Sorry if this has been posted before...
Extracts from the book: TENNIS: OFF THE RECORD
The following extracts are from the book with the same title as this thread. It is being published this coming week and has already caused some controversy.
"In the spring of 2003, panic begins to spread at the ATP headquarter in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Within a short time they have received seven reports of doped tennis players.
The reports stems from the Swedish company International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM), which for approximately one year has been taking care of testing for doping of tennisplayers under ATP. One of the doped players is 'sentenced' (Bohdan Ulihrach), but is later aquitted of the charges and the six other cases/charges are laid to rest. One year later another player (Greg Rusedski) is aquitted of charges for using doping.
We have dug up what appears to be not only the greatest doping scandal within tennis, but also one of the greatest in the history of sports" /.../
"The American Andre Agassi is only one of many top-stars who have been mentioned often as part of the gossip surrounding the possible use of doping, in spite of that he is one of the players on the tour who have been tested most often. The reason for this gossip is the fact that he is able to transform himself within a month from being slightly overweight and weak into becoming trimmed and strong.
These stretches of recuperation and build-up he often spends in his hometown of Las Vegas, and when it's time for a comeback on the tour, he simply amazes competitors, doctors, physiotherapists and masseurs as he suddenly appears stronger than ever. This was the case prior to the AO in 2002. AA showed topform when he played at the warm-up tournament at the Kooyong stadium, and was favoured as one the most probable to win the AO tournament the way he had won it 3 times earlier.
However, only a few hours before the start of the AO competition in Melbourne, the American skipped the tournament and no sooner was there talk about that his own medical staff had been taking tests that showed that the American would not have been able to pass a doping test.
A number of tennis' great players have to live with the same accusations. If they have been away from the tour for say 6 months, then speculations begin to skirmish. If the player afterwards can't prove that he actually underwent surgery or in any other way can't convince the surroundings of his actual illness, then the accusations will be left standing that he has been put on suspension in secrecy (for doping that is) or that he has chosen not to play in order to wait for the final results." /.../
"In the summer of 2003 all the normal routines are suddenly broken.
The questioning of players and witnesses is rapidly pushed aside in the Tribunal which has otherwise used to conduct lengthy cross-examinations. The primary aim this time is to get to a quick finish of the examinations about the doping cases.
The seven positive doping tests are submitted in the time period betwéen August 2002 and May 2003. Normally these matters would have been treated and finished off in the period from between August 2003 and ending May 2004. But already the at the 16. of June 2003, ATP accepts the theory that it happened to be the organisation's own personnel who was the cause of the positive doping tests. This would apparently have happened by distributing vitamins and other products to the players which during the production had been contaminated with a forbidden substance that caused the Nandrolone doping.
ATP supports it's finding by the fact that in the contents of further 36 doping tests they have found the presence of Nandrolone at a level just under the allowed limit of 2.0 nanogram per mililiter, and claim that it would be impossible for so many players to have consciously placed themselves in a position where they risked to be suspended or relegated from play. This theory is put forward and accepted just 5 weeks after the start of the investigation and this in spite of that there was no sure evidence in favour of it.
However, the misery does not stop there. At the same time it is decided that these actions (leading to a possible doping suspension) are not to be investigated at a later time. This is a very remarkable decision, which also, as shown later, shall prove to be most unfortunate.
The theory proposed by the ATP is evidently wrong. All of the remaining tablets and drinks that have been suspected of containing doping are subsequently analysed.
Not one of these remaining items show up to be contaminated.
But this finding comes to late as the ATP have already decided to close and bury the case." /.../
"The Argentinian, Guillermo Coria, gets away with 7 months of suspension in 2002 after he tested positive for taking anabolic steroids. ATP gave the explanation then that the low penalty was due to that the Argentinian lacked school education and therfore could not get aquainted with the information about what the tablets contained. The supension stopped Coria from any participation in the ATP and Gran Slam tournaments as well as any display matches. Coria and his counselors ought to have been more than happy with the verdict as he was allowed to return to the tennis circuit 17 months earlier than if he had received a normal full suspension verdict of two years.
But the fast and technical Argentinian was not satisfied with this. He wanted to provoke. During the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires where he would normally have been of the major stars, he played an exhibition game in front of a full crowd in the stadium. The match was not arranged by some devious and less caring persons, but by people who run the ATP tournament in Buenos Aires. ATP got news about the break of his suspension but saw no necessity for fining either him nor the arrangers.
A number of players contacted the ATP boss, Mark Miles, who however declined to interveen. This signals that he obviously thinks that suspended players should have the right to play exhibition matches even though the rules says otherwise.
Two years before Coria's suspension, his countryman, Juan Ignacio Chela, got caught. But he evaded penalty even easier. During questioning he said that he thought that what later showed up to be anabolic steroids happened to be normal vitamin pills - and the ATP bought that explanation. This meant that Chela could return to the game after only 3 months of suspension
Chela and Coria got company during 2003 on the list of doping-suspended Argentinians. The person was Mariano Puerta, who gave a positive test during the ATP tournament in Vina del Mar, Chile, containing the prohibited substance, Clenbuterol, an astmatic medicine - used to treat horses normally.
[Mariano Puerta got his suspension reduced to 6 months because he was a family provider. When Roger Federer watched Puerta playing on TV during the French Open, he shook his head and said: "It stinks of horseshit"]
The South American trio has one common denominator: they are all treated by the same doctors.
But no one can prove that this factor is the cause of the positive doping tests." /.../
"It is by no means desirable that tennis ends up in the same position as athletics, where a number of arrangers have barred
sprinter-queen Marion Jones. after it's been rumoured that she has been doped. If the tennis world had acted in the same fashion, then, e.g., the Argentinian Guillermo Canas would have stood out with his absence from the tour for many years, despite the fact that he only in February of 2005 got caught with a positive doping test during the ATP-tournament in Acapulco.
Canas is - by the way - another example of the extra-ordinary long case handling time for doping cases in tennis. In spite of having given a positive test after the QF loss against Rafael Nadal, he was allowed to play on as if nothing had happened. He played another 9 tournaments after Acapulco, reached, e.g., the SF in Miami, QF at FO, SF in Halle and had reached the spot of no. 8 in the worldranking for 2005. Then he suddenly withdrew from Wimbledon and a few days later he admitted to his own guilt, even though he blurred his testimony by saying he had a victim of allergy.
Canas was caught with the substance hydrochlorothiazide (hct), which is a forbidden diuretic compound that is used to cover up for the use of anabolic steroids. Earlier on he American doubles specialist, Oliver Graydon, has been measured with to high levels of diuretic substances in the blood/urine.
Graydon, who played for the Swedish team Sandareds TK and used to be the boyfriend of Swedish athletics star, Jenny Kallur, got away with 2 months suspension, as the levels measured in his test were only marginally higher than the allowed limit.
In the case of Canas, the levels were more significant.
His test, which was submitted 21. of February and carries the number 384347, was analysed on the 9. of March. It was concluded that the limits for the substance was clearly overstepped.
During the investigation of the case, information pertaining to the above mentioned case from two years earlier (where 36 players had levels just below the acceptable level) of high - but still legal - levels of Nandrolone surfaces, and - not surprisingly - it's revealed that Canas was one those 36 players.
August 8 this year, Canas is sentenced to a two year suspension, and thereby he becomes the first well-known tennisplayer in history who is not given a significant reduction of suspension. His sentence is declared only a few weeks after we (the authors) have told ATP of our intention to reveal the truth about the doping policy of the organisation."/.../
"The fact that this way of looking at things is not shared by the ATP leadership is not surprising. But the reaction from the headquarter of the organisation is still very remarkable, when it's known that we (the authors) are undertaking an investigation of the cover-up about doping and that we also wants to investigate the overall doping policy of ATP.
The chief of the communications department of ATP sends out an e-mail to all ATP employees with strict instructions as to not answer any of our questions about doping.
It is David Higdorn who sends out the e-mail. Higdon has the title of vice-president in communications and according to the mail, only he can answer our questions
These orders are not followed by all employees, but none of them wishes be cited. On the contrary, they express fear of being fired if they openly talk about their private thoughts regarding the way ATP handles it's doping policy.
"It's a way of scaring us into silence and this is not the first time it's happening. This is a very typical American way of running a company", says one of the employees, who won't let himself be interviewed after having read the e-mail from Higdon. So it's up to Higdon to answer our questions.
Why has ATP not signed the Wada-code?
- There are certain minor items in the way of our signing.
What are these items?
- Mostly the unannounced tests. It is more difficult for tennisplayers than for others athletes to tell exactly where they'll be at different times. If a player is knocked out in the first round in a tournament, he might leave town.
Why do you think there has been such a rise in cases of doping in tennis since 2003?
– Where do you have any proof of that?
You can find it in the information on your homepage.
– It's still wrong to claim there has been an increase. There has been a number of minor cases, but overall it's wrong to conclude that there has been more instances.
Is doping a big problem in tennis?
– Doping is a potential problem in all sports, but in the tennis sport we have the toughest control program of all and every player know of the risks of being caught.
Why do you have shorter suspension periods than other sports?
– It's not decided by the ATP as such, but by an independent tribunal.
But it's still supervised by you?
– That's correct.
So there is a connection there?
– To insinuate anything the like by that statement is to bring into doubt the credibility of the tribunal." /.../
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