all tests taken have to be blood tests. As we’ve seen there’s a trend emerging that blood tests are becoming more and more infrequent. That needs to change. Some are arguing it’s too expensive, but as we know from above their was an under spend in previous years so that argument doesn’t hold true.
I’d also like to see some of the players do more about it, if they’re as committed to keeping the sport clean as they say they are, that shouldn’t be a problem.
I suppose I should also say “how I’d prevent doping” as I alluded to in the title. To be honest I don’t think preventing doping is feasible, there will always be someone out there looking to bend the rules for financial gain.
Doctors can be an odd bunch, they set out for careers in helping people, yet look at how many turn to handing out shocking cosmetic treatments and surgeries that often make peoples lives worse just because they can make more money doing it. There will always be Doctors out there who help athletes dope and there will always be athletes willing to risk doping. It’s just an open market really.
As I’ve found from reading around, the current ITF doping program has significant limitations. Because of that and the fact there’s some extremely clever Doctors capable of running doping rings it’s almost impossible to prove or disprove the existence of systematic doping in tennis.
I’m personally pretty cynical when it comes to things to like this so my stance is clear; I think doping happens. But I think even the people who are out and out lovers of tennis who turn a blind eye to most things have to be pretty skeptical on whether the sport is totally clean or not.
When you read how the ITF operates, and look back at how they have handled past cases such as the Wayne “substantial assistance” Odesnik (He pleaded guilty and the ITF deferred the second half of the American’s two-year suspension.) you surely have to raise some questions.
In a way it’s kinda sad the whole Lance Armstrong thing brought up doping in tennis but that case just proves it can and does happen.
So what do you think? Are tennis players so different from the cyclists, footballers, baseball players and Track and Field stars that have considered performance enhancing drugs to be a risk worth taking?
In my innocence, I had never given doping in tennis any serious thought until the whole Lance Armstrong situation unfolded. Now it’s clear that action needs to be taken. If the players are in favour of the sport being clean, then they should act. It’s the players who it is going to affect and they need to make themselves heard. I imagine that the likes of the big four have enough power to do something about it and it’s those players that need to lead the way. I have to say that I do think doping happens, but to what extent remains an absolute mystery. There’s no two ways about it- they need to improve the whole anti-doping programme and start testing everyone and conduct regular testing. There’s no reason why anyone who is competing with an unfair advantage due to doping should be allowed get away with it.
Yeah me too kinda, I had heard people mention it but never given a lot of thought either.
I think it’s inevitable there’s some going on though. Just seems too easy to get away with it that the risks aren’t really that high…
Hmm thought provoking stuff. Ask me two years ago and I would have said, rather naively it seems, that no way there is doping in tennis. I think it’s also quite important to take into account the possible benefits to risks ratio of doping in tennis. Unlike cycling and track where endurance and explosive muscle mass gained through training is everything, in tennis it’s not the be all and end all of the sport. If someone in the top 50 was doping you’d think ok he might pull through in a five setter every now and then but other than that actual tennis ability can’t change that much surely, at least not enough to warrant taking the risk, however small, of getting caught. To me I think doping in tennis can’t be widespread for this reason but then if testing is as bad as you say then maybe not…
On a side note,
If anyone’s doping its definitely djokovic, average until 2011 where suddenly he goes on the most ridonkulous winning streak cus he realised he was gluten intolerant. Sure mate. Gluten yeah?
Not to mention rosol…
For the record I don’t think either are doping just saying though!
I disagree man, doping is one of those things that can take you up a notch – if you can track down more balls, or add a few mph onto your serve you become a better player. Doesn’t matter if you’re 10 in the world or 400. It’s still helping you out.
That comment by Rafa was after he was called off his boat to be drug tested because he hadn’t alerted them that he wouldn’t be home, not because he uses drugs in the off season. In fact Rafa is the ONLY one of the Big 3 that wants more drug testing and all the results to be made public every single time.
And yes, I would agree with you, if anyone is doping – it is definitely Djokovic. Before this “gluten free diet”, he couldn’t go a match without retiring owing to a whole host of reasons, the most popular ones being sunstroke and heat exhaustion or fatiguw. Now all of a sudden he is the Marathon Man.
Also, further suspicion is that after Sharapova was caught with banned substances, suddenly he couldn’t paly and certainly didn’t win anything. Marian Vajda comes back to his coaching team and within a few weeks, he is suddenly winning again? Marain Vajda obviously sourced some new Vajdamins for him now that the Meldonium was banned
It would be highly naive to say that doping in tennis does not exist.Im pretty convinced Nadal is a doper.Djokovic is certainly a doper though he does it legally.See this: http://www.dropshotdispatch.com/2011/10/13/djokovics-cvac-conundrum-djokovics-controversial-training-method-examined/ WADA thinks its against the spirit of sport but they havent banned it yet.Djokovic admitted he used the machine(and most probably still does).The gluten free diet is the official reason given for Novak’s rise but this is the reality.That explains how Djokovic is able to sustain himself for long matches back to back without getting exhausted(like in AO 2012) . As for Rafa THASP makes a pretty good case: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.in/2011/02/curious-case-of-rafael-nadal.html . I think Federer is clean though as i remember him making a comment a couple of years ago(not sure when) that samples of athletes must be preserved and tested with the advanced doping tech that comes out.No one who’s doping would say that.Nadal interestingly made a comment recently that he thought the drug testing policy was too restrictive.
Arun, thanks for pointing that out relative to Djokovic and the links to his Egg. Glad someone else thinks this is not only highly suspect but clearly wrong. See my comments below.
Hi Kathleen,i read your comment.I am completely in agreement with you when you say that ITF knows about this and is turning a blind eye.It is frustrating that WADA hasnt banned the substance yet.To me,any substance that gives an unfair advantage to a player must be banned.Djokovic admitting to using the substance was basically a confession of his doping.It is quite a sensitive issue for Novak fans.They know they cant defend him since he admitted to using it.What im curious to know is whether he knows people in Australia,the UK and France(where the other slams are held)who have a machine like Gordon Uehling in the US.My guess is that he does.Like you i find it infuriating that the concerned bodies are fully aware of this and arent doing anything.But the best thing we can do is spread the truth and make more fans aware of this.They have a right to know.By the way,i found something else reg. Novak that may be of interest to you: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.in/2011/10/djokovic-dr-igor-and-william-nelson.html seems like he uses stuff apart from the CVAC too.
Top 20players should be tester before and. After tournaments. They should also pay for it since they make enough. Make the penalties hurt. Stop making excuses not to.
Cheers for the links. Interesting reading.
As for who is doping, who knows. Hard to throw round accusations without anything concrete. Some players are perhaps more suspicious than others. But innocent till proven guilty is how it has to be.
Interesting post. I’m curious, what do you think, why would anyone use EPO when you can use CVAC and obtain the same results apparently without the risks? And to be fair, Novak said that he only tried out this machine in 2010, he denies that he’s using it as a part of his recovery process.
Not sure really, I don’t know which one has more benefits. But I’d say EPO has more of an immediate effect, anything that goes straight into the body surely has to.
I think in every sport, there are athletes that use PEDs to try to get ahead, and tennis is no exception. However, I don’t think the sport has a doping problem widespread. Sure, I’m positive there are those that use them, but I don’t think the sport has a big problem with usage like in baseball or cycling.
I think you are wrong. I think doping in tennis is widespread and that the majority of top players use something.
There’s no evidence to say there is widespread doping. But at the same time, the testing procedures are weak so there’s no evidence to say there isn’t. It needs further clarification I think..
Good timing with your post, as the ‘Operación Puerto’ trial started in Madrid two days ago with the Spanish doping doctor Fuentes involved. (In 2006 the police raided several of Fuentes’ residences and found around 200 bags of blood belonging to athletes – most of these have never been identified).
Apparently “only” 56 of the 200 names on Fuentes’ list were cyclists. He has admitted that he also was working with tennis players, track and field athletes, rowers, swimmers and some of the biggest names in Spanish football. But these names seem to remain protected, which is ridiculous. In court today, Fuentes said he could identify all names/codes, but for some reason the judge didn’t want him to (http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/01/news/puerto-judge-does-not-press-for-fuentes-client-names_273103). It’s only natural to think it’s a cover-up and there are big names involved.
So the trial will only focus on the cyclists as evidence and because Spain didn’t have an anti-doping law back in 2006, this is more a trial/case about public health and whether Fuentes was putting athletes’ lives at risk or not. It’s a joke.
WADA wants the names of all athletes involved, but unfortunately the Spanish authorities are not willing to cooperate.
As for doping in tennis, yeah it’s naive to think it doesn’t happen especially in today’s physical game. It’s clearly a conflict of interest and I’m afraid you’re right about ITF not wanting to catch players doping. We definitely need a better testing regime, but I also think we’re dependent on top players to require things to be done.
Been reading up on that case. All very shady. Like you said, clearly a cover up protecting some of the big names that are at the forefront of the sport.
About time a good investigative journalists got involved and found out the truth. Rather than them just churning out the same old stories.
A anti-doping policy and testing procedure is only good if it is current (medically and methodologically), comprehensive and fair. ITF may be a good “home” for the program but some level of independence and objectivity must be maintained for credibility. That said there is no reason to recreate the wheel, the ITF could exam other sports and their programs to inform the tennis program and its governance. To say it is not happening or not wide spread is to be living in make believe world this day and age; tennis has to prove itself to be a clean sport not just state that it believes itself to be so.
Player input as to when to test and how often can be added to the process of coming up with a new policy but it is a bit too much like the inmates running the prison if they are allowed too much influence in the new policy.
Science changes, cheating happens and becomes more creative. Tennis needs to be current or ahead of the curve/progressive in its Anti-Doping stance and testing policies to keep the fans base it has and to gather more.
Which sports could tennis copy? I don’t think any of them have their own house in order. So to copy them wouldn’t really help as they all suffer from the same flaws.
While I think that doping is probably less prevalent in tennis than other sports, I do believe it does exist and in different forms. You always keep hearing about the use of steroids as it relates to doping but thanks to the confession of Lance Armstrong, we find there are many other ways of “doping” which are not so easily detected. There has always been talk of the use of steroids and Nadal but little else and that was just conjecture. I agree with the above statements relative to the complete turnaround of Djoker’s game in 2011. It was very puzzling indeed and certainly that kind of change and “superpower” and stamina never shown before was impossible to believe it was a gluten-free diet! Really? Since all the information from Lance on the use of EPO and the reoxygenation of red blood cells for recovery purposes, now finally people are learning that using his “Egg” (a smaller version of the large hyperbaric oxygen chamber), is like using EPO, just more expensive, what will happen? Is it harder to detect? Don’t know, maybe. However, it was Nole that admitted the use of his Egg (now saying he isn’t using it; right) until it started to be questioned. I believe he was simply unaware of it really being “doping” so now it’s all not spoken of again. I haven’t stopped harping on this since his admission and the “new & improved” Djokevic” in the 2011 season and finally now people are becoming educated as to what power and advantages these chambers give to an athlete needing to recover from matches. He certainly has not had any burns or “The Bends” to justify its use (what it was invented for) other than for performance enhancing. The ITF certainly knew about this but chose to turn a blind eye. Now that people understand the that these chambers are no different than using EPO (doping), just more expensive & perhaps harder to detect, will they now ban it? IMO Nole should lose his 2011 trophies but that won’t happen because of the mark it would make on tennis per se but isn’t it worse to have it documented and still do nothing? Yes, more testing does need to be done in all aspects of performance enhancing modalities. Maybe Roger Federer, as President of Player’s Council, can press this issue esp. since Rafa has resigned his post as VP. We as tennis fans want fair play for sure so something needs to be done.
Responded to your comment above
Haha stripping Djokovic of his titles? You’re taking no prisoners on this one. I have read about the egg chamber, but it’s legal in the sport, so not sure he has really committed any crime… he just chose to use it. I bet a lot of sports men and women have had a go in one.
I guess the only thing you can say is, it goes against the spirit of the sport. If anything the ITF, should have been on the ball, and outlawed it before anyone had the chance to use it. So I think they are more at fault than the player here.
The issue with CVAC is that in order to be banned a substance or method must meet two of the following three criteria: (1) Medical evidence shows that it has the potential to improve performance, (2) Medical evidence shows that is represents “an actual or potential health risk”, and (3) violates the “spirit of sport described in the Introduction to the Code.” http://www.wada-ama.org/Documents/World_Anti-Doping_Program/WADP-The-Code/WADA_Anti-Doping_CODE_2009_EN.pdf
EPO is banned because (1) it provides performance improvement and (2) there are a variety of adverse side effects. See http://www.wada-ama.org/en/Resources/Q-and-A/Blood-Doping/ noting “increased risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism.”
The CVAC pod has not been shown to cause these adverse side effects, so any ban would have to come under (3) violation of the spirit of the code. While this is fairly vague, it essentially comes down to using legal means to compete “fairly.” It is illegal to use EPO without a prescription. In addition, it would be unethical for a doctor to prescribe EPO to improve sport performance. This is not the case with CVAC — a method which essentially mimics training at a higher altitude.
To sum up, CVAC is different from EPO because it can legally be used without a prescription, does not have any medically documented serious side effects, and provides no benefit different from training at altitude — which clearly cannot be banned. That is, if it really is such a great tool, any player can fairly use it just as any other player. With EPO, a player is presented with the possibility of serious health issues if he uses the substance. There is no such dilemma for CVAC — you can use it if you feel it will help your game and not use it if you feel it is a waste of time. The issue of “costs” and “availability” are not factored into what should be banned. If they were, dedicated “physio” trainers would certainly cost more than CVAC.
Thanks for the info on this!
Fair points too, I don’t have much against CVAC, just seems a little artificial.
Hi Jonathan and all… First of all great article. 🙂 The more research u do the more deeper the rabbit hole gets. Nearly all all ur readers r saying the same thing after reading ur article and there own sixth sense about this subject.
I.myself earlier made a little post about how i felt about if PED were being used in Tennis. But i like ur indepth look at this. A balanced argument showing fors and against without totally vilefying one person or organisation.
I think when u get media ,PR gurus, Hand picked Doctors to say that the game of Tennis is clean. Without evidence and a proven track record, this is where people rightfully question this. Is it clean or not? Naturally people always jump to conclusions and make there own hypothesis to
fit there results/ stats. But sometimes the gut feeling u have will. transpire if u do the right research and have if lucky a whistle blower, or catch a drugs cheat. This therefore could result the system in place to be modified to stop these people. But because its been a long time any major story has found about this u cannot simply say that the game of Tennis is clean!! I bet if u asked someone.in the locker room there will b thousands of stories of illegal goings ons.
Yeah good point about the locker room stories. Andy Murray basically said that the players operate under omerta. I suppose nobody wants to be the whistle blower but hard to imagine clean athletes just letting it slip, especially if they are losing money / rankings as a result of it…
Thanks for the reply Jonathan, i have read this article 3 times. Not that i am a slow reader or anything! I find this subject really interesting and alot more definately needs to done by all of the organisations involved. They certainly have the money to solve this problem but i suppose there mantra will be “if it ain’t broke,why fix it?” policy.
Again a good easy read with great points. I look forward to reading about upcoming Rotterdam open. Cheers.
I’ll start by saying that I’m a big Federer fan and also a big tennis fan, so I find it hard to think about doping in the sport. I mean, I like and want to think that I’ve been watching real sportmen battling out there over all these years. If not, I’d feel somehow cheated, though I doubt I’d feel less wonder from the magical plays I’ve enjoyed watching all this time.
I agree that based on the current testing methods, it’s pretty naive to think there’s no doping going on. I don’t like, however, that everyone will usually just point fingers to Nadal and Djokovic as the usual suspects. I prefer Roger, but I enjoy him so much when he plays those guys. I think he has shown his true greatness when stretching himself out and outplaying those guys. Winning against lesser guys would not have made him that great in my eyes. I mean, just imagine that all those Grand Slams he won would have had second weeks with players like those he usually plays in the first week. I’m not putting those guys down, but we’re all just waiting for the great matches in the second week. We can get a great match once in a while in the first week, but the classic matches have been played but these guys in a semifinal or a final of a Grand Slam.
Now the point I’m about to make is not one that I wish is true and thus not something that I’m stating as an opinion, but rather and exercise in thinking. My point would be that you can certainly raise an eyebrow over Djokovic’s explosion (even though he’s been a consistent number 3 for a number of years), and state that he started winning everything in 2011 because he started doping, because his results and stats are now awesome. But, what would prevent to state by using the same logic that Federer, the greatest winner in the history in the sport most certainly dominated the sport over a number of years with an even greater iron fist than Djokovic, an almost unreal consistency in winning Grand Slams, and so if the argument is so persuasive against Djokovic, it should be more conclusive when weighed against Roger.
Someone could say that he was great from the start. Rafa was also great from start (he won the first Roland Garros he played if I’m not mistaken). So? Rafa could have been doping from the start. And by the same argument, so could Roger.
And then you can also say that you can only win against doping by doping yourself (the argument/defense put forth by Armstrong), and that means that in order to win against Nadal and Djokovic, if they’re doping, is to dope too, and thus Roger should have been doping to win against them.
Now, having said that, another point of view would be to say that Roger is a so talented that he’s been able to win so much. And that’s what I think (and want to think, unless an Armstrong-like turn around comes along), but that’s also what I want to think about Djokovic and Nadal too. I want to think that they’re as great as they have proven to be by winning against someone like Roger. And overall, because Roger has been the better player, that he’s towered over a field of champions almost like no other in the history of the sport…
Yeah I think most Fed fans dislike the topic of doping. I’m not particularly thrilled with it, but it’s interesting all the same. Hard to imagine Federer doping though, he is too Swiss for something like that.
I don’t really have any specific suspects in mind, someone way down the rankings is just as likely to be doping as someone in the top 10 so it doesn’t really matter to me. Obviously if they have used it to win a Grand Slam it’s slightly different though.
Testing needs to improve, that’s the main thing. Keep old samples so as technology evolves they can be retested.
Read your post with interest – I do not think any sport is totally clean and that inclues my beloved tennis. Have doubts about Nole – he use to seem to retire at the drop of a hat for various reasons, heat exhaustion etc and then all of a sudden he becomes like the Duracell bunny. Have also read lots of posts re Nadal – and although never had doubts about him – with this extended timeout and the conflicting comments for the reasons for the delay you have to wonder. Surely the ITF have to start to do more testing across the board and if there are cheats they should be named and shamed and given appropriate punishments.
Trudi,this should enlighten you re nole: http://www.dropshotdispatch.com/2011/10/13/djokovics-cvac-conundrum-djokovics-controversial-training-method-examined/
Thank you for the link – I read it with interest – I think it explains a lot about how he is suddenly so much fitter and able to bounce back – I don’t think a gluten free diet would have the same results somehow.
Yeah the testing procedures have to change. Way too lax.
As for Djoker, who knows. He used the CVAC but there’s no rules to say he can’t. It probably did help him.
I’ve tried a gluten free diet recently, quite difficult but just about managed it. Feel slightly more energetic but not to the point where it’d make a ton of difference….
Hi Trudi… Now that u mentioned it Djokovic was the worst player of giving up with excuses of pollen,breathing mental lapses etc etc. His Gluten free diet has sudenly made him into he-man and the master of the universe!! What a joke other people should try b gluten free and i bet u they wont b suddenly physically stronger in all departments. I cant remember which comentator liken him as ‘ a delicate flower’ but now they dont mention this anymore. Having 5 setters back to back no longer hurts him. Hmmmmmm how interesting?
Does it help to dope in tennis? My answers is definitely yes. Is there enough money involved to buy the right substances. Absolutely yes, at least for the top 50 players. They earn more than 99.9% of all pro cyclists.
While you need a certain amount of talent (like in cycling, Amstrong and Ulrich might have had that) to win doping increases your endurance during a match and more importantly it speeds up recovery after training and matches. Two players come to my mind when we speak about increadible endurance. One player dominated all slow courts and all five setters between 2005 and 2010. Accidently he lives on the same island as Dr Fuentes. The other player increased his fitness from average to the best of all time between December 2010 and January 2011. Even the first player needed a chair after a 6 hour marathon match in 2012 against the second player. There is so much difference between the fitness of these two players compared to the rest that you must display increased alertness .
I agree, the argument to say doping doesn’t help the necessary skills required to win in tennis compared to other sports is daft.
Like you said, it aids speed and endurance, and speeds up recovery time. Those two things are pretty important and even more so on slow courts.
The ITF have a poor anti doping testing, and they have slowed down the courts to the point where that would actually helps dopers. Conspiracy theory huh!!
Waiting for tennis ‘Lance gate’-Doping pigs. Use your common sense people
Sadly I cannot say tennis is innocent and top players are more likely doing it one way or another because they are the ones who financially afford to do so ‘professionally’. Would be the 2nd darkest day for tennis (the 1st is the day when Roger leaves courts, of course) if one of big names was caught…though I don’t think it would happen any time soon if not ever because of those reasons Jonathan sensibly put together here. Well done.
Look at the Armstrong’s case, it took 10 years of a sports journalist and his employer’s (the Sunday times) endless effort and pursuit finally made people to speak out about the guy. Along the way the journalist was nearly lost his career.
People in tennis world know about the stuff but just afraid to speak or cannot tell the truth because they are part of it. So if a player is doing dodgy, I am sure people around him/her wouldn’t tell, the test wouldn’t show anything and ITF would be just happy not hearing anything since ‘tennis is a gentleman’s sport’. The leading player’s initiatives for calling more blood tests wouldn’t be enough, though it starts from there. What about the players doing ilegal things legally like Armstrong? As we now already knew there’s always the way to escape. So I agree with Jonathan, not much can be done with the current system. But I think the awareness is the key, people like us fans, journalists, writers, bloggers all should talk about it openly, rise questions and make noise.
As for Roger, I believe he’s clean. He has been the top because he’s unique. He hasn’t dramatically changed in the past in the way Novak has for instance. His style of game, his physique…the way he speak about doping make no sense of cheating to me, I know that’s obviously bias, haha.
Another great post, thank you.
I agree, hard to see anything changing or a major scandal breaking. The papers, the big tennis organisations, media can shape everything how they want. It’s just where the biggest back hander goes really.
Would take someone with some inside info and bravery to blow the lid on it all if there was something there. I’d like to see it happen.
Hey Jonathan, this is a very distastful topic but I guess it has to be addressed. If I were a touring pro, I would go along with testing no problem, but the technology just isn’t there to make a big difference. I hate needles personally, so I would not be a happy camper if they kept after me for blood samples all the time. The technology has to get to the point where 2 or 3 times a year they would have to submit blood and or urine samples, and the test would be good enough to detect performance enhancing drugs even after months of time lapsing. I don’t think that the testing should be for anything else. If someone wants to relax with alchohol or pot, they should have a right to their privacy. I don’t think that doping is as big a problem in tennis as in other sports, but the technology has to get better to make testing reliable, and feasible. On another topic, I feel that I’ve made another step up in my own technique, because of all the videos that I’ve studied over the last couple of years of watching Fed. Unfortunately, as my technique is improving, I’m getting older and my physical skills are diminishing. But I’m a fighter and I’ll probably end my life at age 85 going for a tough passing shot down the line! Either that or in bed not necessarily asleep! I’m looking forward to the French. I think Fed is going to do well, his backhand looks pretty impressive these days!
I’m sure not everyone loves giving blood, but its just something you’d have to put up with right? Same with people who don’t like flying, just gotta grin and bear it.
I personally wouldn’t like to give blood in between important matches, I feel psychologically like it would weaken you? Even though it probably doesn’t.
One handed BH or 2 handed BH Tim? I played for the first time in about 4 months today, not been able to hit the courts due to the weather. Very rusty!
A very interesting read Jonothan. I’m convinced there is doping in tennis. I just want to make a quick comment on Djokovic. I live in California and watched the Australian Open on ESPN. They did their obligatory segment on Vegemite in which they offered it to various pros. They offered a Vegemite sandwich to Djokovic and he took a big bite of it without hesitation. If he is on a gluten free diet, why would he do this? Bread is full of gluten… I have no idea if Vegemite is or isn’t. The people I know who are gluten free would never have done this.
I’d like to know if anyone else saw this segment.
Interesting, I didn’t see that! Guess he thought one bit of wheat wouldn’t hurt.
Do you have a clip?
Carole, According to the clip I say from youtube, Djokovic tasted the Vegemite from a Jar. He did not taste it (the vegetable extracted substance) in a sandwich. Just to make that clear. If you have a clip showing Djokovic eating a sandwich please link it.
What is most disturbing about the suspicions of doping is the effect it has on our perceptions of the Sport itself.
For me the suspicions in some way have tainted the authenticity of tennis giving it an artificial feel. The AO this year felt regardless of the issue of doping, unnatural. Endurance and recovery were the main subjects talked about during the event.
The questions of physical fitness, night or day matches, short or long matches and weather conditions were the main deciding factors in all the pundits articles on predicting the outcome of matches not strategy and skill . The media’s emphasis of the super human abilities and the single-mindedness to win of some players in tennis inadvertently fuels the suspicions of substance abuse even more. Before all of this I enjoyed looking at tennis. Now it’s become a little more distant. I am a tennis coach by the way so I feel this is deeply disturbing even if I had suspicions before. It’s the way the game is changing and at the pace of this change is at the heart of my disappointment.
Yeah I still haven’t seen the clip so dunno what he did.
Agreed too, all the talk of doping and the focus on endurance etc takes the enjoyment out of tennis. I want to see skill and talent. Matches should be won by who plays aggressively and comes up with the shots. Not who lasts the longest.
Yeah, these guys are putting Gruntarenka-Shriekapova to shame by taking man-grunting to a whole new level. I think that’s wrong on so many levels 🙂
This was a well-reasoned/structured piece. There really is a huge conflict of interest and if one scandal brings down a star then it could be the floodgates and next thing you know tennis revenues are cut in half or worse. Hence why ITF want to avoid anything just like with Agassi and the non-PED meth ordeal. And thanks for avoiding tossing around certain names. Bill Simmons posted something on Grantland (inspired by Ray Lewis’ “miraculous” recovery), and this excerpt:
//Some of my favorite ways include …
• Skip the Olympics (which has much stricter drug testing) in your prime for any dubious reason and you’re on the list.
• Enjoy your best season in years in your late 30s, four or five years after your last “best season,” and you’re on the list.
• If you’re a skinny dude who miraculously managed to add 20 pounds of muscle to your scarecrow frame, you’re on the list.
• If you chopped down the recovery time of a debilitating injury to something that just didn’t seem possible a year ago, you’re on the list.
• If you were really good and really ripped at a really young age, and now your body is breaking down much sooner than it should be breaking down, you’re on the list.
• If you’re exhibiting a level of superhuman endurance that has little correlation to the endurance of any of your competitors, you’re on the list. //
He’s certainly no expert but I can think of a couple of the top guys who meet more than one of those prerequisites. He should have added: If you were known for physically fading away in grueling affairs and now you are overcoming your opponents through superior endurance/recovery then you’re on the list. It’s just suspicion and there’s no proof but like Ru-an or Jonathan point out – that’s the reason tennis needs a better system for weeding out the cheaters.
Great article Jonathan, you brought up many valid points. The Spanish doctor said he had treated some 800 athletes and about 200 were cyclists. That leaves hundreds of footballers and tennis players to be named. It would be hard for sports but good if that doctor named names.
Yeah like Randi said above in the comments, those names aren’t coming out even though Fuentes said he can name them. It’s all corrupt.
Send that doctor to us. We will waterboard him. We will use Chinese torture. We will leave no stone unturned to get those names out of him. Heck, I’ll even learn Spanish for interrogation 🙂
Seriously, we really need those names. But, as someone mentioned, there is no way Spain is going to let that happen. What are they hiding? Is their favorite son doped too? I read somewhere that the doctor resides in Mallorca too. Hmmmmmmmm…..for starters, I think the two Euros and the World Cup wins by Spain must have been drug fueled.
(Ok, that may have sounded borderline racist but I was just trying to be funny is all)
Here is a link to an interesting interview about the doctor from CBC radio in Canada. http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/As+H+Happens/ID/2331054281/
Thanks, just listened. Like the interviewee said, covering it up! Spanish are protecting their football players.
WADA director general David Howman pretty much sums it up: “We need to know names of all the athletes that Fuentes was treating – we know it wasn’t only cycling. We have been banging our heads against a brick wall to get access to the evidence that was gathered.”
I find it really sad that no other sports than cycling don’t even pretend to care about the Operación Puerto scandal – probably the biggest doping scandal in sports thus far. Everybody knows it includes many other sports. We also knew it back in 2006. But it was only cycling that took action – TdF threw many riders out of the race that year. FIFA decided to drop all blod control testing at the World Cup the same summer.
I came across this article yesterday. It’s from 2007 and not directly related to tennis, but I find it both relevant and interesting – http://www.german-times.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1834&Itemid=74
While I’m at it, here’s a good blogpost about what other sports, football and tennis in particular, can learn from pro cycling when it comes to doping – http://inrng.com/2013/02/doping-in-sport-cycling-lessons/#more-12992
Interesting reads. I think football is probably the sport where doping is most rife. But also the most protected.
The thing with football is it’s not about getting right to the top, if you can get to a semi decent level you are made for life so I think players are willing to do whatever it takes to get to some kind of edge.
I mean Defoe did that blood spinning thing to get over his last injury. They are willing to do anything.
We fans wanna put the tennis players on a pedestal. We worship them and want to admire their performances. The sponsors benefit from the game, the players get their prize money, so why fighting against doping? What is the need for that? It is a win win situation for everyone involved.
If you play tennis yourself you know what you are capable of. You know how long you have to recover from an exhausting match.
Doping and betting are like sleeping and practising. The Lance Armstrong case shows that you can beat tests while you use PED. For me, it is wishful thinking that the top players are clean, while players like Odesnik were caught doping. It is like going to a circus. You wanna see a good performance and you do not care about the treatment the animals get. It is the same with professional sport. It is staged pretending to be real and transparent and authentic. Officials and players laugh about the fans that are naive to believe that you can play five hours and after two days of rest you come back and play another four hours.
Tennis is a great sport and I enjoy watching tennis on TV or at the venue knowing that it is entertaining and not sport.
P.S. Jonathan, awesome job you do with your blog. Keep up the good work!
I absolutely disagree with you, Peter. You should probably go back to watching WWE. I’m sure you will love that circus.
Believing if doping is good, or not good for sport, also defines what kind of person you are. I believe it should be 100% clean. And a sincere effort should be made to keep it clean. Of course, there will always be Spaniards.
We look up on our favorite players for inspiration. So, in a very direct way, doping hurts fans like me too. I would be devastated, in the highly unlikely scenario that Roger takes PED’s. I absolutely would be.
So, yes, doping hurts me too.
P.S. I hate going to the circus, and, I absolutely hate zoos.
If you are a business man and make a certain brand of food. You put the nutrition label up. Then you sell it. Except, a large chunk of the food item you are selling is made of fake material and it nowhere near adds up to what the label says. Of course, it’s really tasty. People love it! You are making millions.
Then…you get caught. Shouldn’t you be getting jail time? Absolutely.
Similarly, professional athletes caught doping must be given jail time. What they do, is nothing short of embezzlement. It should be punished.
Everything has been taken away from Lance Armstrong. Really? I don’t think so. He couldn’t care less about his image. He fooled the world, and now he has their money, and he is enjoying it. The crook must be in jail.
When you see players run like a rabbit for five hours without any sign of exhaustion, you might come to the conclusion that this is not a clean performance. You might be disgusted by it and turn away from that kind of sport or you accept it as it is: entertainment.
When I watched the Tour de France with Armstrong, Ullrich etc I was wondering how Lance could be clean as his performance looked like he used PED. I mean I could not imagine a better display at all.
It is the same with politicians. During the campaign they tell the people everything they wanna hear to get elected. Once the guys are in office, they are surrounded by powerful interests that make them act like a puppet reading off the teleprompter.
The bottem line is: authenticity vs deception
No, not all fans. Not me. Not the real Federer fans. Peter, I agree with the points you made. What I don’t agree is the words you used, “We fans wanna..”. Those who like PED charged athletes for entertainment can speak for themselves. And they can huddle around their TV’s, yell, drink, be merry, and dip those chips into salsa and have a good time.
For me, sport, particularly tennis, is not a deception. It is real. It is the only sport I watch now, and Roger is pretty much the only once I watch these days. I absolutely worship Roger Federer.
If there are fans who enjoy drug fueled athletes, go ahead, enjoy. Our world as a whole is moving away from what’s real, and becoming an illusion, slowly, but surely. I’ll stand by what I said. If I had the power, I would put such athletes into jail, and the politicians too.
Maybe I sound old, or like a philosopher. But I’m neither 🙂
Yeah I don’t know any fans who are willing to put up with doping and just class tennis as entertainment. What message does that send out?
Correct. What part of “doping is cheating” doesn’t anyone understand? 🙂 In short, we are saying it’s ok to cheat as long as some people find it entertaining (and some are making millions). The ATP and the tennis muckamucks are doing a heck of a job covering up the cheats. It’s making me sick.
Yeah pure joke. Nobody should be willing to accept doping.
Funny. I just came across this, “Australia rocked by allegations of widespread drug use in sports”
But wait, then I saw another link: “Match-fixing threatens ‘integrity of football in Europe”
Hi Jonathan … Your article about doping/cheating coudnt of been more timely. Couple of days ago on news about widespread match fixing in football. Today in Austrailia WADA confirm the use of doping in nearly all the major sports in OZ. They r calling it a black day for sports in OZ. This again confirms the notion of Entire sports being ruined by cheaters who r willing do to anything to get to the top. Therefore how can the game of Tennis be immune when all other sports there r major stories coming out.
Completely agree. All those who think tennis is free from doping are being naive and think they live in Utopia. They need to wake the heck up. I am convinced these big names are doping, particularly Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal went into hiding just to ensure his name is not thrown around. Besides, he needs to come up with a “non dope assisted solution”. Out of sight, is out of mind they say. I heard he is going to be back with a much powerful racquet that will impart even more spin than the record rotations he already generates with his cowardly 100 sq in Babolat. Whatever happened to, “the equipment is just a means”. That, combined with some more undetectable banned “solutions”, and we are in for run of slams from him. Watch out!
I’ve already given up on watching most sport. I’m not wasting my time on these cheats. And no watching tennis either once Roger hangs up his shoes.
Hi my friend.. Is that true that Nadal has changed his raquet for a more powerful one. So that would mean his shots being more powerful woukd compensate in winners, therefore less grinding running for his “so called” doggy knees. Nadal and his crooked cheater uncle”will do anything to win!” Toni are already doing things to get him back at the top. Everytime the stories of his knees r completly hyped up by the media. Both never give honest straight answers!! Especially uncle Toni he is always lie- ing out of his teeth.
Thanks 4 reply Sid. Cheers 🙂
Yes, Seraj, Babolat has modified this Aero Pro Drive (?) I think to impart more spin. Obviously, that would help open up the court even more as he can now keep the ball in. He could also go for more on his ground strokes. And, it will be much harder for opponents to negate the spin and counter with an effective shot. These guys are all about the racquets, not skills. Roger’s racquet is the least powerful, with the least head size and look at the thinks he does!
As for dope, I’m positive they will find solutions that will ensure PED’s remain undetected. And it’s not like suddenly there will be increased testing, both in terms of frequency and quality.
Tennis is dead! Long live Tennis! 🙂
And about the knees? I never bought that. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Nadal’s knees. He did two things. First, he went away because he knew he had to do something different to win. If he had stayed, he would’ve damaged his head to head record against Djokovic and Federer. Uncle Toni wouldn’t want that.
And the other thing, he stayed away as the doping controversy unfolded. I don’t just suspect, I believe Nadal takes PED’s. It will never be proven. Fuentes isn’t squealing, no way.
Typical Fedtard comment. You think Fed is clean after not being able to win a slam for more than 5 years and all of a sudden, comes back from an injury and beats Rafa at the AO17 after failing to beat him in I don’t know how many GS? Dream on… he, along with Djokovic, is the biggest PED user. Look at the men in Rafa’s family – they are strong, healthy men.
You are such a typical Fedtard.. funyy how both Dopovic and Pederer aren’t calling for the test results to be made public, or for more testing yet Rafa is. Also, it’s the major reason why Dopovic got rid of Chris Kermode because he was going to increase the drug testing
Phoenix Rising, you don’t sound as though you have M.E., despite the name. You’re ignoring the fact that prior to AO 2017 Nadal hadn’t beaten Federer for 3 years. And it’s not as if Fed had vanished off the scene between times: don’t forget, he’d made it to two Wimbledon finals and a USO final between those dates, where he got beaten by Djokovic – who you’ve just claimed is a doper. Yet you seem to think Federer shouldn’t be capable of beating Nadal over 5 sets … think logically about where that is leading …
Plus, IIRC Federer was advised by his doctors to take a good couple of months off after Wimbledon to make sure the knee injury had healed properly. That took him past the USO, and made it unlikely that he would qualify for the World Tour Finals, so not a lot of point in his book in bothering to finish the season – far better to rest properly, then train hard and come back fully refreshed at the beginning of the next year. Any “coming back from injury” would have been around October time, not the following January, which makes quite a difference.
Yeah I saw the article on the Australia stuff. Doping won’t go down anywhere in the world, but especially not in Australia, they will hate it more than most.
I think football is going to be full of dopers. Especially La Liga and the Premier league. The thing with football is even if you’re in an average premier league side you’re still earning millions a year, so if you can get some kind of little boost to get to the required level then player will do it I’m sure.
Totally aggree with u about the Football where most of the cheating is happening.
I wanted to ask regarding raquets?? This question goes to whoever knows ? Since Federer had the same raquet at time when he played Sampras in Wimbledon ..how many times has Federer changed/adopted his raquet ie strings/weight from the time of that match with Sampras?? I am asking this because these new technology will surely make a huge difference. Especially the strings which can give unfair advantage ie Nadals huge topspins. I can remember Agassi using a oversized raquet a bit like the new Rotterdam statue for his returns. I think the pros should use only one type of strings for all players and one set of raquets as this will give a level playing feel for all pros.
I think Roger played hi early career with a Pro Staff 85 (same racket as Sampras) but changed to a 90sq inch racket in 2002/2003 sometime.
Ever since then he’s used a 90sq inch racket with Natural Gut mains and Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough crosses. Also uses string savers.
Obviously he has changed the model slightly over the years but that’s it It’s hard to tell how different his racket actually his from the retail version but I think they are quite close. He’s used the Pro Staff 85, the Hyper Pro Staff 6.0 90sq”, Ncode nSix-One Tour 90, the K-Factor Six-one Tour 90, the Blx Six One Tour 90 and now he has the Wilson BLX Pro Staff 90.
Hard to know about weight and string tensions, may differ from surface to surface.
Babolat raquets should be outlawed 😛
A few days ago, former head of WADA says tennis has a doping problem:
Now we have the Dr. Fuentes fake trial in Spain, where the Spanish authorities do everything possible to protect their big names in football and tennis. Tyler Hamilton, former teammate of Armstrong once said that Fuentes helped tennis players and football players out. Where are the names???
Also the match fixing scandal exposed by Europol.
It is disgusting. The language the organized crime syndicate understands is refusing to buy their gear made in Bangladesh and not to buy tickets. It is not sport until it is clean. For me, it is entertainment pretending to be real at the moment.
Yeah I agree with you that football is a complete Soap Opera. The Premier League is just played to a script now. Guessing you are from Germany, not sure how the Bundesliga compares to it?
From your other comments I think I misunderstood you a little, in that I thought you were saying that you were happy for there to be doping in sport and just class it as entertainment. But guessing you want sport to be clean just like everyone else, and until then you refuse to believe it is actually sport.
I’m in the camp that thinks some athletes will dope, but others will be completely clean so in my mind it’s still sport just not a completely level playing field. And doping needs to be stamped out.
Would love to see the names on the list that Fuentes has. And doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that Champions League games get fixed, they let so many teams in anyway that have no chance of winning it that it’s bound to happen.
I came across an article on the main page of CNN that said, “Football season is over? Now what?. These 7 substitutes will keep you busy until Fall.”
Then, it went on two list the 7 sins, NHL, PGA, College Basketball etc. That article pretty much sums up the state of American sports watchers. They just need something to watch, and talk about. You can throw junk at them, but so long as it is sufficiently sexed up, it will sell. It will be bought. What if everyone just took up a real sport? Maybe tennis? Maybe a team sport? Doesn’t matter what. It will be so much fun. All the time that they need to be kept busy with until Fall, can be used on those activities. The other benefit? It will improve their physical and mental well being.
Unfortunately, a vast majority just want something to watch. They are much happier to see great things happening on the TV, in front of their eyes, rather than try to achieve a fraction of that greatness themselves. They could care less if those athletes they rever are heavily doped.
Sorry if I sounded like a cynic.
There was a big match fixing scandal in Germany back in 2005 with a referee named Robert Hoyzer. I think the Bundesliga is not better or worse than all the other leagues in Europe. They are all rotten in terms of doping and betting.
I think I may have misunderstood you Peter, but only slightly. I thought you were trying to condone athletes who dope under the pretext that they “entertain”. Hopefully that’s not what you stand for 🙂
Doping is a huge industry and the ways to evade testing will always be a step or two ahead of inclusion in the list of banned methods/substances.Now the question is whether ITF should go on a wild goose chase or make it like the NFL.This has become like a gun debate now, in the sense that does it make any sense not to be “doing”, if everyone is doing already.It completely takes out the human element and skills from tennis..but what do u do?
Gotta find a way to clamp down on it. But there’s too much money and corruption involved.
We want to look at the top players with no suspicions. ITF should set up a doctor corp that they know, do not partake in the administration of PED drugs. Have all the top players receive treatment limited to this corp of Doctors. Any players looking for treatment outside of this corp could be justifiably tested on a more regular bases.
I am missing the fun of watching tennis matches with the ongoing suspicion of substance abuse. As long as this anomaly continues a slow rot in public perceptions of tennis will , regardless of the efforts of corruption and money to avoid the suspicion, be devastating.
I think this problem will never be addressed because there are money and commercial interests involved. Tennis governing bodies are trying to please too many parties to be able to stay clean and fair.
Ultimately, the ones paying for the greed are the young adults who dedicated their lives to sport and who will suffer serious health issues as a result.
Oh looky here, Sharapova tests positive.