Wednesday, October 1, 2014

USADA Anti-Doping Statistics: Q2 2014

The USADA's anti-doping statistics through Q2 (June 30) 2014 have been posted.

In Q2 2014:

9 Athletes Selected
15 Total Tests
Athlete NameTest Count
Michael C Bryan1
Robert C Bryan1
Jamie Hampton1
Christina M McHale1
Wayne Odesnik3
Sam Querrey1
Sloane Stephens1
Serena J Williams3
Venus E Williams3

Total for 2014 through Q2:

12 Athletes Selected
37 Total Tests
Athlete NameTest Count
Michael C Bryan1
Robert C Bryan4
Jamie Hampton2
John Isner3
Madison Keys1
Bethanie Mattek-Sands1
Christina M McHale2
Wayne Odesnik5
Sam Querrey2
Sloane Stephens4
Serena J Williams6
Venus E Williams6

Total for all of 2013:

10 Athletes Selected
61 Total Tests
Athlete NameTest Count
Michael C Bryan7
Robert C Bryan8
Mardy S Fish4
Liezel Huber2
John Isner10
Wayne Odesnik14
Sam Querrey2
Sloane Stephens1
Serena J Williams5
Venus E Williams8

 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wertheim on Cilic

Jon Wertheim weighs in on Marin Cilic's US Open win (I'm guessing he didn't read this US Open interview with Cilic). Some excerpts:
"I risk being lampooned here, but I consider Cilic to be a triumph -- not an indictment -- of tennis’ anti-doping apparatus. In a strict liability world -- which, necessarily, anti-doping must be -- Cilic was guilty. Alibis and explanation can minimize damage in the court of public opinion; but ultimately you are responsible for what you put in your body...
"...He was given a chance, though, to author a new chapter, to do something so that “drug suspension” would not top-line his Wikipedia entry. And, to his credit, he did.
"I don’t think anyone is scrubbing this from the Cilic record. It’s an unfortunate stain that he’ll always have to counter. But he did the crime, he did the time and now he’s playing again. This doesn’t sound like a procedural breakdown. The system worked as it should."



Ricci Bitti on the Tennis Anti-doping Programme

An interview with the President of the International Tennis Federation from yesterday:
This time last year, you were about to introduce the biological passport to counter doping. Do you think it’s been effective and do you think you’re doing enough in terms of anti-doping measures?
"Doping is a very difficult matter to discuss because in doping, normally the authorities who test for it are in a lose-lose situation. Because if you have a positive test, it means that you have a problem in the sport. If you don’t have any positive tests, people say you aren’t doing enough.
"What we believe is that the tennis programme is very good, especially at the top. We have now introduced a lot more blood tests.
"We believe that in terms of quality we are very high. Having said that, we have to be vigilant. In terms of quantity, we depend also on the national agencies but they aren’t targeting tennis much. They focus more on cycling and other sports. We need them to do more."
 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bitti and Tignor on Cilic

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti on Marin Cilic's US Open win:
Cilic triumphed at Flushing Meadows having returned to tennis last October after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cut his ban for doping to four months from the nine month suspension the ITF originally imposed.
"In a system of justice, the first rule is to respect the sentence," said Bitti. "If the sanction has been reduced it means they have recognised some mitigating factor that the first level didn't consider."
Bitti said he was "very happy" to see Cilic win: "Cilic was always a good player. It's more that he has done the last steps - he was missing something, now perhaps he has found his balance in tennis."
He said tennis had introduced more blood tests and the quality of anti-doping measures was high.
"In terms of quantity, we also depend on the national agencies, which are not so much targeting tennis," said Bitti. "We are trying to convince them to do more on tennis. They are really focusing on cycling and other sports."

Across town at tennis.com, Steve Tignor has this to say in response to a reader's question:

You keep saying [Marin] Cilic is such a “nice guy.” Shouldn’t you be mentioning that he was suspended for a positive doping test last year?—Dan
Yes, we can't forget or ignore that. Certainly, seeing a guy who has never won a 500-level event, let alone a Masters or a major, suddenly play the best tennis of his life to win nine straight sets for the U.S. Open title, one year after being banned from the same tournament because of a positive drug test, is rightfully going to arouse suspicion. And last year I found it interesting that in 2012 the ITF tested Cilic “4-6” times out of competition; that was more than the 1-3 norm for most top players that year. Were the testing authorities suspicious even before he came up positive?
But before anyone offers an opinion on Cilic’s specific case, I'd recommend reading the summary of his ITF tribunal hearing from last fall—pretend it’s a short story by Kafka and it actually makes for some good, agonizing reading. I came away from it believing that Cilic was guilty of carelessness and bad luck—as well as a tragic reliance on his mother’s language skills—but not of deliberately trying to dope. That’s essentially what Roger Federer said when he was asked about Cilic’s suspension at the Open. He said the Croat was “stupid,” but that he felt like he knew him well enough to believe he wouldn't intentionally cheat.
 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Federer on Cilic

From the US Open....

Q. You have been outspoken person about antidoping. Are you at all uncomfortable losing to somebody who only last year was convicted of an antidoping violation?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I'm fine with it. I truly believed he didn't do anything wrong in the sense that he did it on purpose. Was he stupid maybe? Maybe. You know, yeah. But I feel like I know him well enough, and I don't think he would ever do it. I don't quite remember what the circumstances were, but I feel more bad for him than anything else. So for me, when I see him it doesn't cross my mind in any way. And, no, I think he was becoming the player he is already way before that, so from that standpoint no problem for me.

Marin Cilic

From the US Open...

Q. Have you spoken to Viktor, and do you think there is a drug problem in our sport?

CILIC: I mean, I have spoke with Viktor in April. I have seen him, but I haven't seen him since he started to play. He was in Europe. I mean, he also had extremely difficult period. I mean, he wasn't positive on a test and got suspended for a year. That's, I mean, difficult to understand. But, I mean, I don't think there is drugs in our sport. I feel that it's pretty safe...

Q. Going back to your previous answer, you said the process was unfair. Could you explain in what way it was unfair or how you weren't treated properly? 

CILIC: Well, I mean, first, a notification letter what they have sent me they sent me that I was positive to a substance which I wasn't. That proved to be one of the main things that were talked about in the hearing and that, you know, I was released basically. On the day of the decision it was already four months past, so it was basically like they were giving me zero. That was difficult to understand, why it happened like that and why. I haven't gotten any explanation for that. I mean, for me there was nothing much I could do because they played with the rules and they used it for their advantage.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Miles to go....

An interesting piece in Newsday:
"STATS, a technology and data company using a system it calls SportVU, has done motion tracking of athletes in primary professional sports and concluded that only soccer players log more mileage in competition than tennis players.

"According to SportVU, a soccer player runs as far as 9.5 miles during a game. Tennis players cover from three to five miles in a five-set match, NBA players almost three miles, football players about 1.25 miles and baseball players around 100 yards."
That's a pretty interesting finding. What makes it more interesting is that Stuart Miller, the anti-doping manager for the International Tennis Federation, had this to say about tennis and stamina in 2009:
"It may be that tennis is not conducive to EPO. Maybe tennis is not a sport that is driven by a need to maximize stamina, which is what EPO essentially does."
Hmmm....


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tennis anti-doping budget on the rise

The ITF's agenda for it's 2014 annual general meeting has been posted.

There are a couple of interesting bits of information. First, there is a significant ramp in the anti-doping budget from 2013 through 2016. In 2013, the actual spend was $2 million. In 2014, the anti-doping budget is planned at $2.6. It hits $3 million in 2015 and $3.1 by 2016. This planned spending represents an increase of over 50 percent. (See the budget tables on page 12.)

Hopefully, the increase in budget is spent on designing and executing an effective and intelligent anti-doping program.

The other bits from anti-doping are the following (on page 152):
The number of samples collected under the Programme in 2013 rose by 26% compared to 2012, and a further increase is anticipated in 2014. (See figure 1). Following its introduction into the Programme in 2013, around 350 Athlete Biological Passport blood samples have been collected in 2014 at the time of writing. The total of 2,185 samples collected under the TADP in 2013 represents about two thirds of all samples collected from tennis players by all anti-doping agencies...

A total of 48 Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) were granted under the TADP in 2013. The average time from receipt of a complete TUE application to a decision by the TUE Committee was again under 3 days, which is believed to be the shortest of any anti-doping organisation.

The 2014 Programme is fully compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Testing under the 2014 TADP is ongoing, and at the time of writing, over 1,000 samples have been collected from around 40 events, including Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Grand Slams, ATP Tour and WTA Tour and Professional Circuits.
I have to say that I'm not sure having the shortest time for TUE decisions is something to be proud of. How closely is the ITF looking at the applications?

Addendum:

An additional point I'd make is that the ITF came in $208,000 over-budget for anti-doping spending for 2013 (budget of $1,848M v. actual $2,056). The extra-expenditure is described as being caused by "legal costs required for the cases which came up in the year." (page 7) This result is significantly different from the four previous years of underspend, where costs were typically stated to be "lower than expected due to fewer positive cases."

So, what exactly happened on legals costs in 2013 that was so different from previous years?

2012: $180K under
Budget: 1,597M
Actual: 1,417M

2011: $288K under
Budget: $1,601M
Actual: $1,313M

2010: $301K under
Budget: $1,578M
Actual: $1,277M

2009: $122K under
Budget: $1,548M
Actual: $1,426M

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brad Mousley: 1-year ban for ecstasy (and yet another mystery withdrawal explained)

Australian junior tennis player Brad Mousley has been banned for a year for taking an ecstasy tablet.

ASADA (not ITF) test at Futures event at Melbourne Park on March 30, 2014.

Mousley accepted a provisional suspension on May 30, 2014.

Ban made public on August 20, 2014 (backdated to May 30, 2014).

It is of interest that on May 30, consistent with his acceptance of a provisional suspension, Mousley withdrew from his semi-final match at the Astrid Bowl in Belgium. Of course, no mention of the suspension was made to explain his withdrawal.

Again, and similar to cases like Marin Cilic and Robert Kendrick, Mousley's case raises the issue of reasons for a player withdrawing from tournaments.

To refresh your memory of previous cases, the Cilic Decision stated that:

"He [Cilic] played and won his first round match at Wimbledon on 24 June. He has not played in a competitive match since. On 26 June his lawyers in Brussels responded on his behalf, voluntarily accepting a provisional suspension until a decision in the case, and waiving his right to analysis of the B sample. He withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a knee injury to avoid adverse publicity."
In the case of Kendrick, the decision stated: "[Kendrick] accepted a voluntary suspension from competition (with effect from 17 June 2011), thereby foregoing participation in the All England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon."

Because of the lack of transparency in tennis anti-doping policies, it is impossible to tell whether withdrawals (or any prolonged absence from the tour) are caused by legitimate injuries or provisional anti-doping suspensions. The sole exception is when the player is found guilty of a violation and the information is made public (if the player is found not guilty they would simply return to the tour with (or without) any (fabricated) explanation).

As a result, every withdrawal and absence is open to question. What are fans and the media to make from sudden withdrawals, followed by a prolonged absence from the tour where a player offers a vague, open-ended, or no explanation at all? The only way to solve this problem is to publicly announce all provisional suspensions at the time the provisional suspension begins.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Just in Time for the US Open: Biogenesis & Odesnik

Courtesy of Jon Wertheim:


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bradley Mousley

An interesting anti-doping case involving a top Australian junior tennis player has been leaked. Read the story here.

The drug in question is ecstasy, but the timelines are more important:

1. Tested positive from a sample collected on March 30, 2014.

2. (Provisional) suspension started in May. The story doesn't actually specify a provisional suspensions, but that's really the only option prior to a Tribunal decision. He missed the junior French Open and Wimbledon as a result.

3. Tribunal hearing set for August 4, 2014.

I haven't been able to find any stories on whether he claimed an injury for pulling out of the junior Grand Slam tournament. If anyone finds any, please let us know

Monday, July 28, 2014

Paul Kimmage: "But f***ing tennis..."

An interview with Paul Kimmage from the Irish Post:
“Possibly, and this may sound ridiculous, cycling is one of the cleanest sports left because the controls are full on. But f***ing tennis, I find it nauseating to watch it on TV to see the McEnroes and all the commentators engage in this big love-in. And the bottom line is we are all getting rich here folks, lets not upset the apple-cart.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014