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Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

http://www.tennis.com/Tennis_World_B...p?ENTRY_ID=730

<snip>At the end of last year, when the WTA and ATP championships were plagued by no-shows and pullouts, everyone blamed the usual source—the calendar. But how do you explain the continuation of this trend at the Australian Open? Well, Reuters found a way to blame the lack of an off season and the Australian Open dates and organizers. That’s hooey.

I’ve made the case in detail before, so I’m just going with the short version here: The players are not forced to play insane schedules. Fulfilling their basic commitments leaves them plenty of room to rest, recuperate, and travel. The insanity kicks in when they are unable to resist huge appearance fees or offers to play exhibitions—or when other factors come into play. I’ve now officially joined the crowd that suspects there’s more going on here than scheduling troubles, and it ain’t good.

The most recent blow to the Australian Open was the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal. How about this, as the money quote from the ATP’s official news release:


Nadal has been undergoing several biomechanical studies in Barcelona. He has been working with a new shoe insole to release pressure on the area, which he suffered a left-foot fracture on over a year ago, and the inflammation provoked in the surrounding joints.

"We can fortunately say that we don't have an injured player but a player in a re-adaptation process. I have seen his foot today and it looks well," says Dr. Ruiz-Cotorro, who is in charge of the treatment." He had an injury on his foot that has heeled {sic} although the recovery process is very slow.

Great. Nadal’s foot is OK now, his doctor says, so he’s pulling out of the Australian Open!

I can understand Andre Agassi’s withdrawal and Marat Safin’s continuing hiatus a little more easily than Nadal’s decision. Safin had knee surgery and hasn't played at all in half a year. Agassi is 35, with a lot more going on in his life than when he was 19 or 20. For a player of his stature, a Grand Slam is, financially speaking, a loss leader. The million bucks he can make for winning the whole shooting match requires an investment of at least a month—and keep in mind that if he were “merely” the runner-up, earning just a little more than half what the champ gets, he takes a big financial hit.

But this isn’t really about money. This is about the integrity of the game, at various levels, and in various areas. Oh sure, the ongoing disarray—it borders on chaos, if you think about it; no result is without an asterisk anymore—could all be one big, unfortunate coincidence—just a patch of bad luck for the Australian Open and tennis fans worldwide.

My fear is that it’s something much, much worse than that.<snip>

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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

He's not the first to do so, and he probably won't be the last

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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

http://www.tennis.com/Tennis_World_B...p?ENTRY_ID=732

It’s theoretically a day off for me as I gear up to cover the Australian Open (I’ll be blogging live from Melbourne during Week Two of the season’s first Grand Slam). But the strikingly thoughtful responses and comments to my last post, along with some of the critical, entirely legitimate questions they raise, call for some clarifications and further comments.

First of all, keep in mind that the doper's best friend is the benumbing complexity and unavoidable ambiguity of the anti-doping effort. A few months ago, I linked to this Outside magazine story that makes painfully clear how difficult it is for the dope police to keep up with the bent doctors and juicers; in fact, the effort to police the use of performance enhancing drugs is borderline futile.

But what are you going to do? Allow doping? Talk the talk, but look the other way as soon as there’s even a hint of a problem (as I believe the ATP and WTA have done for years)?

Some of you would like me to delve into the science of doping, and/or present more facts and concrete evidence instead of speculating and trafficking in innuendo. Here’s a question for you: When was the last time a newspaper or magazine broke a major doping story? The recent spate of exclusives from the French sports daily, L’Equipe, don’t count—all they did was jump the gun on announcing positive test results for some athletes thanks to a friendly leaker somewhere in the anti-doping establishment.

Many major, resource-rich newspapers and magazines in this country and abroad employ full-time, highly trained investigative reporters—something I am not. Yet even they have broken precious few primary-level doping stories— that is, I don’t know of any that actually discovered that someone was doping, and proved it. What stories we have all seem to be driven by either announced test results or individuals stepping forward to confess—or fire the first salvos of accusation. This tells you how tough it is to catch a doper red-handed, or to make specific, supportable accusations.

In fact—and this is a constant theme of mine—doping is such an ambiguous subject that the real danger lies in falling into a train of thought that runs something like this: We know doping exists. We haven’t caught anyone doping. Therefore, everyone must be doping. That’s the allure of conspiracy theories—the very lack of evidence becomes a form of evidence.

Why have I wandered into this morass, then? The answer has two related parts:

First of all, at this site I am a blogger—an opinion journalist and commentator. I have neither the mandate nor the responsibility to deal strictly and exclusively with facts and/or the thoughts or opinions of others about those facts. At the same time, though, my opinion cannot ignore or fly in the face of what facts exist. The moment that the facts and my opinion are in demonstrable conflict, my opinions is invalidated. Two plus two equals four, we’ve all agreed; if I insist it adds up to five, that’s my problem, not the number four’s.

Secondly, I am supposed to be a kind of interface between tennis fans and the pro game. Someone higher up in the food chain has decided that it’s worth paying me to comment on the pro game for the benefit of the folks who troll TENNIS.com and/or read TENNIS Magazine, which makes it incumbent on me to report what people in the game are thinking and saying. Trust me: Doping is a burning, omnipresent topic on the pro tour these days. I owe it to you to tackle it, and I am proud that as a blogger I can do that in a way that a newspaper reporter cannot.

Now, for some specific issues. I fear the worst about doping because it appears that the floodgates of bad news have been opened by the change in the anti-drug testing protocols. The player organizations (ATP and WTA) are no longer in charge of testing; when they were, all was quiet on the doping front. It's a different landscape now. You can read why and how this came about at this page of the ITF’s anti-doping website.

Is it mere coincidence that we’ve had a sudden explosion of positive tests? Why have the increasingly puzzling scheduling habits of so many players suddenly become front-burner issues? Draw back and look at this in perspective; it seems to me that we’re in the midst of an undeclared, unannounced shake-up.

The ITF anti-doping website will give you access to lots of valuable information on doping, if you’re interested in details on banned substances, penalties, procedures, etc. This just isn’t an area in which it makes much sense for me to play the expert. Read that article I linked to in Outside; it’s a great primer on the nature of the doping problem.

When it comes to the players, nobody, but nobody, is above suspicion; this doesn’t mean that I suspect everyone—or, for that matter, anyone. It just means that I don’t believe anyone is immune to the temptation of dabbling in performance-enhancing drugs. Top pro athletes, like fabulously wealthy venture capitalists, exist in a different world. They are playing for much higher stakes, with much deeper pockets, which opens up possibilities unimaginable to many of us. I’ll never forget Boris Becker, a close friend, telling me about the transfusions of calf blood he took as part of his drive to remain “fresh” for the game (it was not illegal) when he was making a big push for the No. 1 ranking. Boris was very matter-of-fact and blasé about it; he had to do what he had to do. But it struck me as pure science fiction.

So, as far as I’m concerned, everyone from Roger Federer on down to the most desperate journeyman is a potential doper. It just wouldn’t be fair to look at it any other way. In this regard, some readers accused me of “protecting” Andre Agassi while planting suspicions about Rafael Nadal when I analyzed their withdrawals from the Australian Open yesterday.

The fact is that up-and-coming champs and aging ones are vastly different, and driven by vastly different priorities. I’m not going to rehash the details, but I’ll say that in ways related strictly to his career and family life, it makes a lot of sense, in lots of different ways, for Agassi to skip the Australian Open and start his year a full two months after his younger rivals.

By contrast, the upcoming Grand Slam event offers Nadal his best shot at winning a major on a surface other than clay, and moving one step closer to challenging Federer’s ascendancy—something Agassi is unlikely to do in the foreseeable future.

Given the amount of time he’s had off and the fact that Nadal’s own doctor said in an official ATP press release that his foot is healed, I find his withdrawal from an event that will be without the defending champ, Safin, or Agassi, baffling.

Whether or not there's anything more to this story, I can't say. But I'm going to make a point in Australia to pin down some folks on some of the more compelling issues—like whether or not it's possible to duck out-of-competition testing by simply not answering the door when the testers come around.

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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

Just curious what evidence Peter has to presume that the likes of Roddick, Nadal and Federer are possible dopers? Just because he likes a good conspiracy theory, or if one gets busted surely many others are doing it too (but being protected by the ATP/ITF)? And why single out Nadal? It would be stupid of him to play (even a grand slam) when he's not 100% healthy and has had very little match practice. What good is it to fly all the way to Melbourne just to exit early or possibly make an injury worse?

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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

There have been people who have suggested/accused/pondered out loud about Nadal before, hence my previous post. I'm not saying I personally subscribe to such beliefs, merely that I've seen/heard them. It's his blog, he's just speaking his mind. I, for one, like his blog because of that, because I know when I go there that he'll be saying what he's really thinking, not what might be the more popular or PC thing to say.

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post #6 of 187 (permalink) Old 01-13-2006, 07:25 PM
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

I've heard this has been speculated on in the Argentine press - Nadal's absence. Now Bodo - hmmm, wonder what Nadal's response will be?

I think for me the most talented of all times was (Marcelo) Rios. Marat Safin, 2004

Marcelo has an enormous talent. Gaudio, RG champion 2004

"Rios ... he has a beautiful game, great forehand and great touch," Federer, World number 1

Guillermo Coria: "Ríos and Vilas are my two idols"
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

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Originally Posted by Jenrios
I've heard this has been speculated on in the Argentine press - Nadal's absence. Now Bodo - hmmm, wonder what Nadal's response will be?
The first time I remember reading about it was his long absence in 2004 when he missed RG and Wimby with his stress fracture

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post #8 of 187 (permalink) Old 01-13-2006, 07:26 PM
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

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Originally Posted by mirkaland
Just curious what evidence Peter has to presume that the likes of Roddick, Nadal and Federer are possible dopers? Just because he likes a good conspiracy theory, or if one gets busted surely many others are doing it too (but being protected by the ATP/ITF)? And why single out Nadal? It would be stupid of him to play (even a grand slam) when he's not 100% healthy and has had very little match practice. What good is it to fly all the way to Melbourne just to exit early or possibly make an injury worse?
He has not come up with any evidence whatsoever so far. If you read his comments too, he basically laughs at the claim that it is Rafa's injury (effectively) that's keeping him out of the AO but hasn't responded to any of the facts provided by Susan (from vr.com/rn.com) or anyone else. And in his latest post he's trying to retreat and says he wasn't accusing Nadal.
Quote:
So Long, Insoles!
It's time to, as they say, "move on."

My final thoughts on firestorm my last two posts created are:

I never accused Nadal of anything except skipping one of the year's four pre-eminent tournaments for reasons that are somewhat baffling (Insoles. Insoles?).

At the same time, I absolutely, 100 per cent insist that nobody in tennis is above suspicion these day when it comes to doping. Not Federer, not Roddick, not Nadal. And reserving the right to harbor suspicions is very different from making an accusation. And this isn't my personal crusade; tennis has brought this upon itself.Check out Kamakshi's post in Court Coverage re. Sesil Karatancheva's "defense" (You have to scroll down to the "websites" header to find it, but stop and sample on the way!).

Here's another thing. I have both a desire and obligation to share with my readers the burning issues of the day in tennis - both in the public arena, and also in the trenches of the game. Trust me. Doping is a hot, hot topic. It is what people are talking about. And you have every right to know that.

On a more personal level, I feel that I owe it to the Doping Argies, on whom I've been relentlessly tough, to make sure that I - or anyone else - doesn't turn them into convenient scapegoats for a sport that may have a far larger and more comprehensive problem.

It's official. Our game is one in which a 16-year girl has been busted for taking PEDs. . . What do you want me to do, make it the Doping Argies and Bulgar and go my merry way?

But let's give it a rest for now, kick back and enjoy the Australian Open. You know I'm going to get some of your noses out of joint in the next few weeks (remember, I'll be blogging live from Melbourne for Week Two of the AO), but don't for a minute think I underestimate how difficult it is for the players - all the players - and how easy it is for the critics, myself included.

So I leave you for now with the quote I like to ponder before the onset of every major event.


It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

Not to make accusations or anything, but it is a favorite hobby of mine to feature random photographs of sports figures before they became who and what they are and after they became that. The difference is almost startling, absolutely amazing, merely a coincidence. Move along.






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post #10 of 187 (permalink) Old 01-13-2006, 07:27 PM
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

His dark -- and completely unsubstantiated -- insinuations are creating free publicity for his blog, and you all are just snatching up the bait.



C'mon, Lleyton!

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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

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Originally Posted by Socket
His dark -- and completely unsubstantiated -- insinuations are creating free publicity for his blog, and you all are just snatching up the bait.
As far as I know, they're no more - or less - unsubstantiated than the insinuations made on this forum about Agassi and other players. He's speaking his mind, that's his right.

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post #12 of 187 (permalink) Old 01-13-2006, 07:33 PM
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

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Originally Posted by deb.
It's his blog, he's just speaking his mind. I, for one, like his blog because of that, because I know when I go there that he'll be saying what he's really thinking, not what might be the more popular or PC thing to say.
Speaking his mind is fine as long as he doesn't make unfounded accusations that can ruin someone's reputation. How do you like this sentence from his second post "I have neither the mandate nor the responsibility to deal strictly and exclusively with facts and/or the thoughts or opinions of others about those facts."?
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

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Originally Posted by mallorn
Speaking his mind is fine as long as he doesn't make unfounded accusations that can ruin someone's reputation. How do you like this sentence from his second post "I have neither the mandate nor the responsibility to deal strictly and exclusively with facts and/or the thoughts or opinions of others about those facts."?
I don't have to like it, I don't have to agree with him. He's saying he's allowed to say his opinion, which is all he did. It's not like he said "I know Nadal is a doper!!" He's merely thinking out loud about something that is arguably suspicious on its face. And it's nothing more than what many many people here have done, with Nadal, and several other players. Do I think Nadal has doped? I doubt it. Do I think that he has had some more bizarre injuries that have kept him out of the game for pretty long periods of time that could potentially look suspicious to some people? I do see how that line of thinking could potentially be plausible.

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post #14 of 187 (permalink) Old 01-13-2006, 07:37 PM
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucifer
Not to make accusations or anything, but it is a favorite hobby of mine to feature random photographs of sports figures before they became who and what they are and after they became that. The difference is almost startling, absolutely amazing, merely a coincidence. Move along.
Just out of curiosity, have you seen pictures of Nadal's father and uncles?
They're all big, powerful men (one a very successful professional footballer). Oh yes, I guess that just proves they're all dopers.
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post #15 of 187 (permalink) Old 01-13-2006, 07:38 PM
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Re: Peter Bodo's thoughts on doping...accusing Nadal?

So, to summarize Peter's argument,

1. Participating, and potentially winning, A.O. should be a huge incentive for Nadal.
2. Nadal's doctor claimed that his foot was healed.
3. Nadal decided to withdraw from the A.O., therefore,

Nadal avoids the A.O. because he is doping.

The problem of course, as Mirkaland also pointed out is that point #2 does not imply that Nadal is ready to participate, even though he might be (technically) healed.
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