Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In the news (Updated)

Some bits and pieces from the news:

"Exclusive Excerpt: How MLB let A-Rod use PEDs during '07 season"

"Chris Evert's and Pam Shriver's comments on Serena's incident"

"Martina Navratilova isn't buying Serena Williams' excuse for bizarre on-court behavior"

"Mystery of Serena Williams' Wimbledon meltdown deepens... with doubts cast over her 'viral illness' explanation"

Update: There been some comments about TUEs in tennis. I've posted about this previously, noting that in 2012, according to the ITF:
"A total of 38 Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) were granted under the TADP in 2012. The average time from receipt of a complete TUE application to a decision by the TUE Committee was 2.6 days."

82 comments:

  1. I'm curious as to what Shriver and Evert may have seen in the lockers before the match. I was surprised with the comments they made during the match given how the commentary normally goes out of its way to sidestep any shortcomings she may or may not have.

    Serena has an impressive knack for getting involved in situations where there is a small mountain of circumstantial evidence suggesting all is not what it seems, without ever quite surrendering a crucial piece of evidence.

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  2. Good press on Serena's utterly strange behaviour. No way was this caused by a virus. We all know she's been a doper for some years now, if not longer. The Munich incident is a lie, she evaded a drug tester at home, and now this. It does not take a genius to put the pieces together.

    I guess it's unfortunate that I am impressed with press such as the above links. The noise should be a LOT louder than this, but unfortunately this is almost as loud as it gets.

    I am glad she's out of wimbledon altogether now. Hopefully dimitrov can upset Djokovic in which case we could have an interesting final. Would be like tennis from the old days, no matter who he plays from the bottom half.

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  3. I think it's pretty clear that Serena didn't have a virus. The question is whether she was on something or faking it. I have to admit I've been 50-50 on that question, but I'm leaning towards that she was faking it. Why she was faking is another question. I always assume it has something to do with doping. Was she trying to escape a doping control? It is also curious that she continued to play and Venus just stood there like nothing was happening.

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    1. It takes quite a lot of skill for a pro to hit 4 consecutive double faults.

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    2. Yeah, I don't believe she's that good an actor; she definitely looked high on something. What erratic behaviour still. Somehow reminds me of the Luke Wilson character having a meltdown on the tennis court in The Royal Tenenbaums.

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    3. At first I thought she was stoned, but apparently her sister, and others said she was fine just before the match. As well, Serena had expressed that she was disappointed in losing in singles, and didn't want to play doubles.

      I am now leaning towards "faking it".

      Such a drama Queen.

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    4. The "going missing for two days" immediately after losing in singles seems to back the "faking it" theory. I am pretty sure she has faked injury/illness in the past (cut foot?, missed tournaments she didn't want to play, due to "injury).

      Because the media hasn't called on her past lies, she probably thought she could get away with any lame excuse.

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    5. Again, I think Serena misused or abused insulin. Given that her beautifil personality drove away her coach, my guess is that her coach prepped her meds and without him, she just injected herself too much insulin. That led to hypoglycemia. Since common hypoglycemia is normally treated by just ingesting glucose and usually the symptoms don't last that long, they insisted to continue to play despite Serena's obvious 'drunkenness', because they thought she would get better in time. Seems they couldn't stall the game that long.

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  4. Those old women acting like they care while they are just some old vultures. one them saying she is not buying Serena's explanation as if Serena put anything on sale for her to buy. At that age, one would have thought they would have wisen up but alas. Why don't they spend time again their children and grand children not tun into the pain they are for others? Or may be they still trying to figure out their sex? Why don't they spend time doing that and keep their misery away from others?

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    1. Looks like the virus is contagious.

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    2. Brilliant Ed. You know where to hit.

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    3. How could these tennis commentators dare to talk about tennis? Preposterous.

      (Now he wave 3 trolls lurking around here)

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  5. Reading through that article on A-Rod, is that really how it works? One of the richest, most successful athletes in the world hooks up with a doping clinic through his goofy cousin who went to them for weight loss pills? It sounds so Keystone Kops to me. You'd think top athletes with all the money in the world would have a more systematic way of finding what they're looking for. I know these doping rings can't exactly post an ad on Craigslist, but still...

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    1. A-rod used to be a 'client' of Dr Galea, the Canadian doctor who was also "working" with Tiga Tiga Woods y'all among other pro athletes. Biogenesis, which is in A-rod's hometown of Miami, makes sense as a lot of Miami based athletes were going there including a number of athletes from the University of Miami who A-rod had been training with since he was in high school Obviously this Dr Galea was probably a bit more handy to have considering he was willing to fly all over the US and Canada to personally inject 'clients' with HGH & calf's blood himself.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/anthony-galea-pleads-guilty-drugs_n_891672.html

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  6. How many tennis players are taking testosterone for performance enhancement under the guise of a TUE? What do we know, if anything, about the use of TUEs generally in tennis? Again. the ITF's lack of openness and transparency over the issue of TUEs provides cover for all manner of abuse by players and their doctors.

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    1. Show me a TUE beneficiary and I'll show you a doper. Like you, I'd love to know who has gotten them over the years.

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  7. A-Rod probably did have hypogonadism and low testosterone - because he had been doping for years and his body no longer made testosterone naturally. No way could you get to the big leagues (much less as a star player), with low testosterone. It's interesting that he got the TUE and it's even more interesting that they presumably took it away from him at some point.

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    1. Some are saying he has been using since at least junior high school... It's fascinating to think he could have used, not only his entire career, but before, as a teen, which led him to become a first overall pick and much ballyhooed prospect. If so, Alex Rodriguez is, to me at least, in the company of guys like Jose Canseco who needed to cheat to become great. Whereas other bad human beings like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were great before but cheated later on because of jealousy/greed/pride whatever.

      Anyhow, I'd love to read a tell all by ARod one day. Unfortunately, we'll probably never know the whole truth from the horse's mouth, as a narcissist/sociopath/mythomaniac like him is unlikely to tell the truth (does he even have that ability anymore? Lying for a lifetime must do wonders to one's psyche...

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  8. Lionel Messi (arguably the best soccer/football player in the world) used HGH from an early age. Supposedly, because he had a medical condition that required it.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1492546-lionel-messi-and-hgh-the-truth-about-the-best-footballer-in-the-world

    The problem is, when someone is young, they are not scrutinized by any sports organizations, or the public. If they come from a country where ethics are low (ie. countries with many doping doctors), even young people who don't have any medical condition, can get a legal prescription, under the guise of "medical need".

    Would an unscrupulous doctor give a young person like this :

    http://images2.fanpop.com/image/photos/9700000/Rafa-young-rafael-nadal-9708983-616-362.jpg

    a prescription for HGH, because he had narrow, bony shoulders, helping to turn him into this ?

    http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/FIcivbHtF7c/0.jpg

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    1. I think that is a stretch. I do think tennis players push the limits but Rafael is just a big dude genetically. Look at his dad and uncles.

      Fwiw it's known Nadal and others are now using stem cells which are biologically identical to their genes and blood. No test can ever be developed for this and it's legal right now.

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    2. Or how about this kid who went from a short pudgy 13 year only to a skinny as a rake 6'4"

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/image/5562332-3x2-700x467.jpg

      http://img.ibtimes.com/www/data/images/full/2014/07/02/448520-nick-kyrgios-of-australia-hits-a-return-during-his-mens-singles-tennis.JPG


      I suspect that HGH is being used by many pre-teens, and teens who have hopes (or their parents/uncles have hopes) of becoming pro athletes. Being taller, and bigger helps in most sports (basketball, NFL, NHL, Tennis).

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    3. Nadal's father, and uncle Toni are only average height. His Uncle Miguel Angel (the football player) was about 6'2", but he played for Barca, and Spain, both are well known to employ doping doctors.

      If Uncle Miguel Angel used HGH as a teen, that negates the "hereditary" argument.

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    4. I have also been suspicious of Sharapova, and Roddick, who both had late growth spurts, and are MUCH taller than their family members.

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    5. That photo of Nadal looks photoshopped.

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    6. I am pretty sure both Nadal photos are legit. He is not that big at the moment, but in 2008 he was huge.

      I got both photos from a google images search.

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    7. I think that the "after" photo has been used here before.

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    8. There is some doubt that Kyrgios was 13 in his "before" photo, however (people from his hometown say he looks younger than 13 in that photo).

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    9. The picture is real: http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/this-man-looks-angry-about-drug-testing.html

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    10. Thanks for this. I knew it wasn't photoshopped , and that I have seen it here before.

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    11. Former pro tennis player Johan Kriek has the same suspicions as me.

      " I see juniors in tennis and I wonder why is this girl or boy 6 foot 4 and only 14 years old, and the parents are 5’8″? Must be from the grandparents … Yeah, right …"

      From :
      http://www.tennisfrontier.com/blogs/johan-kriek/johan-kriek-on-drugs-in-sport/

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    12. Gotta love this post from that THASP discussion about the photo of Nadal (in 2009):

      AnonymousJune 16, 2009 at 12:57 PM
      Actually its quite obvious with Nadal. He was a good but not great Player until 2004. Then he had a long injury break and came back as the strongest guy in tennis. And instantly after his injury he became unbeatable on clay.

      How many times have we seen this guy do the impossible? He did it after his absence in 2009 and then again after taking off 7 months post Wimbledon 2012. How ridiculous that people still think he's clean. He is never injured during the clay season. This year was his worst clay season since 2004, when he was 17 and won his first title ever, which was also his only title that year. (The next year he won 11 titles, including RG.) I wonder why that is? Maybe he's had a health scare and has had to tone it down a bit.

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    13. Uncle Toni says

      "At 16, his body just exploded. But he has been very little in the gym. Just some resistance work with rubber bands for injury prevention.Nadal doesn't run the hills of Mallorca. There isn't a workout center where you'll find him between tournaments. Toni, who has nurtured his nephew's tennis for 13 years, says the best place to train is on court. "

      From This :
      http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2005-08-28/sports/0508270457_1_kid-s-powerful-stature-toni-nadal-uncle-and-coach


      Of course uncle phony uses the argument that it is just genetic, yet Rafa towers over him, and his father.
      http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Rafael+Nadal+2012+Australian+Open+Previews+Rl1_c1HSQtBl.jpg

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    14. Yeah, sure. You can get a body like that by hitting tennis balls. Is this guy for real? He must take us for a bunch of idiots. But then I guess we are since he's gotten away with it for 10 years.

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    15. To those who use Rafa's uncle Miguel Angel's size as a reason for Rafa's size (much larger than his father, or uncle Toni), note his uncle's "large head". You can get a large head (look at Barry Bond's "before and after" pictures), from HGH and steroids. He played at Barcelona, and the Spanish national teams. Both hired staff doping doctors.

      "He earned the nickname 'The Beast' mostly because he was just a big old unit with a huge head."

      From:
      http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/la_liga/47636/the-football-hard-man-index-no-7-miguel-angel-nadal-the-beast.html

      Picture :
      http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/PA-183423.jpg

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    16. Females stop growing at 15-17, while males stop growing and reach their maximum height at 17-20, perhaps some going to 21. The build though, is another story. It is determined by genetics, but also the results from NATURAL fitness.

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  9. I knew as soon as she lost her singles match that they would withdraw from the doubles, there was no way she'd be sticking around for it. I saw her in their first round doubles match and she was abysmal in that match. I found that incident very peculiar, especially as others have found it strange too. I think she over-doped before Wimbledon, to make sure she could come back after the FO and she paid the price. I'm looking out for any long and suspicious absences she now has. Great to see that Daily Mail (whom I loathe) article mention the panic room incident too. It's the first time I've seen it in a mainstream paper.

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  10. http://www.4dfoot.com/2013/02/09/doping-in-football-fifty-years-of-evidence/

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  11. Well, we will see if there is a pattern in the future... as per really curious case below.


    "As the 2005 season drew to a close, Coria's form started to dip alarmingly as a result of the high number of double faults he was serving in an increasing number of his matches. Coria lost 9 of his last 11 matches of 2005.

    Coria's service yips got increasingly worse in 2006, although he still managed to reach the third round of the 2006 Australian Open and managed a victory over Novak Djokovic at the 2006 Miami Masters without serving any double faults.

    At the 2006 Monte Carlo Masters, Coria came back from 1–6, 1–5 down to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu, despite serving 20 double faults in the match. Coria then defeated Nicolas Kiefer, despite serving 22 double faults, but he was then easily beaten by Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals"

    (talking about curious cases, no comments of another GS final by Federer :-), on route to his 8th wimby at 32, that's so normal)

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    1. Do you think Federer's performance has been out of this world? What is suspicious about it, other than the fact that he's 32? He played three sets against Raonic. In fact he's only lost one set all tournament. Has managed to keep the rallies short and to serve well. He hasn't expended a lot of energy. He certainly didn't over-exert himself much in any of his matches, except maybe against Wawrinka, who seemed to be ailing. Do you think Federer would have beaten Nadal if Nadal was in form?

      Jimmy Connors won the US Open at 31. I guess he was doping then?

      Rod Laver won all four majors in 1969, the year he turned 31. I guess he was doping to the MAX!!!

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    2. I'd like to add that after 1969 Laver won 37 more titles, well into his 30's. And retired when he was 39 I think. Connors was still playing professional tennis into his 40's and won 9 more titles after that last US Open. He made it to the SF's of the US Open at 39.

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    3. yeah... if, for instance, Federer were to start firing 140 mph service bombs because he changed the way he grips his racquet, I would be concerned, lol. Otherwise, he has had a pretty easy draw for a change (save for Wawrinka's presence). I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary for him.

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    4. According to grand slam records, there have been 18 grand slam winners on the men's tour aged over 30 - the oldest being Ken Rosewall at 37. (Agassi played his last grand slam final at 35.) At 32, Roger is still in the ball-park. Even so, he is not as good as he was in 2004-8. But with Nadal and Murray out of his way he may be luckier.

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    5. Federer has so far kept the points short and has served well (new racquet perhaps?) So his matches have been relatively short, and compared to Djokovic has spent significantly less time on court (5 hours less). As most watching his matches have noticed, he seems to be playing very aggressively and coming into the net more. At his age it’s not going to help if he stayed behind the baseline the majority of the time. That would only lead to him expanding too much energy which would be tough to recover from for later matches (assuming he’s clean)

      http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/federer-rediscovers-an-old-tactic-at-wimbledon/
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      Anyway, Djokovic has stated his tactics for the match: “The key against him in the game, of course, is trying to not allow him to dictate too much because he likes to be very aggressive, he likes to come to the net. I’m going to have to be able to get as many returns back in the court and try to also stay closer to the line, protect the baseline”
      http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2014-07-05/16319.php
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      Seems the plan is to try and grind him down and also engage in many long rallies.

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    7. "Do you think Federer would have beaten Nadal if Nadal was in form?"

      On this slippery court with a closed roof and an in form Federer? Sure.

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    8. Federer has won one GS in the last 4 years. He has lost more matches, and won fewer tournaments each year for the last 7 years. Even the Men's Tennis Forums have a Thread "Is this Roger's last chance at a slam". People can see his deterioration over time is normal. Attacking players (like Sampras, Federer) have later, and longer peaks than defensive players (like Chang, Borg, Wilander, Nadal).

      He has performed a little better this year than last. This may be attributable to a persistent sore back that he had last year, or that his opponents have to reduce their doping due to the biological passport. Regardless, most people are not expecting Roger to win more than 1 or 2 more slams.

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    9. Of course if Roger has a 2015 like Nadal did in 2013, after a seven month break, then we can talk.

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    10. Or a Nadal -3 slams - 2010 after his 2009 decline.

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    11. I think that we can talk regardless. can't we?

      During the final Fed played 4 hours at an unbelievable rhythm, until the last point. He only lost because Djokovic played better, but nothing related to endurance in my view. Physically he looked peaking during Wimby,

      Anyway, as usual most bloggers will concentrate in anybody else apart from Federer. It is funny how people goes back to the Armstrong miracle saying "I was sure there was something there", (yes yes, he plays effortless etc...)

      As for everybody else, they will also be doing anything in their hands to be at their peak. The rules are the same for everybody

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    12. Rallyes were generally pretty short, Federer had a hard time hitting through the court, which is consistent with the player he has become - and his age... I fail to see what was so strange about Federer's performance today.

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    13. Djokovic had more than twice as many break chances, than Federer did. It certainly did NOT come down to a single point. Roger was lucky he didn't lose in 4.

      Of course, we get more propaganda from the roidmonkey supporter (hispantsarefullofshit).

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    14. Has the power of Federer's serve suddenly gone up? Is he crushing his groundstrokes with more power than he ever has? Does he cover the court like a combination of Usain Bolt and a Kenyan marathon runner? Is he a better player now than when he was routinely winning slams between 2003-8? Has he come back from injury breaks of months at a time to sweep all before him on his least favorite service? No? So what is there to "talk" about? Oh, yeah - if Nadal has had one of the most dubious careers of any major sportsman (aside from Lance) then so has Federer. Yawn.

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    15. To be fair to both players yesterday, it was a fantastic match where quality was concerned. Although there was some gets from Djokovic that made me raise my eyebrow, overall they seemed to cover equal amounts of distance on the court, and it was nothing like the Djokovic Nadal finals.

      There was nothing to suggest that Federer is doping, except that he still is playing exceptionally well at his age. I doubt we'd have seen him in the final on any other surface though, and to be fair, his draw was kind to him.

      But this detracts from the more objective view, and the more necessary points to be addressed. What was testing at Wimbledon like? Is tennis's system ever going to change for the better so that we have less doubts about what we are watching?

      What concerns me is that the situation may now be getting worse. There are people who suggest Federer playing at this age is dubious - and I think that is more to do with motivation than anything else, and there are others who suggest Nadal and Djokovic won't play on at the same level at 32. I think Djokovic can go on forever, its just whether he will be motivated to. Nadal? If he does, the already huge suspicion he is under will just get bigger.

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    16. It is funny how people goes back to the Armstrong miracle saying "I was sure there was something there", (yes yes, he plays effortless etc...)

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      How does "I was sure there was something there" equate to he must be on PEDs because he plays effortlessly? Nadal is the player who has had such suspicions around him. Since he exploded to tour he has being fighting off doping allegations. There's a reason why Federer has never been offered the same level of scrutiny as Nadal has been his whole career. If anything Rafael Nadal is the true Armstrong of Tennis: http://oncourt.ca/news/2013/03/22/michael-emmett-is-there-a-connection-between-rafa-and-lance/

      Beacon, I too wonder what the testing at Wimbledon was like. I guess they are still keeping up with lose targeted testing.

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    17. I have heard that the "loser only" in-competition testing has changed, but they are still only tested after matches. This gives them 48 hours between matches at the slams.

      Since the types of drugs that are likely being used (EPO, Testosterone) are "hot" for less than 12 hours, the players can dope on off days at grand slams, without any fear of getting caught.

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    18. Well, whether you like it or not, Fed is competing with Novak in equal terms at 32 for 4 hours.

      Is that enough to suspect? On the basis of what is read on this blog, should be. But, no for many, Dimitrov is more suspicious. Does that make me laugh? yes it does.

      The point is, half of the bloggers here are frustrated Fed fans, pissed off because their idol loses to Nadal again and again.

      Well, I am afraid that the rules are the same, and to be where Fed has been for so many years (goldenageofdrugs time), and assuming all your suspects have doped, it is reasonable to assume that he has also done it, and more lately, to crawl back to number 3 in the world. Good luck with the rest of the season Fed fans ;-)

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    19. Rubbish, there are Fed fans who know (like me) that Federer may well be doping, and probably has been doing so for a long time. He just ISN'T AS SUSPICIOUS as other candidates, and his game doesn't rely on physicality as much; hence all the vitriol directed towards Nadal.

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    20. That is why it is not fair, some might even say sexist or bias, but how come when Federer had a few more losses in the past couple of years, the media wastes no time pouncing by saying "this is the end of Federer?" which leads to the SHEEPLE part of the public to follow it without thinking for themselves. Meanwhile, when Serena has a few losses, the media says nothing, nor do the sheeple. She is the same age as Roger Federer. On that note, it's women's tennis where it's simply time for their "Changing of the guard", in fact it's been long due.

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  12. Meanwhile Petra Nadal is cruising to her 2nd Wimbledon title.

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    1. Kvitova hasn't won a tournament this year. Not one. Until today. She destroyed the next best player in the tournament as though she was playing a junior, or someone ranked in the 100's. Bouchard was helpless - as though she was playing a man out there. Yep - Kvitova would have beaten Nadal today..

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    2. The WTA has been dreadful for about 13 years now, too much steroids and physicality have killed the sport and taken all the plan B and creativity out of the game. When was the last truly great final or rivalry? I try to watch the doubles now, as that's the only place you see volleys, lobs etc.

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    3. Isn't Petra a very streaky player who can blast any opponent off the court but only once in a blue moon? After her Wimbledon win in 2011 much was expected of her but she didn't win any other slam until now. Nadal OTOH is a beast who plays high percentage tennis and exhausts his opponents.

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    4. Sure, Kvitova is streaky, but Bouchard was also unable to adapt to the pace -- mainly on the serve. The commentators kept making such a big deal about how "early" Bouchard took the serves. Ok. Let's look at it. Cornet's average 1st serve against Bouchard: 98mph. Petkovic: 94mph. Kerbers: 91MPH. Halep: 96mph. Kivitova: 106mph.

      So, a pretty big increase in serve speed and Bouchard did the same thing she did against Halep and everyone else. Generally, people are smart enough to realize that when they beat the last 4 people and those people are all shorter than you, then you need to do something different when you play someone taller than you.

      In any case, my long standing belief is that Kvitova does not dope but instead has PCOS. This would give her excessive testosterone as well as a variety of hormonal imbalance issues. This explains her "streaky" play as well as why she has so much body fat in her midsection -- far too much for a top athlete without such a condition.

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    6. @ Tommy Ass

      If Kvitova had hit the ball any harder it would have come through my tv screen.

      She also covered the court at warp speed. I bet she could have stiffed a few guys from the ATP tour out there. Of course it's natural for a woman player to be able to do that. All of a sudden.

      This is a player who has lost to nobodies all year. Like the Meg Ryan movie character says - "I'll have what she's having!

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    7. And such an amazing performance from a player who retired for injury at Eastbourne QF just 2 weeks earlier. She for sure recovered extremely quickly...

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    9. Tommy Troll Hass (surely the "h" is redundant), incapable of making a point without recourse to obscenity? Go on - prove me right.

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    10. I just don't see the match as "lights out" as other people here do. Sure, Kvitova played well. But was it indicative of doping? Inconsistent? Yes. But what doping is going to give you is power, speed, endurance, and mental focus/reduced reaction time.

      Now, when a woman is blasting 125mph aces every other point and has an average 1st serve speed on par with Nadal, you suspect doping (Serena). But Kvitova's fastest serve was 113 and she averaged 106 -- fairly typical for the WTA, and he is 6'.

      I didn't see he running down that many balls either. Bouchard hit 6 winners -- and given that Bouchard only won 37 points, that is 16% of her points.

      Also, if you look at the serves, Bouchard put a numer of serves in the middle of the box. Looking at the match stats, her fastest serves on both sides were in the middle of the box. In contrast Kvitova didn't hit a single serve that was classified as "middle of the box."

      To me that just shows lack of planning/coaching for Bouchard. It appears that her strategy was "whack it hard as I can right at her." Well, that might work with Halep, but it didn't work here.

      In terms of endurance, the match lasted about 1 hour -- so no reason to dope up on EPO or xenon, the match is over by the time you might get tired anyway.

      I get it with Serena, Ferrer, Dopevic, etc. Each of these has some dramatic characteristics that really sick out as "not normal" in terms of power, endurance, and speed/endurance. I just didn't see that in the Kvitova final. Looked more like Bouchard was over confident and didn't come in with a wining game plan and didn't change it at all.

      Kvitova's ground strokes did have a decent amount of power, but keep in mind how few she needed to hit. It is one thing to average 75 mph in a 20 shot rally and a completely different thing to "average" 75 mph in a 2-3 shot rally.

      Could have been some type of ADHD doping -- she definitely was focused, and this is the a very common type of doping. So, I'll give you a "maybe" on ADHD doping, but I don't see evidence of anything else.

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    12. You might be looking at the picture the wrong way. Cilic, Troiki, Strycova and Odesnik (for example) have all had doping bans. Do any of them resemble Nadal powerhouses? No. Dopers come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.

      The more significant indicator that a player might be doping is precisely that they are playing - by their standards - unusually well, and sometimes far better than they have been. Kvitova has done relatively little since her stand-out success of 3 years ago. This year she has done absolutely nothing of significance, except lose in the early rounds of most tournaments. But then at this Wimbledon she has surpassed herself. Where does that sudden change in form come from? It's not as if she is coming off an untypical dip. Her long-term game has produced few consistent results. For the sake of argument, if in this Wimbledon final she had played herself from earlier in the year the outcome would have been a complete drubbing .

      So how was she winning her matches at Wimbledon this year? Not by court craft but by sheer power. She simply whacked all her opponents off the court, and didn't miss. Where does power like that come from - in a female player?

      The points against Bouchard averaged only 2.6 shots. That was because Bouchard could not get into a rally, given Kvitova's pace of shot. It didn't matter whether it was a serve, return, or a ball on the run - Kvitova had way too much power, from any position. That means her court speed was also way better than it had been. Some of her ground strokes were up at 100mph - the equivalent of fastest ATP speed. As for her only averaging 106mph on the serve - well, since Kvitova is mainly hitting a slice delivery and not flat that is very very fast. It's what Federer hits on his slice delivery.

      My last point is not specifically about Kvitova but the professional game generally. Because of the near undetectable nature of modern doping, and the glaring inadequacy of the game's anti-doping programme I consider tennis to be pretty much on a par with where professional cycling has been. The safe bet is that more players than not are likely to be doped - and especially winners.

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  13. http://instagram.com/p/qC6GsdI1lM/

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    1. Serena looks dreadful there. But shouldn't she be in bed if she has that viral illness?

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    3. She looks terrible but as Lopi said why is she not in bed?

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    4. Maybe the virus was on the Apple computer featured so prominently in the other photo. But hey, when you lose in the 3rd round, you probably need to pick up some product placement deals to pay the bills.

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    5. Ewwww. Looks like she was at Wireless Festival too, if I had a 'viral infection', the last place I'd go is to a music festival.

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  15. Dateline Wimbledon 2001:

    ''I just think my problem is that I'm a hypochondriac,'' Williams said today. ''That's it.''

    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/04/sports/tennis-capriati-rally-runs-serena-williams-off-court.html

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  16. Besides the doping issue and need to clean up tennis (and any sport), it's also time to minimize the racquets and strings. Time for more regulations in the material and even head sizes. The pro tours needs to have same size racquet heads (smaller ones) and similar racquet compositions to pinpoint who are best. It is pure anarchy out there on the tour now. Since the pros are supposedly stronger, faster and fitter more than ever, it's even more time to scale back the racquets and strings. In the past 10 or so years, it's been mainly lower-quality tennis with the goal of outhitting, and an error-fest - of course, minus the recent true talents Federer, Henin, Schiavone. In the classic era (wood), and even the early part of the modern era (graphites), players had to hone their craft and really develop their shots and technique. The true art of tennis. They were forced to create their own pace as well.

    Today's overdone racquets let players hide behind them. Fake champions and results are being made. If the equipment was scaled back, then we'd see a much different top 10 and the true talents and artists move forward and be ranked where they should be. Wood racquets may be far-fetched, but the racquets of the 80s to the mid-1990s were more than enough.

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  17. Don't forget the recreational/club level of tennis suffering these days as well. Too much ugly tennis, no skill or no skill creation, ERRORS galore, balls flying, and the goal of recreational players to outhit and just pace pace pace. Disgusting. Time to scale back the racquets and strings. Players need to create again.

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  18. Struggles all week with what seemed to be severe lethargy - like she's had all year - and suddenly in the semis she's super woman again. So extreme, but don't bother tying to have intelligent speculation on it with any fans as the STAR system in this society is full steam ahead! You attack a STAR then you attack the FAN. Psychotic Symbiosis.

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