There was a great deal of attention paid to doping in the sport this year by both players and the media, but the real story of 2013 was loose ends from the past that cast a shadow over the sport...
The first loose end emerged in February with an article by Jacquelin Magnay of the Telegraph titled "International Tennis Federation to increase testing on players linked to Dr Luis García del Moral." Magnay wrote that "anti-doping bodies remain
concerned that some players may be continuing to work with Del Moral despite
the warning and have therefore increased the level of testing undergone by
those under suspicion." The ITF claimed to have investigated the TenisVal-Del Moral connection in 2012, but no details about that investigation have been disclosed, beyond the fact the ITF interviewed some players. It remains to be seen if the ITF stepped up testing on former clients of Dr. Del Moral.
The second loose end dominating 2013 was Wayne Odesnik. In June, Nick Harris at Sporting Intelligence published transcripts that revealed Odesnik provided the ITF with information related to both matching fixing and doping. However, to date, no anti-doping violation has been linked to information provided by Odesnik. Additionally, Odesnik was tied to the Biogenesis/doping clinic scandal that enveloped Major League Baseball. The ITF claimed they were investigating the Biogenesis situation, but, similar to the case of Del Moral, neither details nor anti-doping violations have emerged.
Also, Alex Duff of Bloomberg reported that a "former Spanish [Tennis] federation president, said in an
interview in Madrid last week that “many times” tennis
authorities have kept cases secret." Unfortunately, these allegations do not appear to have been investigated any further.
One loose end that 2013 resolved was provisional suspensions. The Marin Cilic decision revealed publicly for the very first time that a player could fabricate an excuse to withdraw from a tournament when they were in fact serving a provisional suspension due to an alleged anti-doping violation. Many in the tennis media seemed surprised that this could occur, which served to highlight the widespread lack of understanding about anti-doping rules.
One good news story of 2013 was the increased interest in anti-doping issues by the tennis media, especially those in the United Kingdom. Simon Cambers has continued to impress with his interviews (like this one with Don Catlin). Nick Harris's Odesnik piece was also strong and represented a rare piece of investigative journalism in tennis.
For 2014, the ITF's test distribution plan, transparency and, more importantly, the quality and rigor of their approach to investigating potential anti-doping rule violations must continue to be questioned and probed. One area of particular interest is the storing and retesting of samples. For example, it is unknown whether the ITF has retested any stored samples of
former clients of Dr. Del Moral (or whether the ITF even possesses
stored samples to retest). The details on how the ITF intends to analyze biological passport data is also unknown.
Thanks for your continued support,