Monday, February 24, 2014

Not necessarily a trend...

A very thorough piece by Doug Robson on the ITF's latest anti-doping statistics. Some of his observations sound familiar...
...Out-of-competition urine tests actually dropped 47% from 2012. Urine tests are often, but not exclusively, used to screen for prohibited substances such as the blood-booster Erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone.

[Stuart] Miller said that the decline in urine tests was not necessarily a trend and "reflects the balance of the type of analysis that we feel we wanted to focus on in 2013."

[Don] Catlin, who heads the Catlin Consortium and is best known for uncovering the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative ring (BALCO), remained skeptical that athletes were not somehow tipped off to out-of-competition testing.

"These data are interesting but they do not provide the key data," he wrote. "Were the athletes informed when the test would take place? Of course they say 'no.' "

27 comments:

  1. this is very disturbing, it is in German but can be translated.

    http://www.spiegel.de/sport/wintersport/langlaeufer-johannes-duerr-ueber-epo-und-negative-doping-tests-a-955623.html

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  2. at least he has the balls to admit his guilt. Others come up with lame excuses, like over-the-counter medications, and their b.s. is accepted by the authorities, and their sentences are reduced.

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  3. Steroids, Stem cell therapy, Transhumanism, Cyborg athletes, where do we go? Armstrong got caught because a team member finally blew the whistle, not because of effective doping controls. How many other Armstrongs are out there? Or should I ask, how many other whistle-blowers are out there? I feel like giving up on Nadal. There will never be a whistle-blower in his case. The tennis business has absolutely no economic interest in bringing down the Spanish Bull, much the opposite. And the stuff Nadal is using / doing is probably not even illegal yet, because it's so new that the controllers don't even know about it. Everything about Nadal feels so wrong, so obvious, yet there seems little outcry beyond a few blogs on the internet crowded by Fedfans under suspicion of being sour losers. Or am I just one of them, and my imagination about Nadal went off board????

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    1. It is a sad state of affairs, and it's true that any fans of Fed accusing Nadal of anything are simply labelled as 'sore losers' due to the H2H. They seem to ignore the fact that the gaping chasm in class, sportsmanship and level of suspicion regarding illegitimate actions is more than adequate justification for having some bias.

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    2. After the AO final, I accused Nadal of severe gamesmanship either faking or grossly exaggerating his 'injury', which is what I believe we witnessed. I got called a sour loser about this, which I found quite funny, given the fact that Nadal did not win the final. My point is, the guys who got caught in Sochi are: Latvian hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs, Ukrainian cross-country skier Marina Lisogor, German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian bobsledder William Frullani and cross-country skier Johannes Duerr. All world-famous and extremely rich sport celebrities, isn't it!? :-) In tennis, they catch the real 'big guns' like Nuria Llagostera Vives, Viktor Troicki and Marin Cilic. Is there a level of stardom and top money maker where you become 'untouchable' for the anti-doping agencies?

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    3. @Manas: Regarding the question of 'untouchable' athletes: I don't think so. It is more likely that the 'stars' only became 'stars' due to their ability to trick the doping authorities, while the less famous athletes are either not smart enough to avoid being caught or not willing to use PED's in the first place.

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    4. @cdcd: all those rumors about silent bans indicate that some athletes are 'untouchable', meaning that they will be protected no matter what

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    5. @Manas you forgot Niklas Backstrom.

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  4. We have seen with Lance Armstrong (who paid to have a positive test covered up), and Carl Lewis (who had a positive test covered up before the 1988 Olympics), and Agassi (who had a positive test covered up by the ATP, because of a lame lie that he drank someone else's drink) that the athletes with the most fame are untouchable . Not to mention Serena, and Nadal, who are brazen, and obvious dopers.

    There is almost no doubt that the higher ranked athletes are treated differently. There is NO WAY Nadal will ever be caught by the ITF, or any Spanish authority. If he is caught, it will be by some third party that has no interest in protecting his "hero" status.

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    1. and if he is caught it's swept under the rug and he's allowed to use one of his many body parts as an excuse for either losing early or pulling out of tournaments. I'm still baffled that this guy took 7 months off for a knee injury and came back winning almost everything in sight including a tournament he had never been able to win before (Cincy) and three other hard court tournies.

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  5. Dear THASP, can you please, please, produce a 'Curious Case of Rafael Nadal - Part II'? Since you published this in 2011 it made its way through the internet like no other article about Nadal and Doping, and people start to be suspicious (booing the guy in a Grand Slam final, that is already something!). But how many new curious things have happened since 2011, which make this guy even more ridiculous?

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  6. Athletes are apparently using xenon for boosting EPO and testosterone levels in a process that was not only undetectable by current processes but also unknown to doping officials (I wonder if the second part is actually true). At any rate, given that this seems to have been going on for at least a decade, I don't see any rational argument that current anti-doping is even close to making an impact.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/02/26/russia_xenon_officials_say_nothing_wrong_if_olympic_athletes_used_performanc.html

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    1. Not only Xenon, but apparently experimental medication against anaemia: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/04/oxygen-in-a-pill-the-next-big-thing-in-sports-doping/
      From the article: " Drugs such as these are most effective for their therapeutic uses and any uses in sport would likely be very hit-and-miss. I can only see it being effective at the high end of sport."
      I think we can all be sure that doping is a sad, undeniable truth that's here to stay in elite tennis.

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    2. http://www.dropshotdispatch.com/2011/10/13/djokovics-cvac-conundrum-djokovics-controversial-training-method-examined/
      Training in changing alttitudes and gluten-free weight loss has been Djokovic main strategy for increasing his stamina, I suppose. I don't know how CVAC compares to Nadal's blood doping.

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    3. I was always curious about the effects of CVAC. The following indicates that they are far less than doping: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2007/0184034.html

      No where near the "double what is seen in doping" that the manufacturer claims. The studies indicate a 4.7% increase in red blood cells and a 5.3% increase in hematocrit. However, these results were after administering CVAC "40 minutes, 4 times a week, over an 8 week period."

      So, assuming you are a "typical" male with a HCT of 40%. After 8 weeks, you achieve 42.12% -- a 5.3% increase. This is no where near as much as dopers would expect to achieve. Certainly, it doesn't hurt -- and it does indeed improve performance, but I don't think that CVAC alone explains the phenomenal endurance of some of today's tennis players.

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  7. Nadal has a close call with Stepanek in IW so of course he says the back is still bothering him - even though he won a tournament in Rio a couple weeks ago.

    For 2014, back is the new knee!

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    1. 'He says the back is now "healthy," bad news for his opponents in the California desert.'

      Apparently not.

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    2. He says here (French press) he has no confidence in his serve because he's scared of hurting his back again if he goes full throttle. He adds it's not as bad as in Rio (where he won), though: http://www.eurosport.fr/tennis/masters-indian-wells/2014/indian-wells-nadal-toujours-perturbe-par-son-dos_sto4166252/story.shtml

      The "beauty" with Nadal is that he always sets up a potential loss by invoking a potential injury. Rafael Nadal = the only player in ATP to be unbeaten*.

      *When 100% healthy

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  8. It's so hard for me to understand how a former pro can say something like that, in the steroid rage era of Nadal and Co.: http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/tennis-henman-believes-doping-significant-tennis-142833776--ten.html

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    1. "When you see what's happened in cycling, for example, it's a catastrophe for the sport. We've got to make sure that isn't going to happen in tennis and I don't think it will."

      Nor do I, Tim, don't worry. What are we wishing for, that no one does what Lance did, or that no one gets exposed like Lance did? The latter would satisfy Tim's wishes and is far easier to control.. And honestly, the defensive, somewhat desparate posture of the sentiment makes it seem he doesn't want tennis to 'get caught' because it will ruin tennis. Players doping isn't a catastrophe for tennis - People love watching tennis even with suspicious behaviour throughout the season - Players doping AND GETTING CAUGHT is catastrophic for tennis.

      Again, tennis is being chalked up as a skill sport and therefore not one that would facilitate advantages from doping. Is he really proposing this tired argument again? Is this actually a Stuart Miller piece that's had his name replaced with Tim Henman?

      I know this has been beaten to death but if there are two players of similar skill level and one of them dopes, then they likely hold the advantage. The amount of extra possible training, recovery between matches, recovery between points, speed and endurance during matches, longevity throughout the year will all increase. Every single one of those is advantageous. Skill being a big component of tennis is a red herring. Even if you were to somehow argue that tennis is 90% skill and 10% athleticism, manipulating that 10% would certainly prove advantageous, especially when we consider both the fact that physical recovery aids lengthier training/practice. In this era of slow courts, baseline ball bashing, running and retrieving I doubt very much 90/10 would be a responsible ratio to decide upon. Even players with reasonable skill can perform well through physicality (like Ferrer).

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    2. I concur with the above. Tennis is now more a 50/50 game where skill and physicality are concerned. You can have all the skill you want, but just being able to continue serving at the same level in a best of match requires tremendous physical strength and stamina. Anybody who says otherwise has no clue as to what the game is.

      Heck I think the game was at least a 65/45 in terms of skill and physicality back in the Sampras era. Pete even mentions in his book that handsy (players who had very skilled hands) in tennis rarely got anywhere, and it was the harder workers who got their bodies into position and performed the stroke using the entire physique who usually won matches.

      Of course the fact that Sampras says now that he believes tennis is doping free is probably PR. Good publicity is one of the things the bodies governing tennis has worked on tirelessly over the years; so it is unlikely that you will see a break from this culture and see a Nadal, Djokovic or Federer get caught doping.

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  9. It's a little off topic but I would like to express my opinion about something. Are you - Roger fanatics, really that dumb or you just like to act as dumb people? Which one describes you better? Has anyone of you fanatics watched the Indian Wells final? Ok, maybe you're right about one thing. Doping. perhaps, gave Nadal a big edge over opponents at the beginning of his career, speculating that it was only him at those times that juiced up for big tourneys (smth I don't beleive in). And yes - Nadal has always been the most suspicious guy on tour considering his "injuries", drastic differences between performances at different tourneys, etc.... But hey, this is how doping affects Rafa and only Rafa. He's obviously the guy who benefits the most from juicing and maybe nature does play a significant role in his case. But it doesen't mean that Roger has never doped. Everybody dopes nowadays, unfortunately, in big sports. I am European and my even bigger pain is that doping is to same extent crucial for success in soccer, as it is for tennis. The last evidence is the Indian Wells final. Come on, guys. Are you for real blind to admit that your hero is also a cheat (as everybody else from the big guns). Your hero was at least equal to Djokovic, both physically and menatally. And it has always been funny to me reading posts here complaining about Rafa being bigger, stronger and faster. Well, in my opinon, doped or not, that is again nature - Federer has technical advantage, better serve, etc, and Rafa is simply bigger, stronger and faster. What is so weird about that? My point is that it is at least unethical to devote such a brainwashing blog to Rafa. (whatever you say, most of the posters here are Fed fans and number 1 cheater is always mentioned to be Rafa).

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    1. I'm a Federer fan. Is this proof that I'm dumb? No. I accuse Nadal of most probably being a serious doper. Is this proof that I'm dumb? No. I consider it a possibility that Federer is doping as well. Is this proof that I'm dumb? No. Based on the typical indicators, I think that Nadal is more likely to be a doper than Federer. Is this proof that I'm dumb? No. I demand for more serious doping controls, and drastic public punishments (not silent bans) for those who are guilty (no matter if they are Swiss or Spanish). Is this proof that I'm dumb? No.

      But let's be fair, you not only ask if I'm dumb, you also consider the possibility of me acting like dumb. You might actually be right on this one. I still care about tennis and watch the matches, like if there was no doping involved. Long time I stopped caring about cycling and the winners of the tours. That continuous interest in tennis, assuming that there might eventually fair conditions for all players, is in fact an effort of acting like dumb, against all better intuition.

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    2. Rafa is mentioned frequently because he's the most suspicious case by far. Way more than Federer, Djokovic... Actually, if you visit this blog frequently, you can assess that the suspicious here is pretty much against everyone. Even Federer and Djokovic. So, you can stop that strange argument you got there.

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  10. http://www.svtplay.se/klipp/1898291/exklusivt-mote-med-rafael-nadal

    Some comments by Nadal about doping at about 3:15. Does he look like he is lying ?

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  12. Nadal lost early in Indian Wells. This gives him plenty of time to "prepare" for a run in Miami. Who wants to bet his goal is to win Miami for the first time? I'm so sceptical of this guy that every time he loses early I just assume there's a plan. Nothing against Dolgopolov but let's be realistic.

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