Who is this "ATP Doctor"? [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Who is this "ATP Doctor"?

Margy
11-16-2005, 08:51 PM
I keep seeing how players are told this or that by the "ATP Doctor". I know that there are trainers and physical therapists also available at all the events. But are these positions that people hold year round and travel as part of the tour or does each tournament site provide their own people to fill these positions? I thought I read somewhere that they were provided locally.

It seems to me that if the ATP had a top-notch orthopaedic specialist on tour with the players, that would save a lot of wear and tear of injured players running around the world consulting different specialists. Most knee, shoulder, back, hip, etc injuries are the domain of an orthopaedist. I would think it would be worth it to the ATP to fork out a good salary to keep the same top-notch guy on hand for all the major events. If someone like that travelled with the players, he would be familiar with their problems and more easily follow through with treatment. He would then be in a best position to refer them to whatever surgeons may be best for their specific problems if surgery became necessary.

Does this "ATP Doctor" person already exist? If he does, why don't the players utilize him? And if he doesn't, I think the ATP ought to start a search for good candidates.

smucav
11-16-2005, 09:00 PM
2005 ATP Official Rulebook:4.03 DOCTOR, SPORTS MEDICINE TRAINER AND MASSAGE THERAPIST
A. ATP Tournaments.
1) Tournament Doctor. Beginning with the qualifying competition, it is the responsibility of each ATP Tournament to provide on-site during the entire Tournament an English-speaking doctor who specializes in sports medicine, unless otherwise approved by the ATP's Medical Services Committee.
2) Sports Medicine Trainer. The ATP shall provide a sports medicine trainer for all Tournaments except that the ATP may require assistance from a Tournament to provide a sports medicine trainer for the qualifying competition.
3) Massage Therapist. It is the responsibility of each ATP Tournament to provide a massage therapist.

Margy
11-16-2005, 09:14 PM
Thanks smucav :D

So the ATP has a trainer but it is up to the local areas to provide basically any random sports medicine doctor and massage therapists. That's fine for the massage therapists. I'll buy that locals should be able to do that. But I think the ATP is making a mistake in not having a full-time tour sports medicine specialist to follow to at least the big events. On weeks that there are multiple smaller events, he could obviously only cover 1 and the locals would have to pick up the rest. Or maybe they could justify more than 1 full time doctor. These guys would be familiar with all the standard tennis player injuries. But that consistently available treatment by a specialist who the players can become comfortable with has to be better than the randomness they have now. I can see why they would want to run home to see a doctor who has treated them before. It doesn't seem to be the most efficient way to provide treatment.

DhammaTiger
11-16-2005, 09:22 PM
The ATP is only interested in making money from the players, whom they treat as commodities, and to maximise the profit of the impresarios that own the tournaments. Having said that, it's really the lower ranked players who get the worse deal. The higher ranked, top twenty, have their own staff mostly.

lau
11-16-2005, 09:26 PM
2005 ATP Official Rulebook:
You love the ATP Official Rulebook, don´t you?? :lol:
I`m not trying to be a smartass, did you read it all? :)

Galaxystorm
11-16-2005, 09:37 PM
You love the ATP Official Rulebook, don´t you?? :lol:
I`m not trying to be a smartass, did you read it all? :)

ATP Official Rulebook is like the Tennis Bible, you should know and read it :p

You are just a tennistic atheist :o

lau
11-16-2005, 09:49 PM
I allways found it in English and is booooring. I know some rules for sure, but not the whole thing ;) :p
And if the ATP tennis Rulebook is the Tennis Bible, tennis is in big trouble... :scared:

buzzy
11-16-2005, 09:56 PM
Thanks smucav :D

So the ATP has a trainer but it is up to the local areas to provide basically any random sports medicine doctor
It doesn't seem to be the most efficient way to provide treatment.
If you look at any pro sports teams, they all have team physicians including orthopedic specialists that are the first line of medical care for the players during their season. It not only makes it convenient for the players, but it also allows the team management to be kept completely informed as to the extent of any injuries and the progress of recovery. Let's call the ATP the Team Management in this case. If the ATP had a similar team physician set-up, no one would now be speculating (as PMac and Cliffy are doing today on ESPN's coverage) as to the validity of these injuries. Not that they would keep players from consulting others if they wanted to; but players would have to be evaluted fully by the ATP specialist and all first response treatment and follow-up care would be coordinated through him. It could give the ATP some measure of control which they appear to lacking right now.

smucav
11-16-2005, 10:13 PM
Thanks smucav :D

So the ATP has a trainer but it is up to the local areas to provide basically any random sports medicine doctor and massage therapists. That's fine for the massage therapists. I'll buy that locals should be able to do that. But I think the ATP is making a mistake in not having a full-time tour sports medicine specialist to follow to at least the big events. On weeks that there are multiple smaller events, he could obviously only cover 1 and the locals would have to pick up the rest. Or maybe they could justify more than 1 full time doctor. These guys would be familiar with all the standard tennis player injuries. But that consistently available treatment by a specialist who the players can become comfortable with has to be better than the randomness they have now. I can see why they would want to run home to see a doctor who has treated them before. It doesn't seem to be the most efficient way to provide treatment.Most sports medicine physicians are orthopedists by training. The majority of the ones who work the ATP tournaments (at least in the U.S.) are team doctors for pro/college sports teams who are drafted for the week of the tournament. (My mother's orthopedist is a team doctor for a top NCAA basketball team & also served as the tournament doctor for a local Davis Cup tie. She loves sharing the waiting room with 7' basketball players who take up four chairs.)

The trainers do most of the on-court/off-court work at the tournaments anyway. The doctors are only on call to sign the medical releases allowing players to withdraw/retire due to injury and for emergencies that the trainer isn't equiped to handle (such as Malisse's heart condition at Wimbledon 2002). Rarely do they provide any actual treatment since the players usually leave the tournament to consult with their own doctors/trainers when they have a serious injury. I talked to the tournament doctor at one tournament I attended: he has been the tournament doctor for a number of years & described it as his annual nine day vacation from his practice. He's also a team doctor for a pro sports team, but also loves tennis so he just has his partner cover his practice while he's at the tournament. He had to be on site throughout the tournament, but rarely was called into action so he just walked around & talked to people all day & watched all the matches from the side of the court. Pretty much all he did all week was declare one player unfit to play so he could withdraw without penalty and another who retired from the doubles fit to play the singles the next day. The trainers do everything else for the players & there's EMT on site for the fans & other non-players.

Galaxystorm
11-16-2005, 10:13 PM
I allways found it in English and is booooring. I know some rules for sure, but not the whole thing ;) :p
And if the ATP tennis Rulebook is the Tennis Bible, tennis is in big trouble... :scared:

Didn't you know that Mark Miles is like God ?

buzzy
11-16-2005, 10:49 PM
1.Most sports medicine physicians are orthopedists by training. The majority of the ones who work the ATP tournaments (at least in the U.S.) are team doctors for pro/college sports teams who are drafted for the week of the tournament.

2.The doctors are only on call to sign the medical releases allowing players to withdraw/retire due to injury and for emergencies that the trainer isn't equiped to handle (such as Malisse's heart condition at Wimbledon 2002). Rarely do they provide any actual treatment since the players usually leave the tournament to consult with their own doctors

3.I talked to the tournament doctor at one tournament I attended: he has been the tournament doctor for a number of years & described it as his annual nine day vacation from his practice. He had to be on site throughout the tournament, but rarely was called into action so he just walked around & talked to people all day & watched all the matches from the side of the court. Pretty much all he did all week was declare one player unfit to play so he could withdraw without penalty and another who retired from the doubles fit to play the singles the next day.

Thanks for an in-depth explanation of how the set-up works. Sorry I don't know how to separate your post into 3 separate quotes so I just spaced it a little to address 3 areas.

1. I don't think anyone is implying the doctors are not competent, just that they are not specialized in 1 sport specifically tennis. Though many sports share some common injuries, treating basketball players and tennis players injuries are different. So experience as a team physician for 1 sport is not the same as familiarity with all sports. And in some of the other non-US locations where they don't have any big pro team,they may not be that familiar with professional athletes' types of injuries. A dedicated "tennis" doctor would have more expertise.

2. Tournament doctors don't provide treatment because it's not their job as it is now set up. Therefore players have no choice but to leave and see someone else. If someone there was capable of treating them, it would make it much easier for the players especially during the busy parts of the season when extra travelling can be especially wearing.

3. The doctor you talked to considered his work there a vacation. Was he paid or did he volunteer? A volunteer is obviously not going to be expected to do anything but the bare minimum. If the ATP is paying people to be there and they're not asked to do much of anything, then the ATP is not getting their money's worth. They'd be better off spending a bit more money for the benefit of convenient treatment and control.

And seeing how the injuries are coming so fast and furious, I really think the tennis organizations would appreciate a more complete medical system that they oversee and thereby get to maintain some control.

martirogi
11-17-2005, 12:39 AM
someone should be a massage therapist in a city that has an atp tourney :aplot:

but dont sneak in a video camera or anything

TenHound
11-17-2005, 01:05 AM
While considering this, recall that in Male Corporate Sports in US the doctors are the employees of the teams, Not the Players, which leads to all sorts of conflicts of interest, as the owners just want their "race horses" out there "racing".

I suspect Federer is right when he says he doesn't understand all the withdrawals since he's probably the most injured player.

smucav
11-17-2005, 01:36 AM
Tournament doctors don't provide treatment because it's not their job as it is now set up. Therefore players have no choice but to leave and see someone else. If someone there was capable of treating them, it would make it much easier for the players especially during the busy parts of the season when extra travelling can be especially wearing.I think most players would rather (& can afford to) consult their own doctors rather than one in a random city that they're never going to see again. There's also the trust issue. In most of the recent doping cases, the player's first defense has been to blame the tournament doctor(s). That would only increase if they were required to seek them out for treatment.The doctor you talked to considered his work there a vacation. Was he paid or did he volunteer? A volunteer is obviously not going to be expected to do anything but the bare minimum. If the ATP is paying people to be there and they're not asked to do much of anything, then the ATP is not getting their money's worth.I think it differs depending on the tournament. Some are paid a stipend (by the tournament, not the ATP) & others volunteer.They'd be better off spending a bit more money for the benefit of convenient treatment and control.The ATP could hire its own traveling doctors if it chose to, but legally there's only a certain amount of authority the ATP can exert over a player's off-court medical treatment. While it can require players to get medical clearances for withdrawals & retirements from the designated tournament doctor (or face a penalty), dictating which doctors players seek off the court is pretty much illegal under most countries' laws. Also in the U.S., HIPAA prevents physicians from sharing medical records with anyone other than the insurance company/consulting physicians and people (such as next of kin) that have written permission from the patient; there are similar laws in other countries. Unless the ATP is able to influence several dozen countries to change their medical privacy laws, I don't see any situation where the ATP can "control" physicians or force them to give reports to the media.