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Rokkon the Boat 11/03/2010 - 3:00 PM

95590393 by Pete Bodo

One of my articles of faith regarding tennis has recently been confirmed by Christophe Rochus. That conviction is that if you want to get a lot of attention in tennis, you must do one of three things: Beat Roger Federer. Beat Rafael Nadal. Or make accusations about doping.

Rochus, the 5-7 Belgian drop-shot artist also known as "Rokkon" (which I assume is a variant of "Rock on!" as in, "Rock on, dude!") is a lover of Jack Russell terriers. Somehow, that seems really fitting; like a Jack Russell, Rochus never seemed to understand that he's a small dog.

Still, Rochus was 0-2 for his career against Federer, and 0-2 versus Nadal. That leaves option three, which Rochus exploited to the max recently, when he made some disturbing allegations about doping in the Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. "Derniere" means "last," and this may be the last we hear of Rochus for a while, given that he's currently ranked No. 237 and headed further south. It appears that he's called it a career, and I'll miss him—even though his claims about doping seem ill-considered and irresponsible.

I say that because I've learned—or is it "decided"?—over the years that if you're going to shoot your mouth off about doping, you'd better have something to back it up—something beyond, "Don't you see how waxy so-and-so's skin looks?" If you don't have anything beyond the most flimsy circumstantial or connect-the-dots evidence, common decency demands that you either keep your mouth shut or couch your comments in the most broad, general terms. It just isn't fair to any of the players, especially those whose activities are in question, to do otherwise.

I learned this myself the hard way, after writing a few relatively careful but highly speculative posts on the subject a few years ago (at this blog). I don't want to dig them out or link to them because, frankly, I'm somewhat ashamed of them. Being familiar with firearms, I should have known enough to remember that you only aim a gun at something you intend to kill. And you'd better have a good reason to kill anything.

So let's start here. Doping exists in tennis. We've learned that it exists in pretty much all pro sports. If it didn't, nobody ever would have been suspended for it, right? This should not come as Stop the Presses! news to anyone. But when does doping (or substitute betting on matches) become so ubiquitous a problem that it damages the credibility of the sport? Not at any point at which we've arrived, although I like to think I'm ready to take the bad news if we ever do get there.

In the precis of the interview, Rochus is quoted as saying, "There's a lot of cheating. Simply, people don't like to talk about it. I simply would like to stop the pretending. This hypocrisy is exasperating."

I'm not sure what hypocrisy Rochus is talking about. Abusers are first and foremost cheaters; hypocrites would be those who know for certain that doping goes on, and on a significant scale, but choose to ignore it, or claim it doesn't. The implication here is that the guys on the tour know it goes on, but have engaged in a kind of conspiracy of silence. This is the first time I've heard anything like that claim. I also don't believe any of the players would knowingly let others unfairly take food off their plates without kicking up a fuss about it.

Secondly, Rochus said: "I've seen things like everyone else. For me, it's inconceivable to play for five hours in the sun and come back like a rabbit the next day. I remember a match against a guy whose name I will not say. I won the first set 6-1, very easily. He went to the bathroom and came back metamorphosized. He led 5-3 in the second set and when I came back to 5-5... his nose began bleeding. I told myself it was all very strange."

I'm not so sure what's so strange about a guy recovering from a bad 1-6 set to turn a match around. And we've seen players find a seemingly prenatural surge of energy on many occasions. It happens all the time, in all sports. I'm not sure what nosebleed suggests, other than a really bad cold or a whopping cocaine habit, but it's pretty bold to infer from that experience that the incident suggests doping on an institutional scale. Maybe Rochus just drew a guy with nasal passage issues. Or even a cokehead. Given how many pro tennis matches take place in a typical year, and how many players qualify for tournaments, I wouldn't find either option very strange at all.

The most specific and damaging of allegations Rochus made were about his countrywoman Justine Henin, and her abrupt withdrawal from the tour in 2008. Rochus apparently said: "I heard [the rumours] like you. All I can say is, I found it surprising, her sudden stop without apparent reason. Usually, champions like this announce several months in advance and do a sort of farewell tour."

Let's start with this: the original doping claims against Henin were made after the 2003 U.S. Open, and by Leo Clijsters, the father of Henin's Belgian rival, Kim. Filip de Wulf, a former French Open semifinalist turned journalist, appeared to back up Leo. These remain the most serious, resonant doping claims ever made against a high-ranked player. And while nobody knows the objective truth about them, wouldn't it be a horrible injustice to Henin if we took the words of Clijsters and DeWulf at face value, with no concrete evidence? Are you so confident in your judgment—or the word of some third party—that you would insist that Henin was doping?

Fast forward to 2008. I don't know where Rochus got this business about champions liking to announce their intent to retire months in advance in order to go on a "farewell tour." I'm still waiting for Elena Dementieva to post the dates of hers, and I don't really recall Kim Clijsters' victory lap of a few years ago. Nor that of Andre Agassi, or Pete Sampras. Were they doping, too? This is such poor reasoning on the part of Rochus that it makes me wince.

Rochus freely admitted that he'd been given 10-15 doping tests a year for a decade, and also received a warning letter from the ATP when he shot his mouth off on the same subject some time ago. I don't know if 15 tests is enough; and I don't know if the testing regimen is sufficiently rigorous to catch violators. To make an informed judgment about those things, I'd probably have to spend the better part of six months dedicating my life to penetrating the sinister and depressing world of doping, and doping police work. I have no desire to do that, so I keep my speculations to myself. The important thing is that I don't think Rochus put in those six months, either. Perhaps it could become his second career.

Doping is a subject that reminds me in some ways of the little I know about pornography. Some people seem inordinately attracted to it. Both subjects appear to have some sort of addictive power, and foster some sort of obesssion that can balloon out of control. Why would someone convince himself that this player or that is a doper, and then make it some kind of a mission to expose him or her? I can't imagine that obsessively wanting to discover some real or imagined secret harbored by someone else, or some group of people, is an entirely healthy enterprise. But I'm pretty sure it's one you can be sucked into, if you're susceptible to it. In some ways, speculating about doping also is a sporting equivalent of political conspiracy theories. Dots, after all, are there to be connected. I prefer that someone armed with data and expertise—someone in a position to actually know—does the connecting.

I don't think, from what I've read, that Rochus is in a postion to connect those dots. I would be more inclined to value his comments if he had some firsthand experience—being approached by someone who had PEDs to peddle; a fellow player confiding in him about the benefits of doping; encountering a colleague injecting himself with a dose of performance-enhancing drugs. But he offers none of those firsthand experiences, beyond playing some guy, somewhere, who came back from a set down to give Rochus a match despite also having a bloody nose.

Many years ago, Boris Becker confided (and I published the confession, with his blessing) that at the end of one particularly grueling year (the best of his career, if memory serves), he was a mental and physical wreck, and survived to end the year on a high note only because he received an injection of calf's blood. It was a creepy thing to think about and, as far as I could work out, not a violation of any of the rules that existed at the time. Players always seek an edge, there's no doubt about that. Just what they're willing to risk, both in terms of their health and their livelihood and reputation, is open the question.

I'm in no position to answer that question with anything like authority, so I'll leave it to the administrators of the game and the scientists to provide those answers—or charges. My job, as I see it, begins when a credible, fact-based claim is made. The glories, such as they are, rained down on someone who exposes a cheat or deception, hold no appeal for me.

I don't know what that original admonition from the ATP said, but if I were to write a letter to Rochus today, it would be a brief one: Shut your piehole, until you can make a specific charge against a specific person or persons—and back it up.

I have a feeling that Rochus is going to regret saying the things he did when he gets an earful from the ATP, or Henin, or maybe even that dude with the bloody nose. But given his comments, I can also see him interpreting censure of that kind as a warning that he take part in this alleged conspiracy of silence. 

After the noise he just made, a little silence might be a good thing.


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Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 01:00 AM

Of course he is

Whatever you say

*rolls eyes*

I will have a proper discussion with someone who actually has ever played the game and as I have said before I am quite aware of anyone who has taken steriods and have seen first hand the damage they can do on a short term and long term basis.

If that is the case if Rafa his kidneys by now would be stuffed and he would need dyalisis machine or dead and I am not joking.

Moving On ASAP

Posted by someguy 11/04/2010 at 01:02 AM

actually i play tennis
and why steroids?
there are other things like clenbuterol or nadrolone
but dont ask me
ask the expert rafael nadal

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 01:02 AM

NP Thanks for the score

Who are they playing by the way

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 01:04 AM

Gee isnt there a site for Trolls

This is a proper tennis site I thought

Posted by NP 11/04/2010 at 01:05 AM

AM, the Kings. A very young team (in terms of their age, BTW, not their franchise history).

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 01:07 AM

Np Thanks

What quarter are they in pls?

Posted by someguy 11/04/2010 at 01:08 AM

yes for nadal trolls
here is the link http://tennisworld.typepad.com/
"site for trolls like you"
see the truth, doping exist in tennis, nadal dopes, but also other players

Posted by NP 11/04/2010 at 01:11 AM

AM, the 4th Q. The Kobies are gonna take this. Fisher just made a couple of big plays.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 01:11 AM

AA I saw the message you left last night regarding the split between Ana and her coach I must of missed reading it.Thanks

Posted by NP 11/04/2010 at 01:14 AM

Kobe's got 30 pts, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Mwahahahahahahaha! LeBron who?

Posted by temes 11/04/2010 at 01:15 AM

Also, some people are genetically wired to be more muscular than others...some put muscle on much easier too. Mesomorph and ectomorphs to put it roughly. It can be a really dramatic difference in body composition even with a same amount of working out.

Posted by THASP is cool 11/04/2010 at 01:16 AM

Mr Bodo, you say Rochus made "disturbing allegations". My question is, for whom are the allegations disturbing? Doping players? Tennis officials covering up failed tests? Doping authorities who have been outed as inadequate? Sponsors? "Journalists" (cheerleaders) like you? Who?

As a tennis fan, I am certainly not disturbed by Rochus's allegations. They are enlightening if anything.

Posted by NP 11/04/2010 at 01:18 AM

Wow, Artest must've worked on his fadeaways. That was almost Kobe-like.

Posted by NP 11/04/2010 at 01:21 AM

The Kobies win 112-100. Slacked off a bit too much at the end, but good win nonetheless.

And I'm outtie. Later.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 01:25 AM

temes Thank you for that post and you are 100% correct

I myself have not that body type and I have worked out with weight for many years.Though my g/friend a body builder who I have trained with on and off for years has the exact opposite body type to me and can gain muscle easy.

Posted by Slick 11/04/2010 at 01:32 AM

There is no doping issue in tennis until there is a doping issue in tennis. But the shadow is getting larger and larger. If and when it all comes down, it's gonna hurt the game really badly.

Posted by Lin 11/04/2010 at 02:03 AM


You can try and attack Rochus all you want... but you'll have to try to shoot down all the other messengers while you are at it. You can try to pretend it's one dodgy petty man if that makes you feel better.
And when this thing really hits the fan big time, don't you dare pretend that there was no smoke to warn about the fire.


JOHN MCENROE 1992:
“You can tell when someone has been on steroids,” he said… “A guy bulks up, has a new body and never gets tired.”
He said athletes on steroids heal more quickly after an injury, recover faster after grueling matches and work much harder during training.
“You see these guys or girls who come onto the tour talking about their new training programs and their diets where they eat this or that new thing…but they’ll never tell you about the drugs they took."


MAHESH BHUPATI:
“The tennis players themselves have brought it (anti-doping rules) upon themselves. A lot of players have been cheating. The players have to cooperate to weed out instances of cheating from sports,”


ANDRE ILIE:
"The problem is so bad that you might as well just let them use it and when players see people dying on court and exploding, then it's going to change their minds.
The sport has become so competitive and powerful it is just a matter of fitness and who will outlast who out there.
People are just happy to sacrifice their health for three years of fame."


JOHN MENDOZA
The chief executive of the Australian Sports Drug Agency, John Mendoza
said tennis was approaching a similar crisis that swimming faced at the farcical 1994 Rome world championships and that cycling encountered before the Tour de France drug busts in 1997.
"Players can use short-acting steroids in combination with human growth hormone which will produce muscle mass and enormous power, and while they can stop just before a competition and test clean, they still get the performance benefit of the drugs," Mendoza said.
......
"The signs of substance abuse among leading players are self evident. The dynamics of the game have changed. Tennis officials are refusing to accept they have a problem."
......
2009:
"I didn't say it (in 2002) just because I felt like a bit of notoriety. I said it because there was so much evidence from within the sport that things were right off the rails. "I had been hearing from 1997 that they (ITF and ATP) were burying results, and the WTA wasn't testing at all."


NICOLAS ESCUDE:
"To say that tennis today is clean you have to be living in a dream world.
When you're playing on clay and after 50 shots the guy on the other side of the net is fresh and waiting for you to serve, while you're in agony, it's mind-blowing."
Escude slammed Miles for his passive attitude towards doping, and branded measures taken against those caught as ridiculous.
"What I don't understand is that, if a company's accounts show bad results, the boss is always the first one to get fired," he said.
"So when I hear today that Mark Miles is untouchable, I begin to wonder."
And he claimed that the top tennis players were keeping a lid on the problem because the ATP has dossiers on them.
"The problem is that the ATP is lead by Americans, while 85 percent of players are Europeans and the money comes from Europe," he said.
"It's a mafia that's in place. If these dossiers were exposed, tennis would be in a bad state for six months. But out of the bad would come some good."


NATHALIE TAUZIAT:
"I won't name individuals," she said, "but it's clear that doping exists in tennis and needs to be stopped. I have no hard evidence, but all I will say is that you don't have to have a degree in medicine to see that some of the players have transformed themselves almost overnight. It's time people stopped taking us for a bunch of fools. I don't care how much training or gym work you do, there is no way anyone can suddenly become stronger and faster in the space of a couple of months. How is it that some girls disappear for a few weeks, and then return looking totally different?"
"We also need more blood- testing if we are to get to the bottom of this growing problem. I'm particularly concerned for the younger players. They're often the victims of unscrupulous people, who try to sell products which allow them to recuperate more quickly. It must stop."


JIM COURIER:
"EPO is the problem," Jim Courier told Newsweek in 1999, referring to erythropoietin, a blood-boosting drug that became ubiquitous in cycling in the 1990s. "I have pretty strong suspicions that guys are using it on the tour. I see guys who are out there week in and week out without taking rests. EPO can help you when it's the fifth set and you've been playing for four-and-a-half hours."


FABRICE SANTORO:
Of course some are. Like in every sport where there's much money at stake. It's obvious and very unpleasant to see a doper facing you and you think I trained 3 or 4 hours a day, I made the maximum to prepare my match and he seems to have 4 lungs, he doesn't even breathe and eventually defeats me but you can't say anything because you don't have proof.

Posted by Great tennis fan 11/04/2010 at 02:29 AM

Well, you all heard Rochus. Now we all know how Fed was able to turn around the match at AO against Davy earlier this year.

Bathroom break + amphetamine = suddenly energized Fed willing 10 something straight games against Davy who was toying Fed in 1st set.

Just saying. Let the speculation begins!

Posted by Great tennis fan 11/04/2010 at 02:31 AM

willing-> winning at 2:29

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/04/2010 at 02:55 AM

I know we can't compare sports, but if a first year afl player doesn't have much of a physce say at 18 then he bulks up over the preseason which is about three months do I persume he is on steroids. No I don't because the player has prolly worked his arse in the gym and doing other things to improve his body. AFL players run all day and hardly get tired. They train for about 8 hrs a day. Typically though it can take a young player a couple of years to bulk up. With the right nutrition and gym work one can improve their body.

Posted by Eufemiano 11/04/2010 at 02:57 AM

Nothing about Nadal screams doping.

Not his bulging biceps, not his remarkable stamina, not his impressive recovery between matches, not his agressive behaviour on cort,
not his thinning hair at age 24, not his strange form dip every fall, not his many injuries at a very young age, not his many absent periods, nothing. You are just all jealous! No?

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 03:00 AM

AA Thanks for your thoughts and I agree 100%

Also Temes made a very similar post on body types and how it does depend on your body type that people can build muscle easy compared to others.

Yes indeed a proper diet and natural vitimens is the way to go for people that actually build muscle the correct way.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 03:02 AM

A young male at say 18 cannot build muscle he is still growing physucally and devloping.

The same age female is different and can build muscle at this age a woman has grown physically.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 03:04 AM

May I add further to my above post regarding a male of 18 in ways they can build muscle though they wont get the better results compared to say if they were 20 or 21.

Again it all depends on the body type and that also goes with females

Posted by tennis muse 11/04/2010 at 03:12 AM

Sherlock,

You'll have to try harder... even my original post contained the statistics showing that the differences in surface don't explain Nadal's yearly swings. Of course, one would expect him to juice up for the tournaments he has a better chance to win, but his success correlates much better with time of year than surface.

Annie,

First I'll say that I'm sure you're sincere and that it would be a far better world if you were right and I was just a conspiracy theorist. But I also have to say that your moniker "Vamos heavenly creature" (?!?!?!) reveals the type of religious devotion that makes it hard to see the truth. To be a fan of Nadal is one thing. To call him "heavenly" when he habitually breaks the rules and when his game is based on forcing errors and wearing down opponents physically is another. "Innocent until proven guilty" I can understand. But denying that a player who ignores the rules of the game in public and shows every performance-related sign of breaking them in private isn't at least suspicious is just plain naive.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/04/2010 at 03:16 AM

Also most players would be working with a physical trainer who will be telling them how to bulk up with protein shakes etc etc.

To me Lopez, Verdasco and even Monaco look bigger than the average tennis player and I don't think they are doping I just think they have a good physical body.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/04/2010 at 03:19 AM

Why do I think that this has turned into a Nadal post.

I might add that I do personal training and most of my trainers have been female. All of them have different types of bodies. A couple of them find it easy to put on muscle while the other one doesn't and has to work a bit harder.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 03:24 AM

AA Great win for Pico over Andy you must be happy

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/04/2010 at 03:29 AM

AM I have been so busy that I haven't had time to check scores but yess so happy but he did beat Andy a couple of times on clay last year.

Gee Pico makes me smile.

Posted by temes 11/04/2010 at 03:30 AM

I looked it up about 25% of males begin balding by age 20(!) so Rafa is a part of that misfortuned group of people unfortunately. LOL It's not uncommon at all to lose hair early.

Btw I'm not someone who is in denial I keep the options open(though I seriously doubt Nadal is using drugs) but it's just unreasonable to base all accusations on such normal phenomena occuring in Nadal's body. lol

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 03:31 AM

I would love to go to the Champions Tour which starts at Hombush on the 12th of November and I get free tickets as well

Alas I will be going to Melbourne that weekend

Posted by temes 11/04/2010 at 03:38 AM

Btw I was an 11 pound baby my mom used to call me a steroid baby but my brother has always been far skinnier.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 03:41 AM

temes LOL!

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/04/2010 at 04:12 AM

With the Mexican doctor and mixing up Canas's perscription he has done it again to a female tennis player and unfortunately she got a two year ban. That doctor should be struck off the list from both tours.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 05:05 AM

I think all posters agree that we would all like to see our game of tennis a clean sport and I think on the whole compared to say other sports it has.Of course there has been instances in the past and present that players have been caught and the necessary fines have been imposed.

Though may I say in the case of Canas it was the doctors mistake with the prescription he had made out.In this case it was his fault.

There will always be athletes that will use drugs in ways authorites cannot prevent this from happening now or even in the future.The only way they can be found out is through testing.Maybe this should be done more on a continous basis.

Though I take offence at anyone that makes false allegations without proper proof.

Posted by MN 11/04/2010 at 05:11 AM

People think tennis is "mostly clean" because there are hardly any positives.
Well there is a reason behind that. Because they do hardly any out of competition tests with no blood or epo.
You can't find something if you don't look.
It's why other sports have a clean image and cycling doesn't.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/04/2010 at 05:13 AM

I think in the Canas's case the ATP were going to make him a scapegoat.

I would like someone to tell me how long does cocaine stay in your body and if you are using it over a number of years can it be detected.

Ok time for me to go for the day so I will catch you all tomorrow.

conversation has been very informant and sensible. Unfrtunately i didn't have time to read Steve's post, might try tomorrow.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 05:39 AM

Bye AA

Posted by Old man Fed fan 11/04/2010 at 05:59 AM

Rafa tweener winner against Fed (similar to Fed's tweener winner against Isner at Shanghai this year)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqqAC2WRd3g

I didn't know Rafa had this in him. Against my old man Fed, no less.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 06:02 AM

Just reading further news on Fox sports regarding Tsonga's knee injury which now is season ending.

Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet now come into contention for the other singles spot with the up coming tie with Serbia in the DC final in December.

Posted by petewho 11/04/2010 at 06:11 AM

Heres my question .

If your going to start testing atheletes on the grounds of integrity when it comes to using enhancement , what about every one else in jobs ( esp higher profile "players " like politicans ) ?

BTW J F Kennedy had narcotic cocktail while running the country like you wouldnt believe , and some say he was the best president of all

People are always going to look for enhancements because its breed into culture that we are never good enough as we are , when you add finacial incentive even moreso .

No one says someone who gets plastic surgery to look pretty is less credible , in fact we endorse it in even tv shows.

My point is trying to say other things like tennis isnt credible , is like saying its a world to unto itself , some utopia devoid of all suffering and misery that exists everywhere else and therefore beyond its rules.

Besides , isnt it that very detached , regimented regeime it potrays now , the very reason its no longer fun to watch ?

Does Roger Federer, or Nadal refelct the typical person we see everyday - flawed ,imperfect and what about the rest ?


Roger Federer / Nadal are not typical humans - neither is Andy Murray ( A scotsman who hates alcohol ??? )

If people cheat , its only because its instinct not just to win but because its all around them and hard to ignore ie. look at illegal file sharing

I wonder how many tennis pros have done that too ?

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 06:18 AM

Just a reminder to all Rafa fans

As Rafa has already wrapped up the no 1 player of the ATP

You can vote for him as you fan favourite singles player

The Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award is voted by the ATP

Go to the folloing website and cast your vote remember 1 vote per valid email

http://www.atpworldtour.com/fan/fan-favourite/fan-favourite-voting.aspx.

Posted by pj 11/04/2010 at 06:53 AM

worst article youve ever written pete

Posted by Or 11/04/2010 at 07:02 AM

Um, letting Richard play in a DC final? I don't know about that. Especially in front of a hostile Serbian crowd.

Posted by Pierre 11/04/2010 at 07:11 AM

"I personally think this whole discussion is rather pointless. Rochus' comments were so unsubstantiated that they might as well not exist. So here we go with the drugs or no drugs back and forth without anything new to add."

Very good point...but couldn't this comment apply to almost all the discussions at Tennis World, if not the entire internet?

Posted by noleisthebest 11/04/2010 at 07:22 AM

d,

Brillian comment!

Posted by lilscot 11/04/2010 at 07:39 AM

Mmmm...yawn...(rubs eyes while sipping warm morning beverage)...oh boy, amd I ever sorry I missed last night's conversation. NOT! Where the hell did all those weird people with weird monikers come from? Did someone fill up a bus?

I suppose it's just one of the negatives of the end-of-the-year stretch. People really digging to find something to fight about. Me? I'm gonna watch me some juiced up tennis! :)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro, YE, world's no 1. 11/04/2010 at 07:59 AM

Temes, "I think Justine retired to advoid a drug ban." Temes, you know how much I like you, but that is so irresponsible. Temes, where is the proof? If someone made a baseless accusation against Serena baed upon Rochus' nonsense, you wouldn't like it. Justine should be given the benefit of the doubt in the absense of proof.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro, YE, world's no 1. 11/04/2010 at 08:04 AM

should read base.

Posted by @work 11/04/2010 at 08:46 AM

LOL at the poster who said I sounded defensive about Rafa!

If I was defensive of anyone it was of Henin and I'm not even her fan.
I am all for rigorous testing and more transparency on the reporting and if Rafael Nadal or any of my favorites is found guilty of doping I would definitely not be defending them.

Anyway, it's still interesting to see some people's perceptions... very telling indeed.

Posted by Ruth 11/04/2010 at 08:54 AM

testing -- because I'm getting the "sorry, we cannot accept this data" message for a comment with no TW violations

Posted by Ruth 11/04/2010 at 08:57 AM

lilscot: If you haven't left already, I want to answer your question about all the "weird people with the weird monikers": some of them are lurking trolls and others who decided to de-lurk to offer us their wisdom while others,I am sure, are regular TW posters using aliases because even they are too ashamed to have their ridiculous comments associated with their regular TW monikers. Only the mods know for sure! :)

Before I leave, let me throw out this thought/question which fits in nicely with some of the theories propounded here in the past several hours.

Should the ATP conduct a post-facto investigation of the retiring Rochus? Why? Certainly, based on the statistics presented yesterday, this relatively small player has won too many first sets 6-1 against normal sized players -- and then, on some occasions, his drug of choice (one of those quick-acting but not-too-long-lasting types), which he had ingested in the bathroom before his match, clearly ran out after one set; so he faded and lost a match he appeared poised to win. heheheheheh

See, I can offer silly theories, too, Christophe!

(Disclaimer: I have disliked Rochus since the first time he mouthed his offensive comments about women players and the women's game and women's prize money -- comments that, I've read, he repeated in his farewell interview. So,there goes yet another retiring player that I will definitely not miss. Buh bye, bitter little man!)

But, I do hope that serious discussion of the drug problem in tennis will continue and that the ATP and WTA and ITF will be alert to and make needed changes in their policies and rules.

Posted by poly 11/04/2010 at 09:01 AM

Bodo:... the little I know about pornography.
Ah Bodo,werent you the guy I saw at Blockbuster checking out 'Open','Fist Pump','Breakpoint',and 'he is in a 2-4 hole".?
Those sunglasses and hat dint fool me.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 09:04 AM

Kimiko

Date

Krumm

takes the first set against Li Na.

Ugly match, so far.

Kimiko jumps to 5-1 lead as Li Na donates errors from both sides.

Then, three games of Kimiko FH errors and Li Na gets back to 4-5.

A game full of Li Na errors and Kimiko closes out first set.

Easy first game hold for Li Na in second set, altho Kimiko won a long point.

Posted by Master Ace 11/04/2010 at 09:10 AM

Manuelsantana Fan,
Thanks for the update on Bali. If Bali is streamed, that is an upgrade since I believe it was not in 2009. As you know, Ana awaits the winner.

Posted by rafadoc...Waka Waka...Its Stanzi time! 11/04/2010 at 09:19 AM

"Some really great posts here today on this quite fascinating topic. TheTruth, Ladyjulia, Nalby Fan, Karen, on and on. Good stuff from, almost, everyone. :)"
---------------------------------------------
+ 1000

This post could have gotten ugly but for the most part stayed on track with the topic (minus a handful of posters).

Very interesting thoughts and comments. Thanks!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 09:23 AM

Bali streamed at:

http://www.fromsport.com/v-0/10/2/v-100368.html

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 09:30 AM

Li Na goes up 3-1, 30-0.

Kimiko actually keeps some FHs in and Li Na self-destructs.

At 2-3, 15-15, Kimiko goes FH error, FH error, BH error.

At 4-2, Li Na goes with four UFEs early in points.

Kimiko to serve at 3-4.

When Kimiko can keep the ball in the court, she has hit a couple of nice drop shots, disrupted Li Na with slice BHs, and showed a good net game.

Posted by Jason 11/04/2010 at 09:30 AM

Just because theres no proof dosent mean nothing is going on. Thats why so many obviously guilty murderers, rapist, and other low lifes are still out here commiting crimes! Instead of asking for proof, why not investigate the acusations? Thats prolly why most people dont come out and say anything; because people like you automaticlly down grade them. If someone could get away with it, why wouldnt they? Wake up to the reality of the world everyone please!

Posted by Paul 11/04/2010 at 09:32 AM

Do you seriously expect us to believe a comment doesn't mean anything without proof? What fairy tale world do you live in? That is the most cowardly argument you could possibly put forth. Just because its unpleasant to think that our favorite players are using, and that the governing bodies are included in covering them up and allowing it to happen, doesn't mean that we should shoot someone for trying to provide information on what goes on unbenownst to the average tennis fan.

Regardless, i find your piece hypocritical, cowardly, and quite frankly reeks of cover up itself. Trying to silence the crying baby by smothering it or killing it. Babies cry for a reason. Most of us would like to find out why. Sadly, i don't even believe you believe what you are writing as it is so far removed from your earlier work. Just wanted to let you know that some of us aren't fooled, and welcome a realistic look at to what is going on in the sport we all love. Cycling fans are learning the lesson the hard way. If anyone out there believes that atheletes got doping from meat, pills someone else gave me, cream i thought was vitamins, kissing a girl who had cocaine on her lips, etc.etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum, I really feel sorry for. I wish i had swampland to sell to you. Cause you'll believe ANYTHING.

Posted by Karly 11/04/2010 at 09:46 AM

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/04/2010 at 12:53 AM
tennismuse: actually, nothing, nothing about Nadal screams, or even whispers "doping." Not a pimple on his body. No acne at all. No excessive body hair. No aggressive behavior. You are basing your paranoid knee jerk assertions on his biceps. He gets tested all the time. And not urine tests but blood tests. Have you ever seen his training regimen? Why don't you educate yourself and look at the numerous videos. then maybe you'll STFU"

You know if doping suspicions are going to be based on appearance and behavior, it seems Serena Williams ought to be suspect number one. Her musculature for a female is bordering on freakish, she has major mood swings sometimes even during matches, has extremely angry outbursts, sometimes with little provocation, every year takes time off from the tour for this injury or that one (which allows her to avoid testing). And if you look at her appearance from say 2003-2004, then look at the difference a year or so later until now, it's striking. And not only with added muscle bulk, but facial shape and bone growth in her face, which I guess is supposed to be a "telltale sign".. I"m not saying she is, but can't believe she wouldn't be the number one focus of doping allegations when the allegations are usually based on appearance and behavior... On non tennis and tennis related doping sites, she IS the number one focus of doping speculation. Elephant in the room no one will address?

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 09:48 AM

Li Na starts hammering BH winners. Kimiko plays well on BPs, but after starting well on a S&V, stones a basic second volley into the net and gets broken.

I lose my Internet connection.

Kimiko gets to 15-40 on Li Na's serve. Two UFEs for Kimiko.

Gets another BP.

Another UFE for Kimiko.

Li Na holds for the set.

Kimiko firing more UFEs to start 3rd set. Gets broken immediately on a DF.

According to announcer, Kimiko has been broken 6 consecutive times. Sounds right.

Posted by Master Ace 11/04/2010 at 09:49 AM

Manuelsanatana Fan,
As you know Na and Kimiko did not want to play each other; therefore, I am not surprised that the match is an ugly one filled with UFEs. By the way, how is the court playing? Is it playing super fast if it is indoors? I can not see the match as I am at the day job.

Posted by Hank Naib 11/04/2010 at 09:51 AM

Pete,

Are you telling us that you couldn't even be bothered to call or e-mail the ITF or ATP to get an official response to the Rochus allegations? Are you telling us that you couldn't be bothered to call or ask players to comment on the allegations? Why is this the case? I would think that picking up the phone or emailing insiders would be one of the first things a credible journalist would do.

Your complete lack of curiousity on this matter is disturbing no matter how you have rationalized it. Are you a tennis writer or a PR man for the ATP/WTA?

Posted by Colette 11/04/2010 at 09:59 AM

I guess they CAN'T play doubles in Bali :) Must admit the singles-only court makes it easier, imo, to see when the ball is in. And the orange makes for great viewing on stream. Go Kimiko!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/04/2010 at 10:01 AM

Good morning everyone,

How on earth does Pete's article reek of a cover up ? He is a sports writer and not a private investigator. Some of the comments I've read are just plain insulting and based on pure speculation. Nobody is claiming that tennis is a drug free sport, we aren't that stupid or silly but without some hard based proof that would stand up in a court of law, then this topic has become pointless.

Some excellent comments were made by regulars here last night in this discussion but also many outlandish ones by non regulars.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 10:02 AM

MA:

Court is playing relatively fast and ball stays fairly low.

Li Na goes up 30-0 on her serve.

DF and UFE.

Kimiko gets to break point and gags on a second serve return.

Finally breaks on drop shot that Li Na nets.

Kimiko goes up 30-0, altho should have lost first point, but Li Na doesn't challenge Kimiko shot that floated out.

4 straight UFEs by Kimiko and she gets broken.

Posted by Master Ace 11/04/2010 at 10:03 AM

Colette,
Yes, Bali does not have a doubles tournament like Doha. When I heard about the singles only line last year, it took me a step back for a minute as most courts have doubles line on them.

Posted by Colette 11/04/2010 at 10:09 AM

MA, thanks. It is a bid odd, but kinda' fun to watch - too bad the day job doesn't "accommodate."

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 10:12 AM

Relatively easy hold for Li Na.

Kimiko finally holds.

The marching band comes out. A minute worth of a fireworks show.

Some doubles was actually played earlier at Bali.

Kimiko and Rezai were winners:

http://2009.commbanktennis.com/2009-view.php?subaction=showfull&id=1288773139&archive=&start_from=&ucat=2,14&

30-3-0 on Li Na's serve

Posted by Master Ace 11/04/2010 at 10:12 AM

Colette
+1 on the day job as streaming is banned(except the USO)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 10:18 AM

Kimiko plays two points where her FH doesn't break down and breaks Li Na.

3-3.

Li Na's FH largely misfires next game and Kimiko holds for 4-3.

Posted by GC20 11/04/2010 at 10:19 AM

"Na and Kimiko did not want to play each other"

MA - why is that?

Posted by Master Ace 11/04/2010 at 10:20 AM

GC20,
Both of them from the Asian part of the world and if I recall, they practice with each other but we know how the draw works.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 10:23 AM

3 UFES gets Li Na into all sorts of trouble.

At 0-30, Kimiko fires FH return long.


At BP, Kimiko dumps FH into net.

Li Na survives to 4-4.

Posted by Master Ace 11/04/2010 at 10:24 AM

ManuelsantanaFan,
Will be interesting to see how many UFEs both ladies have when the match is done?

Posted by Krakondack 11/04/2010 at 10:26 AM

RE: "Doping reminds me of the little I know about pornography".

...........

Well Pete, in that also, most people know a lot more than they want to talk about.

Posted by Colette 11/04/2010 at 10:26 AM

Yeah, Kimiko holds and will be receiving for the match.

Posted by lilscot 11/04/2010 at 10:27 AM

Ruth:

I just got back in Ruth and caught your comment. You know, I had that same feeling when I was reading over the comments from last night. The first thing that came to my mind was that it was either one of two new posters using serveral different monikers, or old regulars who were just hiding behind fake names.

The one comment from one of our more level-headed posters, and at the moment I apologize but I can't remember the name. They were responding to one of "those" comments saying that certain players were so muscular, etc. Their response to that silly notion was perfect. They said something to the effect that a professional athlete is supposed to be muscular and fit.

This isn't golf or bowling where you can not be in shape and drink beer all during your match. These are highly trained professional athletes playing a very physical sport. For the NOT to be muscular would be nuts.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 10:27 AM

Kimiko goes up 30-0, using an exquisite drop shot on one point.

Li Na gets back to 30-30 but two UFEs and Kimiko holds.

Posted by Aube,vivre c'est accepter la difference de culture des autres!!! 11/04/2010 at 10:35 AM

I guess I must be doping myself...
really some ridiculous points up here!!!let me concentrate on how Na Li is doing!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/04/2010 at 10:36 AM

Two UFEs and Li Na looking at 0-40, three match points.

Saves first with deep second serve, great approach shot.

Saves second at end of long rally with a good drop shot.

Saves third when Kimiko hits second serve off tape.

Gets to a game point, but Kimiko hits FH winner.

Kimiko stretches Li Na on FH side and Li Na hits xcourt FH wide.

Li Na DFs on 4th match point.

Wonder if Li Na will be playing Asian Games this month. Maybe she'll get a chance for revenge there.

Posted by Fern 11/04/2010 at 11:17 AM

Great! David Nalbandian has just served out his match against Marin Cilic! I like Cilic, but Nalbandian is such a pleasure to watch when he is playing well - fabulous talent.

Posted by test 11/04/2010 at 11:18 AM

test

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/04/2010 at 11:18 AM

tennismuse: how does rafa "show every sign of breaking the rules in private?" what do you know about his private life? As I said last night, I've seen tapes of his workouts and they are back breakingly strenuous. His muscles are natural and he came by them the old-fashioned way, with hard work. Yes, I think he's a heavenly creature for the person he is on the inside as well as the outside. You think he cheats on court? what, because he takes an extra minute to suck down energy gel? That's cheating to you? And he used to be slow to serve but not anymore.

We've read your hollow theory and frankly, no one's buying it.

Posted by lilscot 11/04/2010 at 11:23 AM

Annie:

Dear Annie, I feel your pain. I only wish those people hadn't turned what was a sensible conversation into a page out of the National Enquirer. Do you think they'll go away soon? I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they somehow got off the bus at the wrong stop and will soon realize this and leave us in relative peace again. :)

Posted by wjr 11/04/2010 at 11:33 AM

federer fan wrong. delpo, nalbandy, tsonga , tomas b, ......i will say fed brought me back to mens tennis,though....sorry sfr, u wrong again kid....wake up, and i bet u are a fan of cheaters,oh i mean nadal,do u pick your azz too, or grunt like a girl? maybe your dad helps u cheat?etc.....

Posted by Heather 11/04/2010 at 11:38 AM

Hi everyone! Just popping in for a bit!

Posted by Hank Naib 11/04/2010 at 12:23 PM

Pete,

What do you make of the comments of these obscure players?

Mardy Fish (April 6, 2010): “This is my 11th year. I've seen a few guys come and go who have cheated and he [Wayne Odesnik] seems to be no different."

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/6947113.html

Mahesh Bhupathi (Feb 14, 2009): “The tennis players themselves have brought it (anti-doping rules) upon themselves. A lot of players have been cheating."

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/players-to-blame-for-new-dope-rules-says-bhupathi/423468/

Oh, and don't forgot the comments by Daniel Nestor (some little known guy who has won multiple grand slams for doubles).

Nestor (September 9, 2009): “We suspect that there’s always stuff going on. I mean, we watch some of these matches, the guys play five hours and come back the next day and do it again.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/sports/tennis/10doping.html

What would you like to say to them?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/04/2010 at 12:43 PM

Very interesting Fish quote. You see it seems the cheaters "come and go" - in the long run I don't think doping brings you to the top of the game and you stay there. For that you have to have the natural talent and mindset. The Odesniks are basically losers to begin with and then dope out of desperation. The players like Nadal who has been at the top of the sport for many years and has been tested over and over again, are clean imo. That quote by Nestor is woefully ignorant. He should talk to long distance runners who run 10-15 miles a day. He's a doubles specialist who doesn't have to be in anything like the shape of the top singles players.

Posted by Cheeze Hed 11/04/2010 at 12:56 PM

Apparently there are people here who don't think it's possible for someone to do steroids at age 18. That's been going on for at least 25 years, since I was in high school and kids were doing steroids at 15,16 years old.

That people would scoff at such a notion only shows their complete ignorance on the subject. No wonder they think it's impossible that tennis stars are doping.

Posted by Vie 11/04/2010 at 12:59 PM

I just want to say something about this muscularity thing:

Some people imply that Nadal is big and abnormally muscular (people believe it as if it's gospel truth). To me, he is just an average, well-built guy. He has a beautiful physique, but not muscular in the body-building kind of way. When Federer and Nadal stand and sit beside each other, they look about the same size breadthwise. Federer looks powerful in the shoulder-chest area. The difference in the size or shape of individual muscles in arms, abdomen, buttocks, legs --- the overall look, has more to do about the uniqueness of each individual.

Posted by Hank Naib 11/04/2010 at 01:00 PM

Annie,

Who are you to dismiss Nestor's comments as "woefully ignorant"?

Anyways, here's something from the world of cycling:

Bernard Kohl: “I was tested 200 times during my career, and 100 times I had drugs in my body. I was caught, but 99 other times, I wasn’t. Riders think they can get away with doping because most of the time they do. Even if there is a new test for blood doping, I’m not even sure it will scare riders into stopping. The problem is just that bad.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/05/sports/cycling/05cycling.html?_r=1

So, lots of passed tests doesn't mean much.

Posted by zola 11/04/2010 at 01:40 PM

Pete,

A great article. Rochus seems to have achieved his goal and drew some attention, if not for his results, for his controversial accusations. I am so glad that you wrote about this.

If there is hard evidence about doping and if Rocjus knew about it, he should have informed the ATP. Why talk about it now when he is 237th!?

I hope ATP take action on this. Rochus has to be questioned and has to give all "he knows" to ATP. Then the ATP should take action on those who really did use doping or against Rochus for defaming the sport.

And lastly, tennis is based on skills more than just energy. The players still have to be technically supreme. Something Rochus never was and never will be.

Posted by Hank Naib 11/04/2010 at 01:52 PM

Pete,

Sorry, I forgot to mention Jim Courier in 1999:

"EPO is the problem, I have pretty strong suspicions that guys are using it on the tour. I see guys who are out there week in and week out without taking rests. EPO can help you when it's the fifth set and you've been playing for four-and-a-half hours.''

http://www.newsweek.com/1999/02/14/the-real-scandal.html

Also, as an antidote to Pete's piece here, is this excellent article by Bill Gifford from July 1, 2009:

"While the rest of the sporting world morphs into something resembling pro wrestling, tennis upholds the gentlemanly image of a game untouched by the steroids, blood-boosters, stimulants, and other doping practices that have become almost universal in athletics. How has tennis maintained its pristine reputation? Because the sport's anti-doping program is a joke."

http://www.slate.com/id/2221980

Posted by karin1492 11/04/2010 at 02:01 PM

First off about Justine and those allegations about doping. NO one took them seriously at the time because it was the father of the person she beat for the title that he accused of doping. It came off at the time and was later taken as sour grapes and it was one of the things that damaged the friendship between Henin and Clijsters. They seem to have moved past that and don't you think that if Clijsters seriously thought that Henin doped she would have backed her father? She would have been in the best position to either confirm or deny the reports. As far as Philip de Wulf is concerned, he later apologized for appearing to confirm what Leo Clijsters alleged.

It's appalling to me that people reported and/or take what Christophe Rochus seriously. He's the most minor of ATP players in Belgium and has been obsessed with the amount of coverage he and other male players get from the Belgian media. He threw that in just to make news in Belgium and try to have the last laugh. Instead he came off as a buffoon.

In regards to doping: Who knows if it's going on? I think some people may be using steroids, but not as many as players might think. It's incredibly risky to be using PEDs and I have to think that if any player is using, other players would know and report them. Who is going to let someone else take money from them and knowingly let them cheat in a one-on-one sport? No one who really wants to win, and all of them want to win. Some of it is paranoia, I think. I think lower ranked players are the ones who are far more likely to use PEDs as they are trying to get to the upper echelon where the money is. It also sounds like a bunch of people need to get over their Nadal obsessions when talking about steroids. He hasn't ever been accused or even thought to be using steroids except by people who obviously have an agenda. Get over it people, he's just that physically fit. The same can be said for Federer. He's been at an unimaginable level for so long because he's physically fit and trains to play many matches in a row and many 5 setters.

Posted by wjr 11/04/2010 at 02:04 PM

nandrone,does not give you big arms. energy to work out ,the way you want?etc......pardon my spelling,just drank some,going to run to china now,man i feel great, if this shit wears out ill find a toilet and do some more. steroids don,t mean big muscle,s you dumb azzes............

Posted by Sherlock 11/04/2010 at 02:07 PM

Interesting Slate article. Though it's funny that he says, "Even John McEnroe admitted taking corticosteroids during his career", like it's something earth-shattering. I took corticosteroids for quite some time. The author is quite confused on that one. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne has 2 more days in jail,Vamos Wayne! 11/04/2010 at 02:08 PM

Good Morning Everyone,

I would like a Drug Free day

Karin1492 Good post I have just finished reading it.

Posted by Colette 11/04/2010 at 02:11 PM

Yes, tennis anyone? Andy Roiddick is up a set and a break on Golubev.

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