ITF Releases More Details In Viktor Troicki “He Said, She Said” Doping Case
by Staff | July 26th, 2013, 10:37 am

A day after handing Viktor Troicki an 18-month suspension for refusing to submit a blood sample in Monte Carlo this year, the ITF this released the full hearing of the case, further backing up their decision.

At issue, the 53rd-ranked Troicki asserts that the doping officer, Dr. Elena Gorodilova, assured him several times that it was okay for him not to give a blood sample on April 15. Gorodilova countered saying she made no such inference to Troicki, and the tribunal sided in her favor yesterday.

In a detailed 25-page report made public this morning, Troicki told the tribunal on July 9 in London that since childhood he’s been wary of needles, a condition that makes giving blood very arduous, although he’s submitted blood before without issue.

Prior to and since the events in question, Mr Troicki has had an unblemished drugs testing history. He has given numerous urine samples over the years (he thought around 80) and blood samples on five occasions.
There was clear and convincing evidence that Mr Troicki has suffered since childhood from a phobia of needles (a condition that he had inherited from
his father). In consequence, the giving of blood is something that he faces with trepidation and that induces feelings of panic. He gave evidence that he
fainted while giving blood seven years ago and that he feels unwell for the rest of the day after he has given a blood sample. The statement from
Professor Djukic records that Mr Troicki reported dizziness with vertigo, nausea and chest pain following the taking of blood samples from him in 2007.

Troicki added that he didn’t feel well that day in Monte Carlo. He had just lost to Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-2, a player he had beaten twice before.

Mr Troicki’s explanation for his defeat and for the manner of it was that he had felt dizzy that morning, a feeling which had got worse during the match. Mr Reader (Mr Troicki’s coach) gave evidence that Mr Troicki had described himself as “not feeling well” and “flat” at the end of his pre-match warm up.

Troicki agreed to giving the urine sample, but based on his history with needles and his ill health that day, he requested to not have to submit to the blood test.

According to Troicki, Gorodilova who agreed that Troicki “did not look well; he looked tired and weak”, told him it was okay for him not to take the test, and suggested a letter to the ITF doping head, Dr. Stuart Miller, would help his cause.

In that letter, Troicki wrote:

I was not able to do the blood test today since I was feeling very bad …for the blood test I asked kindly to skip it this time, since I get very dizzy after giving the blood out so even before the test I didn’t feel good, so I felt it would be even worse for my health condition to do it
today. I always did blood tests before, and I do them in the future, but today I was not provide blood sample. Thank you very much in advance for your understanding

Troicki also tried to call Dr. Miller, but those attempts were unsuccessful. He then left the doping station and passed by the ATP office where he enganged a conversation with tour manager Miro Bratoev who questioned Troicki’s assurance that it was okay for him not to take the test. Troicki told him:

I told her that I am feeling dizzy and asked her 5 times if it is OK not to do the blood test and she said it will not be a problem since I am not feeling well. All I needed to do is write an explanation she dictated me. We also tried to call Stuart Miller but something was wrong with the number she gave me.

Meanwhile, Gorodilova was filing her own report to her supervisor, writing:

…he informed us that he was unable to provide the blood sample today due to his health conditions. We said that he must have the blood test. He said that he feels very bad today and could not provide the blood sample, we advised him to contact dr S Miller. We have only fax number, he tried several times, it was not working. We asked to write and explain why he can not provide the blood sample. He signed the BCF and wrote on the separated sheet of paper why he is unable to provide the blood sample….

The next day, April 16, Gorodilova was at the tournament seeking further information. Specifically, she wanted to know if Troicki had sought out treatment for whatever illness was ailing him on the day of the test (the tournament doctor never treated Troicki for any issue). When she met Troicki, he explained that he felt better, and while he did not have any medical certificate of treatment – be it at the tournament or a hospital, which Gorodilova said would have helped his case – he was willing to now submit to the blood test, which he did.

That’s the story. Those were the events.

So did Gorodilova tell Troicki that it was okay for him to skip the test as he contends? The tribunal wasn’t convinced.

Dr Gorodilova was clear in her evidence to us: her response was that this was not a matter upon which she could advise the player …
Whether or not Mr Troicki’s reason for not giving a sample would be regarded as valid by the ITF was not her decision; the ITF would decide this. It was in this context, she told us, that she suggested that Mr Troicki write to the ITF explaining his reasons for not giving blood. He had made a decision that he would not provide a sample; he needed to explain to the ITF why that was so.
Mr Troicki denies that this was Dr Gorodilova’s response to his question. On the contrary, he was adamant in his evidence to us that Dr Gorodilova had
assured him “100%” on four or even five occasions that if he set out his reasons in a letter to the ITF, all would be well. This was in the context of his
having stated to the DCO that he did not want to suffer any sanctions as a result of not giving blood. Dr Gorodilova denies that she gave Mr Troicki any
such assurance.

There were three witness brought forth in the case: a doping assistant, Mr. Gan, called by the ITF; and, Troicki’s coach Jack Reader and the ATP manager Bratoev both called by Troicki. Because the doping assistant wasn’t proficient in English, Gan’s account of the events was given little weight – he couldn’t fully understand the conversations between Gordilova and Troicki.

Reader, who arrived to the scene only when Troicki was writing the letter, had this in support of his player:

In his oral evidence, Mr Reader also stated that he thought at the time that Mr Troicki’s request to speak to Dr Miller was because
“something was not quite sitting with [Mr Troicki]…he was not quite sure, not convinced that everything was going to be ok”. He also made clear that
he had not been present when Mr Troicki had asked Dr Gorodilova whether he could avoid giving blood on that occasion, or when she had given her response.

The tribunal pointed out that Reader did not back up Troicki’s “100%” assurance. They also weren’t “impressed” overall by Reader on the matter.

Troicki’s next witness was Bratoev who recounted the events backing what Troicki had said.

The tribunal then heard from the two primary parties involved.

Gorodilova was a 15-year veteran of anti-doping work in sport and the tribunal found that “As such she is well aware of her responsibilities and the limits of her powers. In particular, she was well aware on 15 April 2013 that it was indeed not her decision (but rather that of the ITF) whether it was open to Mr Troicki to avoid giving blood on that day or whether that avoidance would result in sanctions for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.”

The tribunal determined she had followed the guidelines and adhered to the rule:

In fact, there is no valid excuse for a DCO not to proceed and collect a sample from the athlete once the athlete has been notified. If an athlete refuses to provide a sample according to the procedures, it is up to the athlete’s international Federation to investigate this as a possible failure to comply…

Troicki then was up, but the tribunal questioned if his account of the events “was in fact accurate. It is very frequently the case that witnesses have persuaded themselves of the truth of what they purport to recall, despite the fact that the truth in reality lies elsewhere.”

Having all the evidence, the tribunal sided with Gorodilova’s statements.

a. She informed Mr Troicki that she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not giving blood was a valid reason, as it was not her
decision, but would be a matter for the ITF to decide.
b. She did not assure Mr Troicki that, if he wrote his reasons in a letter to the ITF, all would be well.

The tribunal also added that Gorodilova never wrote that she had given any assurances to Troicki in any of her correspondences with superiors those two days. And had she given such assurances, why would it be helpful for her to have told Troicki the next day to submit to a sample? If it was 100% certain, as Troicki alleged, for him not to give a sample, then why give one the next day?

When examining Troicki’s defense, the Tribunal found inconsistencies. In particular a letter to the ITF four days later in which Troicki seemed to contradict his “100%” assurance claim:

she had merely stated that “it should be all right” if he wrote as suggested to the ITF. That statement also included the words “I wanted to be 100% sure”. Moreover, as Mr Troicki accepted in evidence before us, he had appreciated at the time that Dr Miller was the one who had to make the decision – i.e. to decide whether Mr Troicki’s conduct and his explanation for that conduct would or would not be regarded as acceptable.

The tribunal again wondered if Troicki was given such “100%” assurance, why was there uncertainty in Troicki’s letter to the ITF?

As for why Troicki had told the ATP manager that it was okay for him not to take the test, a conversation confirmed by Bratoev, the tribunal concluded that Troicki, feeling the effects of whatever was ailing him that day and faced with the prospect of giving blood, misunderstood Gorodilova’s encouragement to write the letter as assurance that all would be well.

the player was feeling ill and dizzy, he was panicked by the thought of giving blood because of his fear of needles and because of the likely adverse physical consequences for him, were the test to go ahead (in particular because he was already feeling unwell). At the same time, he was also well aware of the relevant AntiDoping Rules and needing to ensure that he did not incur any sanction as a result of not giving the required sample. In that highly stressful situation for him, and with his mental faculties impaired by his physical condition, Mr Troicki heard what he felt he needed to hear from Dr Gorodoliva and blanked out anything else.

The tribunal also stated that “Mr Troicki came across to us as someone prone to exaggeration in order to make his point”. Might they have been referring to Troicki’s infamous tirade in Rome?

In their final decision, the tribunal was unable to find “compelling justification” for Troicki’s failure to comply to the blood test.

We find that Mr Troicki both failed and refused to submit to giving blood on 15 April 2013, having been duly notified of his obligation to do so. His failure to give blood is obvious, given that it did not occur. However, we consider that Mr Troicki also by his conduct and his actions evidenced a refusal to give blood as well. Dr Gorodilova was adamant in her evidence that she took the steps that she did (starting with the request for a letter of explanation) because Mr Troicki had made it clear that his mind was made up – he was not prepared to give blood despite her efforts to encourage him to do so.

Player who do not submit to testing are giving two year bans. Taking the circumstances of this situation into account, the tribunal lessened Troicki’s sentence by six months because, they determined, Troicki was not guilty of “Significant Fault or Negligence”.

Troicki, who said both tests (urine and blood) came back negatavie will appeal. And in an emotional statement on his website, Troicki said:

Now I am being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare. I was 100% sure everything was ok, just like my coach Jack Reader who was in the doping control station room with me during at least half of the procedure.

The doping control officer doing the controls was a doctor herself. I asked her and she showed me all her diplomas. She checked me and told me I could skip the test and dictated me the explanation for it. After I left the doping control station I went straight to bed and slept all afternoon. I didn’t see any reason to worry so I didn’t look for any help.

I am destroyed and exhausted. The whole period I have been thinking only about this issue. And it is not over yet, so I can’t really describe it. I am not even angry with the doctor. I believe that maybe she was told by her organization that she made a big mistake letting me go she backed up and tried to save her job.

[Novak Djokovic] said that he is sure it will end good because I am innocent, and that ATP should really back me up with this.

I feel like I am being treated like a criminal and I have not committed anything at all. I have a fear of the needle and I always have troubles drawing blood. But I always did. I am clean and will always be clean throughout my career. I just had the wrong doctor who didn’t tell me at all that I was risking anything. She showed me a letter of the ITF saying she is in charge of the decisions and I trusted her completely. I wish I had recorded the discussion, there would have never been a case if I did.

I am 100% sure that the court of arbitration in Lausanne will consider my good faith and my total innocence. But now, this enormous sanction makes me speechless. It feels like the world that I help building day by day has let me down. It is the worst feeling you can imagine.

You Might Like:
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Viktor Troicki Victorious In First Match Back From Doping Suspension
Viktor Troicki: “I’ve Been Treated Like A Criminal” [Video]
Was Marin Cilic Found In Violation Of The Tennis Anti-Doping Rules?
Roger Federer On Maria Sharapova’s Doping Ban: Zero Tolerance!

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47 Comments for ITF Releases More Details In Viktor Troicki “He Said, She Said” Doping Case

Ty Says:

This is the tip of a very rotten iceberg. In what other sport can one of the competitors ask “oh please can I not give my sample today. My tummy hurts.”

Sean Randall Says:

Victor is in the wrong. Unless he can provide some sort of overwhelming reason for not taking the test, which he didn’t (I feel sick is not a valid excuse), he has to take the test.

If you decide not to take it’s really an admission of guilt, isn’t it?

That said, an 18 month sentence is bit harsh. If I had to guess I’ll predict after he appeals he’ll get it reduced to 9 months or maybe just 6.

Ty Says:

The ITF/ATP/WADA/whomever has been feeling the aggregate heat wafting off of the MLB, NFL, cycling, and other sports cracking down on their respective PED problems. They respond by giving poor ol’ Victor a draconian sentence to show “tennis is a clean sport after all”. The guy was 50 in the world and slipping hard for the best two years. But the smokescreen ban will shut some people up, and the top ten can go on playing superhero five hour + tennis and raking in all the $$$$$.


Perhaps I’m reaching.

Ty Says:

*best should be last. Damnit, life is made for editing.

Sean Randall Says:

Ty, it does put the tennis testing program in better light, but it wasn’t a setup per se.

Troicki admitted to not submitting to the test and the rule is in place and has been in place: if you don’t submit a sample you are suspended for 2 years.

So this is not something the tennis powers just made up on the fly to make the sport look cleaner. This is a player failing to follow the code.

Ty Says:

Serbia does appear a good place to start wondering about, in regards to PEDs.

Djokovic with his ‘zen diet’ and miraculous transformation – “it was gluten I tell ya, that’s why I could not play for five hours one day, five hours the next, and NEVER GET TIRED.”

Troicki – see above

Tipsaravic – After hanging around the 50s, 60s in the world, inexplicably rises to the top ten on the heels of his countryman Djoko; perhaps trying himself some of the miraculous training techniques Nole was able to find.

Damn, I’m feeling cynical today. But it never hurt to wonder. I HOPE that this is all BS; it is! I just calls em like I sees em.

Humble Rafa Says:

I am afraid of cats and needles. But I still give samples.


Ty Says:


Your first sentence spells out what my ramble tried to.

I suppose that’s why you are the writer.

I’ve been hanging around THASP too much lately. Those jokers over there are as cynical as they come.

RZ Says:

HR, you are brave. You still eat bananas even though they have almost derailed you in the past. :-)

Giles Says:

Bananas = potassium- power!

RSP Says:

I do think its harsh on Troicki.
Sean: You say “the rule is in place and has been in place…” . If it was really such a stringent absolutely-no-exceptions rule, then shouldnt it have been the duty of the dope inspector to have at least warned him about the consequences? The fact that she dictated the letter clearly suggests that she at least encouraged him to believe that there would be no penalty, even if there may be doubt about whether she gave a ‘complete assurance’ or not.
Incidentally (I really dont have an idea about this), if he did give the blood test the following day, wont the fact whether he doped or not be established anyway?

Kimberly Says:

I think its harsh. I think victor is a dumb-ss not a cheater.

the DA Says:

Oh boy, now there are reports that Marin Cilic failed a dope test (and was the reason he withdrew from Wimbledon):

(needs google -translate).

It’s getting freaky right now. Who next?

the DA Says:

Further translation help from a Croat (helping out a L’Equipe journalist) reveal that this happened in Munich. Apparently someone on hi steam bought something from a pharmacy which he took and traces of glucose were found in his test. Looks like another case of stupidity rather than something serious.

Because the traces were so low he received a 3 month ban and hopes to play Montreal.

Wog boy Says:

Viktor needs good barrister to represent him in Laussane. There is more than enough material for a good case, by reading ITF statment, for a good barrister. He can afford one, somebody tell him before it is to late. His Aussie coach can suggest him some good Aussie barristers. No hope if he is going to represent himself.

the DA,

That link (forum) sounds very sensationalistic (if you are familiar with Croatian language) but you never know.

Anna Says:

If Viktor has this level of anxiety to needles then he seriously needs to undergo some therapy, because as a professional tennis player, the needles are not going to go away. Viktor knows this so I’m curious as to why no preemptive strike as to how to handle this type of situation. I imagine his anxiety overtook his ability to reason.

the DA Says:

@Wog boy – I’m not at all familiar with the language but the translator said the story originated in a very reputable Croatian newspaper. The translator translated the story for the Changeover website and they’ve just posted it up:

the DA Says:

Basically the crux of these two stories is that players need to ensure that their support teams are fully informed about doping regulations and which products might contain banned substances. It seems both players were let down by their teams (Jack Reader did not come off well in the ITF tribunal – he seemed clueless about the rules). The ITF doesn’t look too rosy after these two cases either.

Fortunately these incidents don’t appear to be anything on the scale of the cycling or athletics cases. For now anyway.

Wog boy Says:

In original link that you posted from “24sata”, not really reputable, it says that “they found traces of unknown substance”. If it is unknown how they can charge him?
Until we hear from ITF or Cilic himself I don’t trust local newspapers, I know them very well.

Wog boy Says:

for the DA,

You are right about Jack Reader, he should know better.

the DA Says:

@Wog boy – the original report came from The translator described it as a reliable source.

ted echols Says:

French l’Equipe says that the ITF may have covered-up Cilic failed doping test

Kimberly Says:

I take natural boosters, aloe vera juice, bee pollen, coconut water, green tea and aspirin. Some of the banned substances seem really benign if you look at the list yes. And frankly, if a tennis player wants to smoke a joint on his or her downtime, I don’t really think its any of our business. Its not going to help their performance for sure, but if they want to light up and go see a concert should be their right IMO.

the DA Says:

I’m willing to give Cilic the benefit of the doubt IF it was indeed a product with a banned substance that a team member unwittingly purchased for him. I’m just wondering what would kind of fallout there would’ve been if he’d won Queens. There might be a disgruntled player or two. If the positive result had been discovered at Munich why was he allowed to play up until Wimbledon?

The ITF need to get their act together.

Ben Pronin Says:

Anyone else find it disturbing that in an 8 year career, Troicki has only had 5 blood tests? Really? And we’re supposed to believe this is a stringent system?

the DA Says:

^ Yes, that’s astonishing. Hopefully this purported new bio passport system will change that.

Anna Says:

I’d like to know why all information related to testing isn’t made known to the public. Who gets tested when and what the results were. Are the top 10 players being tested more often than others, or do they test across the board. Why all the secrecy? I think holding back this information does more harm than good.

Kimberly Says:

I find it extremely bothersome that someone can train every day as a little boy for hours and hours, devote their whole life to something, and poof, its gone, without really any proof of wrongdoing.

Wog boy Says:

I guess the answer is simple:

Wog boy Says:

This was for Anna

Peter Hermann Says:

All sports organisations hold back any info about positive tests until the case is watertight. They don’t run to the media screaming DOPING as fans do. They have a lot of responsibility after all, and there is such a thing as a ‘false positive’. So, instead of ruining someones reputation who is probably innocent, they only tell the athlet in question to stay at home until the case is cleared.
So this sort of ‘silent suspension’ is there for good reasons. It also takes a while to get the results from the tests and if one sample comes back as positive, there is always a b-sample that has to be examined with extra care, and this all takes some time. If both samples are proven to be positive, the athlet will be informed and in Cilics case, he was informed during Wimbledon.
Obviously the investigation is still ongoing and the ITF will not make anything public yet. Cilic talked to the media, that was his decision. The ITF have their protocol to follow, and its the same for every player.

skeezer Says:


from the link…

“Federer, while not disagreeing,….”


Anna Says:

If their isn’t consistency in testing, and the results aren’t made available to the public then as far as I’m concerned tennis may as well be wwe
wrestling where anything goes.

Peter – It sounds that Marin was not banned in any way (a silent ban) until they were able to make it public, as he played up until Wimbledon. Can you tell me what athlete it is your citing when you refer to a silent ban, because I’ve yet to hear an actual name.

Sean Randall Says:

There’s no cover up per se by the ITF or a “silent bad”. I believe once a player is notified of a failed test he/she can choose to sit out of competition from that point forward until the case is cleared.

By doing so once a suspension is handed out his time missed goes toward the sentencing term.

Of course if he’s cleared then he missed that time without recourse and often without any publicity.

I guess it’s a gamble. If you know you are going down there’s really no point playing, is there?

Sean Randall Says:

RSP, if you are asked to take the test that day, you have to take it. The results of taking the test the next day like Troicki are somewhat immaterial because he could have rid himself of those PEDs.

Again, it’s meant to be random. If I tell you I’ll test you tomorrow that’s no longer random as it gives you the player time to prepare/clean your sample.

Thomas Says:

Apparently tennis players have been linked to the biogenesis scandal. Hence we may be hearing of many more players doping..

skeezer Says:

I read that also. About time Tennis gets investigated like the rest. Have always been suspect of ITF methods in Tennis and ATP with this stuff. Question is this, why does it take other sports PED places to exploit the tennis scene(players from MLB, NFL, etc). More to come….

the DA Says:

^ It might take some time for those Biogenesis names to be revealed (if ever). The whistleblower had a rough time after the MLB scandal and is wary of what NBA athletes/fans would do. It’s all in this piece:

the DA Says:

Here’s another good piece about both Cilic and Biogenesis:

The writer brings up a good point about the alleged dextrose (glucose) supplement. It’s basically sugar so wouldn’t in itself lead to a positive result.

As for the Biogenesis scandal the only tennis player implicated so far is Wayne Odesnik (surprise surprise).

Giles Says:
Here’s Bodo’s take on the Troicki case.

the DA Says:

@Margot – haha, thanks. Nobody does hype like the British media. The bit about Froome and Murray was funny. How have you been? Did you, like me, wake several times the following week after Wimbledon saying “OMG he really did win it”? ;)

the DA Says:

Whoa! So this story from CNN today reinforces the notion that you can unwittingly buy over the counter products containing banned substances from a pharmacy:

“FDA warns one brand of vitamin B supplement contains dangerous steroids”

Just when they worked out which cold medicines to avoid.

Thomas Says:

So I guess the moral of the troicki and cilic affairs is that it is way smarter to fail drug tests than to skip drug tests? Ok.

Margot Says:

@ the DA
Glad u enjoyed :) Not surprised Steel got Andy in there somewhere, he’s a huge fan. Still pinching myself tbh, and this time last year it was all about to start. Who’d a guessed it?

Tennis x hippy chic Says:

Margot and The DA when Andy won Wimbledon,i asked my husband to remind me the following day,so i knew that it wasnt a dream LOL.

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