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August 28, 2013

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Vincent Blackshadow

"Yes, his seemingly-instant rise from perennial also ran to a player with the best single season in tennis history is suspicious, but there is no more evidence that he uses PEDs than there is that any other top player does. (FWIW, I wouldn't be surprised if they all use them in some form or another). "

Hard to read that without thinking of Lance Armstrong. PEDs have certainly damaged the sports of baseball and cycling. Does tennis not care about drug testing? If it were proven that one of the top names had been using steroids, should he get what Lance Armstrong got? Doesn't the question of PEDs have a significant impact on the question of "masculinity"?

kim

In 1998 Petr Korna, a reigning Grand Slam Champ (Aussie Open) tested positive for steroids during Wimbledon. He was stripped of rankings and prize money and eventually banned for 12 months. Probably lenient compared to most other sports.

Vincent Blackshadow

1998. One year before Armstrong won acquired his first championship. I'm thinking that tennis just might not want to know.

Isaac

Oh there's been plenty of bans since then. Most recently, Marin Cilic, a top twenty player, was caught with an abnormally high level of glucose in his blood stream and is currently serving out a ban. Richard Gasquet, who got into the semi finals today, was suspended for using cocaine a few years back. Victor Troicki has been banned for 18 months (starting this spring) for failure to take a blood test. There's been others.

That said, the testing regime is not strict enough. All four of the Big Four in men's tennis (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Murray) have called for more frequent testing. How it works right now is everyone gets tested when they're in competition, and then there are randomized out of competition tests. This is inadequate for two reasons. First, the off-season tests aren't frequent enough. Second, the way (at least at the slams) the testing is done is "loser-focused." Which is to say that, since everyone except the eventual champion loses eventually, they test players when they lose and then test the champion after he or she wins.

The problem with this is that a lot of forms of PEDs wash out of your system very rapidly. So you could take your chances assuming you're gonna win the first week, use then, and then not the second.

A similar problem is that player recovery regimens (what they do in between matches to prepare for the next one and get over fatigue) are basically trade secrets. If you've discovered some amazing way to recover, that's a strategic advantage and you don't want to share it with your opponents. But this means that the testing orgs don't know what they are either and they happen in private. It's ridiculous.

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