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Tuesday 10, Dec 2013

  Doping In Tennis Not A Problem

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Doping In Tennis Not A Problem

World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman has surprised all by remarking that tennis does not has a problem with performance enhancing drugs. In recent times, Viktor Troicki and Marin Cilic have received suspensions for testing positive and the anti-doping program of tennis has been criticized by several top tennis stars.

Big names like Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic have urged tennis’s governing body to do more testing. Howman applauded the demand for more stringent anti-doping measures but said the sport doesn’t have a major problem. Howman remarked he doesn’t think tennis has a problem, per se and he thinks tennis has a high profile issue in that the athletes at the helm are saying ‘we want more’ and he thinks that’s a good thing.

The WADA director general remarked he thinks if you have athletes praising the fight against doping and asking to be tested more, then the response from the national federation will be: ‘We will do it,’ and added if they don’t, they’ll be risking the wrath of their top players which he doesn’t think any international federation would want. Howman said having athletes speak out is the best possible progress we could make from our perspective and having athletes support what we do is even better and when we recall some of those tennis players, Andy Murray in particular, three or four years ago, he was very critical of anti-doping in general and now, he’s one of the ones calling for more, which shows a very good shift.

Howman, while referring to anti-doping measures in Jamaica, said he has gone through the recommendations that we’ve made, to make sure that their program returns to the robust program it was several years ago. He added that Jamaica’s Minister with responsibility for Sport, Natalie Neita Headley, has agreed entirely with the recommendations and some of those are strong and we have asked her to review the legislation in the country, we’ve asked her to review the governance of the body responsible for overseeing it and several other operational matters. He went to add that Neita came to him and said we are committing eight million Jamaican dollars to the program immediately and are hiring the people you suggested. Howman also added that he communicated to her that WADA will be monitoring and will get the country to work with one of the strong anti-doping agencies, so you get mentored properly and we’ll be reporting back to the board on that progress next year.

In a statement released in Kingston, the country’s minister with responsibility for sport recently said the Commissioners of Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission have taken a decision, in the national interest and in order to facilitate the re-structuring of JADCO, to tender their resignations which will take effect on December 31, 2013. JADCO has been under fire since former senior JADCO official Renee Anne Shirley said the authority had carried out just one out-of-competition test from February 2012 to the start of the London Olympics in July.

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Thursday 21, Mar 2013

  Spanish Doping Doctor May Shame Football And Other Sports

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Spanish Doping Doctor May Shame Football And Other Sports

The doctor at the center of the massive Operation Puerto blood doping trial has told the court that he would name the clients whose blood has been seized.

Eufemiano Fuentes, who is on trial for allegedly running a doping network in cycling and ran one of sport’s largest blood-doping rings, threatened to name all his former clients. The Spanish doctor made the offer through reporters during Spain’s Operation Puerto trial. Fuentes remarked that if the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Spanish drugs authorities consider that he can be useful and sought his help, he would be willing. He added that this would not be done for a reduced sentence but rather so there is mutual collaboration and also remarked they can have his client list if they want. Till now, only 54 cyclists, including Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Alejandro Valverde, have been personally implicated in the scandal.

Fuentes has admitted to having worked with people in football, tennis, boxing, and athletics and said cycling only comprised 30 percent of his work. This change of heart came as the world governing body of cycling urged the judge to show no leniency. The doctor faces up to two-and-a-half years in jail on public health charges and the five defendants on trial, including the Spanish doctor’s sister, Yolanda, will have one final opportunity to address the court on April 2 before sentencing commences. The defendants have been appearing in court since late January, almost seven years after police seized anabolic steroids, transfusion equipment and blood bags as part of an investigation code-named “Operation Puerto”.

The trial proceedings have attracted international scrutiny and attention as anti-doping authorities are hopeful that it will finally lead to evidence of wrongdoing by athletes in sports other than cycling. Previously, a request by WADA for access to the blood bags was repeatedly denied by the Spanish authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency awaits the ruling of the judge on their latest petition. Since the current anti-doping legislation of Spain was not in force in 2006 when the police raids took place, the defendants are tried for violating public health regulations with the prosecutor asking for jail sentences of two years.

In the past, German cyclist Joerg Jaksche told the Operation Puerto trial that the treatment he received from the Spanish doctor was designed to beat doping controls and had nothing to do with genuine health issues. Italian rider Ivan Basso, a double Giro d’Italia champion, told the court that he had blood extracted on three occasions at the clinic of another doctor implicated in the case but never had any reinjected. Spanish cyclist Angel Vicioso told the judge he had only met with Eufemiano Fuentes for sporadic medical consultations. Former cyclist Marcos Serrano contradicted testimony from former team director Manolo Saiz, one of the five defendants along with Fuentes, by saying he never personally sought out medical treatment from the disgraced Spanish doctor. Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador who was originally scheduled to appear as a witness was told he would not be required to appear in court after Manolo Saiz’s attorney renounced the witness statement he had requested from the cyclist.

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Sunday 17, Mar 2013

  Federer And Murray Welcome Biological Passports

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Federer and murray welcome biological passports

Roger Federer and Andy Murray, two tennis stars who have been outspoken in recent times to make a call for more stringent anti-doping measures in tennis, have welcomed the introduction of biological passports for players.

A few days back, the International Tennis Federation announced the move in London after a meeting of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program working group that includes representatives from the ITF, ATP, WTA, and grand slam tournaments. There was unanimous support for the introduction of the passport, which is used to detect variances in biological make-up that might indicate doping and has been introduced in cycling, the ITF said.

As Federer prepared to launch his defense of the Indian Wells ATP Masters title, he said that is a good news and added we have to do everything to ensure our tour is as clean as it possibly can be so that the cheaters think twice, that they get caught if they do cheat. The former world no. 1 added he believed the players were prepared to accept the measures, even though increased testing means more intrusion into the lives of players. He noted one reason was the long-delayed admission by cyclist Lance Armstrong that he used banned drugs in all seven of his Tour de France victories. The disgraced cyclist recently made a confession on a talk show after being stripped of the titles and given a lifetime ban from cycling for his role in systematic doping on his US Postal Service team.

The cycling issue has been around for quite some time, but what happened this year was obviously super-extreme and I think that really gets you sort of thinking, said the Swiss professional tennis player who, as of March 2013, is ranked world No. 2 by the ATP.

ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett said the men’s circuit was behind the move and the players are clear that they support increased investment in anti-doping and we feel that this is the most effective way to show the world that tennis is a clean sport.

US Open champion Andy Murray of Scotland also welcomed the move by the ITF and said it is one of the best ways to ensure your sport stays as clean as possible and it’s good tennis has made that jump.

The biological profiling system is considered as one of the most effective methods of detecting the use of performance enhancing drugs and blood boosters like EPO. The The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) is an electronic record of an athlete’s biological values, which is developed over time from multiple collections of blood samples.

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said the implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport is an important step in the evolution of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program as it provides us with a great tool in the fight against doping in our sport and added we also hope to have increased support from the national anti-doping agencies around the world who need to do their part if we are to win this battle and make our program more effective.

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Thursday 14, Mar 2013

  Tennis’s Biological Passport Idea Criticized By Anti-Doping Expert

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Tennis’s Biological Passport Idea Criticized By Anti-Doping Expert

Don Catlin, considered to be one of the founders of modern drug-testing and one of the sport’s most respected anti-doping experts, has issued a damning indictment of attempts by tennis to step up its drug testing program and questioned whether it has the money or the desire to make it work.

Last week, tennis officials announced that tennis is to adopt the athlete biological passport that effectively tests for the likely existence of drugs rather than for specific substances. Catlin remarked he would tell them not to bother and they are better off to increase the number of tests they do rather than spend it all on the passport. The anti-doping expert added that doubling or tripling urine tests would be of more value than starting a passport because you need such a long lead-in and you need data over four or five years. The man behind the renowned UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory believes the sport is reacting to pressure rather than tackling the big problems for the right reasons.

Now president and chief executive officer of Anti-Doping Research, a company in Los Angeles, Catlin added that it is always hard to be critical of someone when they’re trying to do something that’s worthwhile and tennis would have done better if it was able to start with the top 100 male players and then test them five times a year but tennis cannot afford to do that or does not want to.

The athlete biological passport creates individual blood profiles instead of testing for specific, performance enhancing drugs and a doping case may be opened if athletes deviate from set parameters over time. Tennis has already tested for erythropoietin through urine and human growth hormone through blood.

In signing up to the passport, the funding partners in the program: the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association, and four grand slam events, agreed to increase their contributions, lifting the overall budget to an estimated $3.5m. However, Catlin remarked he thought the budget was still way too low.

The International Tennis Federation defended the decision to adopt the passport in a statement and said the Anti-Doping Working Group has identified the introduction of biological passports as a key enhancement of the detection and deterrence of doping under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and the implementation of the passport in accordance with Wada’s [the World Anti-Doping Agency] recommendations, including the required budget, is now being discussed by the four parties in the program.

Things will barely change unless tennis finds significantly more money to do enough tests, Catlin said and added tennis is way behind other sports, in my opinion and doping is never going to go away and there needs to be independent testing.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer applauded the announcement that tennis will introduce biological passports for players and urged the sport to make the ATP Tour “as clean as it possibly can be” with a broad approach. The 17-time grand slam winner Federer said he thinks tennis has done a good job of trying everything to be as clean as possible but we are entering a new era.

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Sunday 03, Mar 2013

  Ex-World No. 4 Claims He Fought Against Dopers

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Ex-World No. 4 Claims He Fought Against Dopers

Performance enhancing drugs have been in the spotlight again after former tennis world number four Guy Forget claimed he was beaten by rivals who took drugs.

Three players – Ryan Newport from the United States, Bulgarian Dimitar Kutrovsky and Italian Filippo Calorosi – are presently suspended from playing tennis for taking performance enhancing drugs and the former world number 4 believes they are not the only men on the circuit guilty of doping. Guy Forget claims he played against players who were doping by saying he has lost matches against guys who beat me with an unfair advantage because they were taking drugs and added that he can look at himself in the mirror knowing that he never took anything.

Forget added he does not feel that sport is clean and tennis is not untouched by this poisonous thing. He, however, added that this is a minority probably, but that is why Roger Federer and the other guys says we should put more money into blood test and controls because we should fight this any way we can.

Australian coach Darren Cahill, who has coached Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, said our testing program is inadequate and that’s why no-one can stand up and speak out; it’s gone backwards in recent years. Current world number one Novak Djokovic recently said the number of blood tests he has undergone has dropped in the last year and remarked he wasn’t tested with blood for last six, seven months and it was more regularly in last two, three years ago. Djokovic added he didn’t know the reason why they stopped it.

Dr. Stuart Miller, who oversees the ITF’s anti-doping program, says we can improve by introducing what is known as the athlete biological passport, which is a blood-based testing program which allows you to establish individual baseline parameters and there is a reasonably good chance that that it will be operational probably towards the end of 2013. Of Forget’s complaints, Miller said anti-doping was very different when Forget was playing as there was no such thing as the World Anti-Doping Agency, there was no list of prohibited substances that all the sports signed up to and actually tennis was one of the pioneering sports in introducing anti-doping testing back in Forget’s time.

In the late 1980s, the Men’s Tennis Council began drug testing with the focus mainly on recreational drugs and the testing was extended to include performance enhancing drugs when the ATP Tour was formed in 1990. Today, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) leads a unified Tennis Anti-Doping Program applying across all tennis events. The ITF is now thinking on the lines of introducing an athlete biological passport (ABP) which allows officials to collect and compare biological data and spot variances that suggest doping.

Meanwhile, four-time grand slam winner Maria Sharapova is confident she is competing on a level playing field and remarked she feels tennis is clean for the amount of times that we get tested throughout the year and as random as they are, definitely.

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Saturday 02, Mar 2013

  Anti-Doping Program Funding Increased By Tennis

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Anti-Doping Program Funding Increased By Tennis

Tennis authorities will meet next week to plug a hole in the anti-doping efforts of the sport in the wake of concerns inside and outside of tennis of its relatively small budget for preventing doping in tennis.

According to an official of the United States Tennis Association,  the U.S. Open and the other majors would roughly double their current financial contribution from about $150,000 to $300,000 every year. Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation will also be increasing its contribution to the fund, but it is unclear if the WTA and ATP Tour, which also help pay for the anti-doping program of the sport, will increase funding. The ITF, which runs the anti-doping program of tennis, has a budget of roughly $1.6 million, according to previously published reports and it is not known how much it spends on anti-doping.

In the year 2011, the International Tennis Federation had conducted just 21 out-of-competition blood tests, which are the latest figures available. A founder and former chairman of the World Anti-doping Agency, Dick Pound, called the 2011 figure “very small” in an interview last fall.

Many top tennis players such as Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic have called for increased testing, especially out-of-competition blood testing, which is more costly but can better detect banned substances such as the blood-booster erythropoietin, or EPO, in the light of Lance Armstrong’s admission of systemized doping. Top players expressed fears that tennis authorities are not keeping up with those seeking an unfair advantage, especially those using these drugs to increase strength and stamina to new levels.

In 2011, the majority of the 2,150 tests conducted were urine tests and only about 10% were done outside of tournament competition. New funds will beef up tennis’s anti-doping program to tackle problems such as blood tests, out-of-competition tests in general and promote the need and importance of a biological passport program. Stuart Miller, who heads up the anti-doping program for the ITF, said that he expects those areas to be targeted, “subject to receiving the increased contributions.”

ATP spokesman Simon Higson, said we fully support a rigorous program, and if that means more or different ways of testing, then we will be happy to support it and also remarked that we remain fully committed to ensuring a level playing field and a clean sport for our players, tournaments and fans, and will continue to evolve our program as necessary. Andrew Walker, a WTA spokesman, said the women’s tour has been an “aggressive in advocating” for the ITF to explore and implement any changes to strengthen the anti-doping program and added that the WTA is fully committed to a strong anti-doping program and we have been aggressive in advocating within the governing body group that oversees the program to explore and implement effective changes as required to strengthen the program.

“If they do take blood samples throughout the year I think that’s OK,” 18th-ranked Milos Raonic of Canada said this month while winning the SAP Open in San Jose, California “I just want the sport to be clean.”

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Tuesday 22, Jan 2013

  Spain Accused Of A Doping Cover-Up

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Spain Accused Of A Doping Cover-Up

The Spanish government has been accused of suppressing evidence that linked tennis and football stars to a notorious doctor. The doctor will go on trial in Madrid in the next few days and has been described as a “one-man Wal-Mart” of doping.

Spanish detectives have been collecting evidence from all across Europe against Dr Eufemiano Fuentes since first raiding his offices in 2006. The investigation, known as “Operation Puerto”, has disclosed one of the most extensive drug rings in the history of sports. The appearance of Fuentes will mark the start of a trial expected to last two months; the doctor has been charged with public health offenses and the rampant culture of drug use in cycling may get exposed again, just a few days after the dramatic confession of the disgraced cycling champion, Lance Armstrong, to Oprah Winfrey on US television.

The Spanish authorities have ruled that the case will only cover his involvement in cycling despite the fact that the tainted doctor has freely admitted to working with professional cyclists, tennis, and football players. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been left infuriated by the failure to explore the work of Fuentes outside cycling in court. Dave Howman, WADA’s director general, said the agency has been banging its heads against a brick wall to get access to evidence that was collected and it is not only frustrating and disappointing but it also means that many athletes who might be dirty have been allowed to compete. Howman further added that the anti-doping agency is told that the doctor’s patients were across a number of sports and it was disappointing that cycling was the only sport isolated.

Spain was something of a wild west frontier for doping before the Operation Puerto case as it was not illegal in Spain at the time.

The International Cycling Union (UCI)  president Pat McQuaid said it is disappointing to learn that only cycling was investigated despite the fact that Fuentes said it himself, 30 per cent of his clients were cyclists.

During a raid on the office of Fuentes, police found fridges filled with bags of blood and labelled with code names such as Bella, Son of Ryan, and Zapatero as well as extensive written records. Star names such as Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso, and Jan Ullrich were implicated along with many other cyclists in the doping ring; all 54 cyclists were eventually suspended, but many others were cleared.

Fuentes is suspected by German police to have worked with footballers at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Jorge Jaksche, whose career was ended by Operation Puerto, said the doctor boasted about his work with other sportsmen. The German rider further added that blood bags were pulled out from fridges, according to videos made by the police during the raid. These bags had specific code names written on them to identify the athletes but these names never appear in the report and there is a big cover-up by the Spanish government and remarked that there is no interest from on high in too much information coming out.

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Wednesday 21, Nov 2012

  More Doping Tests Coming, Says Tennis Boss

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More Doping Tests Coming, Says Tennis Boss

Roger Federer and Andy Murray have been criticized by Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), for their doubts about the anti-doping program of the organization.

Bitti also remarked that he is considering doing more tests next year, especially out-of-competition blood tests. The ITF head remarked that till a few years ago, players were complaining because they were being tested and now they are complaining they are not tested enough.

Doubts were expressed by Federer and Murray about the anti-doping program in the wake of Lance Armstrong doping scandal that has shaken cycling and sport in general. Federer recently said he feels like being tested less now than six or seven years ago and said he agrees with Andy that we do not do a lot of blood tests during the year.

A veteran Italian sports official who is also a member of the executive committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Ricci Bitti, remarked in Prague during the Davis Cup final that what Federer said could be true of him, since testing is allocated by drawing lots but said he doesn’t think they are right. However, Bitti remarked that they surely help us by making such remarks as it allows us to move in the direction in which we want to proceed ahead but still it is strange that they change their minds a lot.

The head of ITF further remarked that defining ‘out of competition’ in tennis is harder, because ‘out’ is rather before or after the competition but the Tennis Federation will try to increase the percentage of tests done out of competition, blood tests, and the number of tests in general.

Ricci Bitti warned that tests done out of competition, blood tests, and the number of tests in general are the three areas on which we are working with our partners (the Grand Slams, the ATP and the WTA) but the ITF needs consensus, because increasing the program means a lot of money. According to the latest statistics of the ITF, 2150 tests were carried out in the sport in 2011, of which only 131 were blood tests and only 21 were done out of competition of the latter. Ricci Bitti said we believe that our anti-doping program is absolutely good and our work is highly appreciated in terms of quality.

But the ITF head was quick to accept some criticism by saying that he believes that ITF is a little bit exposed in terms of quantity and remarked he is not pretentious as to think that we can catch all cheats but confident that tennis is a clean sport. He went on to remark that ITF needs to improve its program but he is pretty much confident that tennis cannot have an Armstrong case that was  highly organized and scientific system, which is not the case with tennis.

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was stripped of his titles by the ruling cycling body UCI after the United States Anti-Doping Agency said in a report he was involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

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Monday 10, Sep 2012

  David Savic Given Lifetime Ban

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David savic given lifetime ban

Serbian tennis player David Savic has been given a lifetime ban after a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found that Savic “made invitations to another tennis player to fix the outcome” of matches.

With this suspension, Savic would be “permanently ineligible to participate in any event organized or sanctioned by any tennis governing body,” the court ruled. Appeal of the tennis player was rejected by the three-lawyer panel. Savic made an appeal against a life ban imposed last year by the sport’s Tennis Integrity Unit, which was created by the International Tennis Federation and men’s and women’s professional tours for prosecuting allegations of corruption.

Born on August 23, 1985, David Savic played as a wild card in the doubles main draw in the Serbia Open from 2009 to 2011. The 26-year-old is world ranked 659th and was found guilty of “contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event.” Savic has never played above the challenger circuit.

The Serbian remarked that he was set up by a “current top player” who said Savic asked him to fix a match in exchange for money. The player is the second to receive a lifetime ban for match-fixing after Austrian Daniel Koellerer who was banned in May 2011. The Court, however, ruled that the Serbian should not pay the $100,000 fine imposed by the Tennis Integrity Unit.

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) initiated an investigation against Savic in 2010 and found that the player made invitations to another tennis player for fixing the outcome of tennis matches. This information was provided to the Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer (AHO) who ruled on 30 September 2011 that David Savic had committed a corruption offence under the Uniform Tennis Anti-Corruption (UTAP) rules.

Savic filed a statement of appeal on 27 October 2011 with the Court of Arbitration for Sport requesting that such decision be annulled, together with the sanctions imposed. A panel Dr Dirk-Reiner Martens, Germany (President), the Hon. Michael J. Beloff QC, United Kingdom and Mr David W. Rivkin, USA, heard the parties and their experts/witnesses either in person or via video-conference at a hearing held at the CAS headquarters in Lausanne on 29 March 2012.

Arguments of the player were rejected and it was concluded that the disputed facts had been proven not only by preponderance of the evidence, but indeed to the comfortable satisfaction of the CAS panel. The punishment imposed on Savic followed the reasoning of the CAS Panel in the Daniel Koellerer case that found it would not be right to impose a financial penalty in addition to the lifetime ban as the sanction of permanent ineligibility provides for the deterrence that corruption offences call for. The former world number 55, Koellerer, was found guilty of three charges under the Uniform Tennis Anti-Corruption Program and banned for match fixing. The charges against the 27-year-old Austrian include “contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event” between October 2009 and July 2010.

In 2009, Savic reached a career-high No.363 ranking and claimed he was made a scapegoat to become “a drastic example for other players.”

David Savic Given Lifetime Ban

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Sunday 01, Jan 2012

  Serena goes into panic

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Tennis star Serena Williams lost her mind recently when her security cameras picked up a potential intruder, and resulted in her locking herself in her ‘panic room’ and have her assistant dial 911.

The suspected intruder was only a representative of a tennis association stopping by to conduct a urine test on Serena.

Serena Williams has been suspected of using anabolic steroids and was deathly ill from possible side effects this past March.