A lot has come out since I last posted about the Agassi situation. It seems that a lot people spoke out in 2003/2004 about the drug situation in men's tennis. You have to give it to tennis fans. They know how to find the dirt.
7 Players Exonerated in 2004
ATP trainers provided electrolyte supplements
Seven top male tennis players who tested positive for nandrolone were exonerated by the ATP on "clearly unsustainable grounds", the World Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday.
WADA said in a statement that more positives had come to light despite the ruling body of men's tennis (ATP) withdrawing contaminated electrolyte supplements which it believed were the source of the banned anabolic steroid.
Testing of the suspect electrolytes failed to show up traces of nandrolone-related products, WADA said.
The ATP announced last July that players might have taken banned substances in supplements handed out by ATP trainers. It asked WADA to set up an investigation of the seven positive dope tests involving players between August 2002 and May 2003.
In its report WADA was scornful of the ATP's inconsistent disciplinary process covering the seven cases.
The allegation that an ATP-supplied electrolyte might be responsible for the positive test was made by just one of the players, the fifth charged, WADA said.
An ATP investigation "found through questioning ... that most of the 43 players with positive or elevated tests claimed (in retrospect) that they had used the electrolyte replacement product provided by trainers," WADA said.
WADA said the independent tribunals which exonerated the players made an "extraordinary series of findings" founded on two principles - shifting the onus of proof to the ATP to show it was not the source of the positive tests, and precluding the ATP from sanctioning players based on positive tests because it might have been responsible for those positives.
Briton Greg Rusedski was cleared of doping offences in March after an ATP-appointed tribunal found the ATP could have been responsible for his positive nandrolone test.
Rusedski admitted in January he had tested positive in a test taken in July 2003. The WADA review did not cover his case.
It should be noted that Guillermo Canas was banned for the same thing Rusedski was given a pass on.
Circling the Wagons - It Wasn't Me
Charles Bricker posts this in defense of the ATP.
If you're upset about the way the ATP handled the Andre Agassi drug case back in 1997, don't even try to hang this one on former CEO Mark Miles.
I just got off the phone with Mark and he explained that all decisions about drug violations is the 100 percent province of an independent, ITF-appointed panel of certified experts who have no direct connection whatever with the ATP, and that neither Miles nor any other ranking ATP executive has the power to override or amend that panel's decision. In any way.
That is a fact and it was reinforced today by a statement from the ATP, which reads:
“It has always been ATP policy not to comment on anti-doping test results unless and until an anti-doping violation has occurred. Under the tennis anti-doping program it is, and has always been, an independent panel that makes a decision on whether a doping violation has been found. The ATP has always followed this rule and no executive at the ATP has therefore had the authority or ability to decide the outcome of an anti-doping matter.”
Miles, who left the ATP in 2005 after 15 years as its No. 1 official, was as candid as he felt he could be, but he is honoring retroactive commitments not to comment on specific drug cases that came up during his tenure at the men's tour.
"I can't comment on any case. I can't even confirm that there was a case involving Andre. And I'm not going to comment on Andre's book. But I can amplify. I've seen the ATP statement and the statement is true. The ATP program was set up to ensure that any decision on any case was decided by a panel, a tribunal. And there were no exceptions to that.
"I don't know if Andre says anything in his book that is incongruous with that," he said, and then made what I thought was a very interesting remark. "Panels have made decisions that have left some people scratching their heads," said Miles.
Agassi in 2003...
World number two Andre Agassi has rejected claims by Australia's Andrew Ilie that illegal drug use is rife in professional tennis.
Ilie's claims cut little ice with Agassi, a strong supporter of drug testing.
"The one thing that I'd like to stick to is what we do know," said Agassi after his victory over South Korean Lee Hyung-Taik.
"What we know is, while there's been a minimal amount of players caught over the last 10 years, we are probably the leading sport in reference to how often we test, how professional our tests are and how strict our penalties are.
"The talk of who might be or might not be taking drugs is irresponsible," said Agassi.
The Gag Rule
Bill Simon and the Agassi book.
I had no choice. Word was out. Andre Agassi had a new autobiography that was about to hit and it promised to be a barnburner. After all, if any athlete could write a riveting, what’s-it-all-about volume, it was Andre.
But just to get an advance copy, I had to (for the first time in 29 years) sign a non-divulgence (”squeal and you die”) contract; a seven-clause gag rule saying I would not reveal the contents of the curiously titled book, “Open,” until early November. I agreed, and on Aug. 17, Andre’s four-pound 437-page baby arrived.
For weeks I devoured every detail. Then I waited and waited some more.
Certainly, the book’s explosive details would be leaked in the media. After all, deep within the book, Andre offers up the most explosive confession in sports history, candidly detailing his first experience with crystal meth.
Note: There are also Spanish language sources that provide more information. When I have the translations I'll post them.
In Other News...
L'Equipe reports that Richard Gasquet has withdrawn from Bercy to focus on his upcoming hearing before the CAS on November 10.
Serena Williams will be the year end WTA Number 1. Dinara Safina's withdrawal from Doha guarantees Serena will be ranked Number 1 until the end of December.
It is never easy to watch someone unravel in front of the world. Once again I'm writing about the system and how it affects players. If anyone needs a time out it's Dinara. I can only imagine the pressure put on this young woman by the powers that be. She looked absolutely terrified to take the court the last time I saw her. There are a lot of people calling on her to fire her coach. Dinara said in the past that he is the coach she needs, the one who understands her temperament. I'm just saying.
I finally have Tennis Channel. And I can finally hear Lindsay Davenport commentate. She raked the players over the coals for playing so much this year before someone reminded her that Roadkill is the reason players like Safina made the Asian swing regardless of their physical condition. When the players have no control over their schedules bad things happen. She is honest and straight forward in her commentary. Good times.