Friday, August 15, 2014

Just in Time for the US Open: Biogenesis & Odesnik

Courtesy of Jon Wertheim:


49 comments:

  1. Hopes this makes a big big splash that draws other journalists to investigate tennis.

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  3. I haven't read this book, so I don't have all the context. Does being in the notebooks 26 times mean that Odesnik was in their records as having 26 separate transactions, or does it simply mean that he was in record-keeping "documents" 26 times for a variety of reasons. For instance, if I have a book-tax difference in financial documents, it may show up as financial income and then the amount (and label for the item) may show up in other places throughout the document, but that wouldn't mean that it happened multiple times.

    If the implication is 26 separate transactions, that's pretty remarkable.

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    1. Also, does anybody know if Neil Harman "re-tweeted" the Wertheim post? It would be a shame for sentences with words like "lamentable" to avoid duplication.

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    2. I'd read somewhere that the documents showed Odesnik was paying the clinic $500 a month for HGH. A number of these entries will be the record of the dollar amounts paid by Odesnik for his doping.

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    3. If it is 26 separate transactions, that certainly seems like a lot for one person, which suggests the possibility that he was picking some up for others. It would be interesting to know what the quantitiy was and whether it would be possible for one human's consumption. It would also be interesting to know how he keeps passing drug tests (presumably). Of course, he denies it all, so it can't possibly be true.

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    4. If, presumably, Odesnik was acting as a dealer on the side, you would think that any federation taking their fight against doping serious would like to look into that information and actually check if the ordered HGH quantities were for Odesnik alone, or, if other players are indeed involved as well.

      The ITF and USTA, methinks, should also investigate whether any players, in particularly young players from the Miami scene (Bolletieri) are involved as well. Remember, Biogenisis excelled particularly in selling that stuff to underage football and baseball players. No doubt that this could also have happened in tennis.

      As for Wertheim's odd choice of vocabulary: the only lamentable thing I spot in this is the current state of tennis. Odesnik is by no means "lamentable". Deplorable is what he did and what the ITF knowingly covered up over decades. The complicitness in all this and the volitional ignorance and blatant Three-Monkeys-policy is what makes your hair stand on end!

      Shall we give Wertheim the benefit of the doubt then and pretend he was unaware of what 'lamentable' actually means while browsing in his Thesaurus in search for pretentious words to outdo Harman? This would exculpate him from his fancy but poor choice of words...No worries, I have no desire to do that though!

      Wertheim clearly knew what he was sayiing. Yet, how in a sane mind mind can you think this Odesnik cretin is "lamentable"?

      In other, related news: Nadal is a no-show for the USO. Color me surprised!

      So did he possibly have to pull out after some protests from other players about his HgH/Growth Facor gate? Maybe it was too obvious, afterall?

      Anyway, good for Federer.

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    5. Team_KickAss,
      That is interesting. If you do a Thesaurus on deplorable (in Word), you get "disgraceful" and "lamentable". You can almost see Wertheim deciding that he didn't want to take a harsh chance with "deplorable" or "disgraceful," so he went with "lamentable." At least it's something, but it does water down the force of the tweet somewhat.

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    6. I wonder if reading that "book" led him to more serious thoughts on doping in tennis than this tweet. I mean, just by glimpsing on that page and maybe skimming over some of the reported details makes your brain explode with tennis-related questions, don't you think?

      You would think this would make for a great longform article for SI. Any GOOD reporter would grab that chance...I would!

      I have been harping on about Wertheim here and elsewhere for quite some time and whenever I have been particularly harsh, in retrospect, I felt like I maybe could have given him some encouragement, or appeal to his ethics to maybe put him on the right track ...
      Yet, then again, I reminded myself that he evidentally suffers from Stockholm syndrom for his entire existence depends on tennis, so it might be in vain to appeal to his better, critical self - if that ever existed...

      By the way, could you get hold of a copy of that Biogenesis "book", THASP?

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  4. I think I heard that Odesnik received a WC into the US Open. What a joke.

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    1. He won the USTA wild card challenge by competing in summer minor events, so not a choice by organizers.

      My guess is that they would be be happier if he fell into a crack in the earth and was never heard of again. All his presence will do is put the spot-light back on doping, and his mysterious "co-operation" with doping investigators.

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    2. I agree with arcus. The USTA was probably hoping that Odesnik would fail to qualify. I doubt they want him there.

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  5. The HGH test only works for up to 3 weeks. If Nadal would have had HGH, or IGF1 injections just before his splint went on, it would be about 4 weeks to his first USO match.

    Coincidence ?

    Here is a picture of Nadal getting ready for the USO.
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BvG8bHFCEAMGNWK.jpg
    Can anyone say "HGH" thigh ?

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  6. I find journalists' beating the dead nag in lieu of hunting the prancing studs much "lamentabler".

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  7. This speaks to the likelihood that tennis officials are covering for Odesnik. A player who has already been caught with HGH, had his suspension shortened , then is implicated for HGH again and they either didn't even try to look into it, or they decided to do nothing about it. The only explanation for that, in my opinion, is that Odesnik cut a deal with tennis officials that he wouldn't blow the lid off of a PED scandal if they let him back in the game. The fact that he is further embraced by other players who are likely dopers, only reinforces this. The real question is why no tennis journalists are really taking this up. "Lamentable" is a start. Is that all there is, though? Just call it lamentable when the guy is still out there playing like some sort of slap on the wrist?

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    1. I co-sign all of the above.

      However, the one with the HGH wrist did not get a slap-of-the-wrist treatment this time around: Nadal is out for the USO.

      Did he pull out because the ITF did not want to protect him through his HGH/Growth factor stunt this time around? Or is he simply doing this to gear up for the next season, 2nd AO title and all?

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    2. what's weird is it was the USTA that announced the withdrawal and not the nadal camp directly. if i recall correctly, it's always the players who announce it (especially the nadal camp). it seems a little... imposed? or maybe i'm just overthinking

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    3. Seven month break coming up.

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    4. It's already begun. He'll be back in time for the clay season in South America. People must be sooo stupid to think this is anything but a ban.

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    5. Did Nadal give up the entire USO series(his least favorite surface) to lend more street cred to his latest "injury"? Getting "injured", pulling out of 2 prep tournaments and coming back strong for the USO would have been too obvious and the injury would also be considered as relatively minor. Now, he has this big bad injury which has made him miss a grand slam tournament so it helps in making him eligible for a huge dose of new "treatment". Given how David Ferrer runs around like a roid fueled robot at 32-33, it isn't far fetched to think that Nadal will do the same at 32-33. So he still has a 4-5 year time window to win slams, with a few more "injuries" and comebacks thrown in. Will the authorities ever wise up to his ways and tap him on the shoulder or will they continue to give him a free pass?

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    6. He will be back for the Aus Open, to get his "double career slam".

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    7. The right wrist is the new knee, no?


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    8. Nadal out is great news for the tourney b/c now everyone has a shot. Itz amazing when he's in the tourneys, Itz like an inevitable choke hold that he must win or make the final. Since he clearly is taking large chunks of the year off every other year, he & his team know that constant PED use will kill him. So, naturally he can dominate most of the year while on PEDs, take big chunks of the year off the following year to let his body rest from the PEDs. I'm not sure about the silent ban thing b/c ITF wants Nadal to play no matter what. Itz great for business. Nadal & his team usually take time off when they know he can't win cause the PEDs for whatever reason r not effective enough to win a tourney (since we all know how much they hate to lose & bring out the injury excuse when he does) or he just can't be on the PEDs @ that time cause it'll kill him. Even the most loyal Nadal fan has to be questioning his injuries now. Really, right wrist injury practicing @ home in Mallorca. R people really stupid enough to believe this garbage...

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    9. Nacho has done it. Finally a journalist that does his job. By the way, am I the only one that sent an email to the ITF to ask them check Rafa because of this HGH 'confussion'?

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    10. Can someone explain how the chronically-injured knees got better even as he got older and continued the same activity that injured them in the first place????
      So now they're healed, he's got the back (a little pinch @AO..lol) and the wrist (2 weeks will be fine, no?)

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    11. Here we go again......

      Nadal to win 2-3 Slams in 2015.

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    12. "...Even the most loyal Nadal fan has to be questioning his injuries now. Really, right wrist injury practicing @ home in Mallorca. R people really stupid enough to believe this garbage..."

      Trust me, the fanboys would believe it if the Nadal camp announced that death rays from Mars are keeping him from playing. They're not necessarily stupid (I have a friend who's one of the most intelligent people I've ever met who is a true believer), they're just deluded and blinded by affection.

      Back to THASP's original point about why no tennis journalists are taking the Odesnik thing up: It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the ITF has some sort of gag order on the media, "Keep silent on this issue, and if any one of your members crosses the line, you'll never get broadcasting/press privileges again..." It's inconceivable that every single tennis journalist, broadcaster, announcer, etc. is THIS blind to what's going on.

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    13. I agree with Hola that a silent ban doesn't seem like a very likely explanation for all of Nadal's multi-month "injury timeouts". If the ITF is motivated by the almighty dollar, what incentive is there to ban the game's most popular players from Masters tournaments and majors, regardless of whether the ban is ever made public? I just don't see it. Also, has smokin' David Ferrer (who is as suspect as anyone) ever mysteriously disappeared for months at a time? Why would Ferrer be given a pass and not Nadal? Finally, if Nadal has been handed silent bans, why have they never coincided with the clay court season?

      It seems much more likely that Nadal simply can't compete at the highest levels for years on end. He needs serious time off to recover. And, yes, recover could mean a lot of different things depending on what is in his system. He's actually on the record claiming that the ATP calendar contains too many mandatory events (particularly on punishing hard courts), so it wouldn't surprise me at all if he just prefers to set his own calendar, ATP rules and ranking points be damned.

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    14. I just want to chime in and say this has been a very interesting discussion and everyone raises decent, valid points so far.

      This is 2012 all over again - Nadal skips the 2012 USO then dominates 2013. Lather, rinse repeat.

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    15. David Ferrer hasn't won 14 grand slams. Maybe that's why he gets a pass.

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    16. Well, perhaps the injury is true. Perhaps is not a 'dettachment' of the cubital tunnel and it's more a carpal tunnel syndrome caused by too much HGH. And the whole HGH confusion issue was... Something more ominous. Perhaps the injury was true, Nacho's leak forced the ITF to warn Rafa about some testing controls, Rafa couldn't use HGH and therefore couldn't heal on time. Perhaps injury was fake (or wildly exaggerated) with the intention to ask for a TUE. ITF didn't provide the TUE given Nacho's leak and a cornered Rafa had to play along withdrawing from the USO.
      If it's actually true and the non-operative treatment failed (as we have seen), it's possible that Rafa misses more tournaments: http://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6021/cubital-tunnel-syndrome

      But given Rafa's history, the injury may have been either non-existant or inaccurately described (for Rafa's benefit).
      The treatments hinted in articles (indiba machine, injections, HGH, PRP) and the little splint don't help at all to the truthfulness of his injury.

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    17. > David Ferrer hasn't won 14 grand slams. Maybe that's why he gets a pass.

      If that's the criterion, then why didn't they give Cilic or Troicki a pass? I think if these silent bans really occur, Ferrer would be a perfect candidate. If he doesn't show up to a major, it's not going to have much of an impact on viewership, yet he's actually high enough ranked to matter.

      The bottom line is, I have no confidence that the ITF cares about the health of the players nor does it seem to care about punishing players, except for the purpose of making an example out of them (to give its anti-doping "programme" the appearance of legitimacy). If it has been silent banning Nadal all these years, it apparently hasn't been much of a deterrent. He takes a few month off, then comes roaring back to have an incredible season every time. It's much more likely that they want Nadal to play every tournament possible and are legitimately worried when he announces another "career threatening" injury.

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    18. I believe every once in a while they have to make an example of some "name" player just to keep the masses believing they're actually doing something. And don't forget Troicki actually refused a test which was tantamount to admitting guilt. Idiot. He probably would have gotten a slap on the wrist otherwise. I don't really get why Ferrer gets a pass. Maybe he's not quite as blatant as Nadal. I mean even though Ferrer stays in the top ten, it's mostly because he plays a ton of tournaments, certainly not because he's winning a ton of tournaments. Nadal plays fewer and manages to stay in the top 3 consistently.

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    19. > I don't really get why Ferrer gets a pass.

      Unless of course these silent bans are a myth...

      Don't get me wrong, I know that all bans *start out* silent, and I also suspect that if a player manages to get completely exonerated of all charges, perhaps the ban is never publicized. I just don't think they impose silent bans on the most popular players in tennis.

      If the goal of the ITF were to keep the game clean, protect players from damaging themselves, or create a fair and level playing field, all bans would be public. Unfortunately, all evidence suggests that the ITF is really only concerned with maintaining the illusion that tennis is clean and making lots of money.

      So, again, why impose bans on a star player, never tell anyone about it, yet still pay the price in reduced viewership and attendance at important tournaments, particularly when the player is just going to re-offend immediately and beat everyone in sight? I see literally no upside to this.

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    20. It's a fact that Cilic was forced to drop out of Wimbledon, saying he was injured, when really it was a silent ban. So yes silent bans do exist. But Nadal is a much bigger fish. He also has Nike behind him. Why is it so hard to believe they would keep it quiet? But force him to sit out six months as punishment? Does one top player's absence really hurt ticket sales? I don't think so. As long as the other top guys are there they will have full stadiums. But to admit that a top player has won many tournaments while doping would be extremely detrimental to the sport. Then people would wonder if all the players are dirty wouldn't they?

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    21. > Why is it so hard to believe they would keep it quiet?

      I'm not saying it's hard to believe they would keep a ban quiet, I'm saying they wouldn't impose the ban to begin with. If they were banning a top player, it would absolutely be silent.

      > Does one top player's absence really hurt ticket sales?

      I don't have access to the statistics, but I would think they would. I know fans who wouldn't bother watching a tournament if their favorite player weren't in it. Maybe this isn't a perfect comparison, but do you think the Cleveland Caveliers sold the same number of tickets in the years LeBron was in Miami as when he was in Cleveland?

      > But force him to sit out six months as punishment?

      That's really the key to this whole discussion. What is the purpose of this punishment? Why would you punish a player if it (1) won't make you look tough in the eyes of the fans (after all, they don't know about it), (2) apparently doesn't change the player's behavior (and maybe even leads to more success than without the "punishment"), and (3) at least potentially harms TV viewership and ticket sales.

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    22. First of all I think ticket sales to slams are done far in advance. And as far as any seats still available, I don't think Nadal's absence will hurt ticket sales but it might help them. ;)

      Secondly maybe the authorities hope a silent ban will force a player to change their ways or maybe it IS just a punishment. Of course it hurts the player because they can't play and win tournaments and accumulate more points/prize money. Do you really believe Nadal is injured? After the history this guy has had? Every time he loses big at a slam he disappears with injury for the next 6 months. You don't think that's odd? And it's never during the clay season. How convenient for him.

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    23. > I think ticket sales to slams are done far in advance.

      That's probably a good point (for the Grand Slams at least), but I still think TV ratings are negatively impacted when a fan favorite is not in the mix.

      > maybe it IS just a punishment.

      For what purpose? Who does that benefit?

      > Do you really believe Nadal is injured?

      Not necessarily. Given that his chronic knee condition seems to suddenly be gone, you have to assume that at least some of his injuries are either fabricated or exaggerated to give him an excuse for missing mandatory tournaments. The question is, is he doing this because of a silent ban or because he knows he can't perform at his usual "enhanced" level. His camp is probably smart enough to know that he can't do what he does to his body year round, and who knows, maybe there are certain instances where they fear a crack down. There's also the simple fact that his play is always best after an extended break.

      If there are any bans in the case of Nadal, I think it's completely possible they are self-imposed.

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  8. SnR, thanks for posting this Soundcloud link on twitter. Worth a listen.

    David Epstein talks (very intelligently) about limitations of anti-doping testing. He is especially informative about hGH testing limitations, and low numbers of positives in WADA data, which puzzled me.

    https://soundcloud.com/propublica/podcast-the-pitfalls-of-drug-testing-in-sports

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    1. Thanks for putting the link here as well. I found it interesting. Seems like the dopers have (a pretty comfortable) room to play with. As long as they stay under the (pretty generous) test limits, they are free to dope.

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  9. Shouldn't The Curious Case of Rafa be updated, and why isn't it part of the Recommended Reading? *smiles*

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  10. Abby Hoffman explains the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) anti-doping program. So much good sense, and lots of stuff you would never hear from tennis' anti-doping staff or the ITF........

    "In-completion testing is the tip of the iceberg"
    "If you don't go fishing, you won't catch fish" (re catching big stars)
    "IAAF retests samples (!)
    "15 athletes have been caught based on retesting" (!!)
    "IAAF push WADA when "they put the watermark too low" (!!!)
    "Substantial assistance" sentence mitigation is too liberal (!!!!)
    "Testing for non-performance enhancing recreational drugs should not be our job"
    "longer bans for major offences, as part of the new code, are overdue"

    Also interesting that they are concerned about hGH testing methodologies, and are focusing on, and worried about, the dirty coaches / support staff.

    Interesting some comments on their targeted testing, especially about suspect countries like Kenya and Turkey.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4KRyABhPA#t=34

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  11. You guys have heard? The Rafa's team injury statement makes no sense. There's no 'cubital tunnel' in the wrists.

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    1. That's just semantics, IMO
      The ulnar nerve goes through the cubital tunnel (elbow) and the and carpal tunnel (wrist).

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    2. There's no semantics in medicine. It's a mistranslation, anyway: ulnar (cubital) sheath instead of cubital tunnel.

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    3. Some posts I've read on a forum that are quite interesting (fro m which I got the mistranslation issue):
      It seems 'cubital tunnel' is indeed a mistraslation from the medical statement on Rafa's injury ("desinserciĆ³n de la vaina cubital posterior"). The cubital tunnel is, indeed, in the elbow. The actual translation should be 'ulnar sheath detachment'.

      The 'vaina cubital' term refers to a part of the Carpal tunnel: the 'ulnar sheath (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpal_tunnel)'.

      In general, a tendon sheath is a membrane that surrounds a tendon and allows it to move. Two sets of tendons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexor_digitorum_superficialis) pass through their own common ulnar sheath (http://books.google.com/books?id=NK9TgTaGt6UC&q=ulnar+sheath&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false page 354). The carpal tunnel not only protects these tendons, it also protects the median nerve. So it's safe to assume that the ulnar sheath displacement either damaged some of the flexor digitorum tendons or the median nerve, causing pain, numbness, etc. So, summarizing, he either has an initial carpal tunnel syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpal_tunnel_syndrome) or a flexor tendon injury (http://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6031/flexor-tendon-injuries).

      Just in case this doesn't interest you... A little something can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
      "Accompanying problems can include sweating, pressure on nerves (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome), muscle weakness, excess sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), insulin resistance or even a rare form of type 2 diabetes, and reduced sexual function."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_hormone#Excess
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8287568
      http://www.humatrope.com/pages/growth-hormone-deficiency-in-adults.aspx
      http://www.raysahelian.com/humangrowthhormone.html
      http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/anabolic-steroids/hgh-carpal-tunnel-176856.html

      The info I just shared is based on the assumption that Rafa's doctors were being honest (kind of). But if they're not, the following conditions are consistent with his treatment (splint, rehab and pain relief medication):
      http://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6031/flexor-tendon-injuries
      http://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6028/extensor-tendon-injuries
      http://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6032/intersection-syndrome
      http://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6022/ulnar-tunnel-syndrome
      ... and many others. Treatments usually consist in rest, inmovilization and pain managing. If this doesn't work, surgery is usually required.

      The piece of info that was consistent among all conditions is the minimal time period to see improvement, that is, 4-6 weeks. Rafa's team knew that, given that injury, he wouldn't be able to play in the USO under normal circumstances. That's why that issue about the leaked growth factors (GF) seems to have a LOT of sense[1]. But the legal way to get them is through PRP. Rafa's team has stated repeatedly that PRP helps tendon recovery (although that's false[2], so PRP <> (GF) and GF ~ GH), but if they seem to believe that, who am I to tell them it's not true?
      Very sketchy everything in this case.

      [1]http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363502304002710
      [2]http://doctorskeptic.blogspot.ca/2012/04/prp-platelet-rich-plasma-or-just-profit.html

      Data suggest they knew it since the first medical consult. Either because they provoked it by using too much GH (carpal tunnel syndrome), as a mere accidental injury (4-6 weeks ACTUAL recovery time) or as injury-triggering TUE.

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  12. About a week before Nadal's wrist "injury", he announced to the world, that he was preparing a new serve for the USO.

    "Heading into a new challenge, Nadal posted a picture on his Twitter page, in which he was seen sporting a new serve for the hard-court season"
    From :
    http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/559818/20140722/roger-federer-rafael-nadal-tennis-news.htm#.U_TGFHnjjzD

    Then, a week later, he sustains an injury, that just happens to require "growth hormones", corrected to "growth factors".

    Was the announcement of the "new serve", an "explanation" for what the Nadal's knew was a more powerful serve, due to HGH/IGF1 injections, plus Testosterone patches used in-competition at the USO ?

    If this is true, at the time the announcement of the new serve was made, the Nadal's already knew that Rafa was going to sustain a joint "injury". This would allow him to make the "declaration to use PRP" (you have to justify your desired use of PRP, by letting the ITF know that you sustained an injury that would benefit from this treatment). Of course, he was never going to get PRP, but HGH, or IGF1 injections. The same stuff Dr. Galea gave Tiger Woods.

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    1. If this is all true, it would have been the ITF that TOLD Nadal to stay home.

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  13. No track of that virus on the horizon though...

    http://instagram.com/p/rsZ5AvMTO3/?modal=true

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