Poll: Is There A Drug Problem In Tennis? The Case For And The Case Against

by Staff | July 28th, 2013, 2:16 pm

It’s the topic of the week, not just in tennis but in all of sports. But is the drug problem now spreading into tennis? After the Viktor Troicki suspension and allegations that Marin Cilic has also tested positive plus the Miami clinic report this past week, attention to PEDs in tennis is getting more traction.

Given the advancement in medicines, regardless of penalty dopers will to continue to exist in every sport in which there’s big money to be made. There will almost always be those players willing to take that risk. But in tennis is doping really that much of a problem or even an issue?

The case for:
* Lack of funding $$$ means fewer, maybe inadequate, amounts of testing during tennis season and little blood screening.

* Use of PEDs applicable in tennis: could increase endurance, quicken recovery, add speed/power, ability to train longer, etc.

* Lots of diversity in locker room with players from all over the world, many from poorer countries, all looking for that “edge”. Who isn’t in pro sports?

* Cheaters are always ahead of the testers. Newfangled drugs like HGH are tougher, more expensive to test for and new, some undetectable drugs hit the market all the time.

* Possible cover-ups by tours: a star testing positive would have a massive negative impact on the sport. (Agassi meth case)

* For lower ranked players the money isn’t great and tennis pros don’t have a long playing career anyway making doping that much more inciting. And with money increasing at the top only adds to the reward.

* Among other matches, the 2012 Australian Open final, a near 6-hour marathon won by Djokovic over Nadal left some viewers with at the least the thought at one point during the match.

* Players in just about every other sport are doing it, must be true in tennis as well!

The case against:
* Where are the positive results? Few top 100 players have ever tested positive; Puerta, Gasquet, Hingis, Strycova recently. (Troicki never tested positive)

* Players are tested randomly both in competition and out of competition during the season. According to ITF data, not including the Olympics Novak Djokovic was tested 7+ times during events and 1-3 times more out of competition in 2012. Nadal, who missed the last half of the year, was tested 1-3 times at tournaments and 7+ times out of competition.

* Significant deterrents are in place. Unlike team spots, tennis players can’t hide or maintain their playing contracts upon return from a ban. Tennis players lose points, prize and rankings making it extremely difficult to regain their position in the sport.

* For many a 1-year ban in tennis, which is a first offense, would be a death sentence in the sport.

* Given the one-on-one nature of tennis, players could easily and anonymously rat an opponent out to the media if there’s suspected doping going on, but we never hear of it unlike cycling where many accusations fly from competitors within the sport.

* Olympic results last year mirrored normal tour results; doubtful IOC would aid in any “cover up” conspiracy. And unlike other individual sports such as track, weightlifting, cycling, boxing, skiing and wrestling, no tennis player has ever tested positive for PEDs at the Olympics.

* Top players have been outspoken in their support for better testing, use of blood passports, etc.

* For the average or even many players, the added endurance/fitness/strength that PED usage may provide isn’t going to take a player to that next level and so it may not be worth the risk. PEDs won’t directly help with touch, technique, shot placement, mental abilities and footwork, all assets needed to be a great player.

* Marathon matches aren’t something new to tennis, they’ve been played for many years and won by many players without suspicion. Were Becker, Lendl, McEnroe, Lendl, Edberg, Sampras, etc also doping since they too have been involved in and won marathon matches?

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114 Comments for Poll: Is There A Drug Problem In Tennis? The Case For And The Case Against

Ben Pronin Says:

“For the average or even many players, the added endurance/fitness/strength that PED usage may provide isn’t going to take a player to that next level and so it may not be worth the risk.”

I can’t believe this is a case for against. Really? Didn’t Lendl just recently say that Dimitrov would be number 1 if he was as fit as the top guys?

“Were Becker, Lendl, McEnroe, Lendl, Edberg, Sampras, etc also doping since they too have been involved in and won marathon matches?”

This isn’t an argument against. Baseball players broke home run records before PEDs, too. All we hear about from the media is how physical these guys are, how strong they are, how hard they train. They’re all beasts. When run-of-the-mill players go against the top guys they know they have to win fast because otherwise they’ll be worn out, etc. What is with this selective argument nonsense?

You know what PEDs help with? They help these guys train hard, they help them get fit. Everyone can hit a great forehand, backhand, etc, nowadays. But hittings it as hard in the fifth set as you did in the first set requires great stamina/fitness/endurance. How do you get there? You train hard. You know what helps you train harder, be stronger, get there faster? PEDs.

holdserve Says:

Ben Pronin
The writer clarifies what he means by taking to next level
“PEDs won’t directly help with touch, technique, shot placement, mental abilities and footwork, all assets needed to be a great player.”
If Dimitrov or some player already has all the weapons but lacks fitness, he will be helped by anything which improves his fitness.
“Everyone can hit a great forehand, backhand, etc, nowadays” Really? Surely this is not borne out by facts. Let me know on which planet this is true.
Secondly, you need to know when to make which shots, employ the right pace, angle, spin, placement etc. No use just hitting hard.Have the right footwork, good movement, great strategy,good intuition etc. Even the great Serena is sometimes handicapped by bad footwork. Great shots, strategies, footwork etc require talent plus hard work, you can’t get it by using PEDs. According to scientific studies, in any field whether science, art or sports,the secret of great performance is 99% hard work and dedication and 1% talent.No short cut to greatness. Period.

holdserve Says:

The tour seems to be targeting Rafa. He was tested 7+ times out of competition last year! Apparently, Federer had no out of competition tests last year and had no blood tests. Djokovic seems to have been tested adequately . At least there doesn’t seem to be any positive or negative bias against him.
No wonder Rafa wanted it to be made public about how many times each player is tested. That will force ITF to administer same number of tests to all the top players instead of leaving out some of them.
Why are some of them not tested adequately? Is the tour afraid of what it might find?

Skeezer Says:

You can get better movement, stamina, fatique less, hit stronger and longer. Its got many advantages(PED’s). Just ask the players who have been busted by it. Also, what PEDs are you taking? Steriods/HGH or blood doping schemes? Each has its different adanatages towards performance/recovery/healing.

holdserve Says:

Or is the tour too much in awe of certain players to wake them up early in the morning for a blood and urine test?

mem Says:

i read (see link below)that when djokovic commented on the armstrong scandal he also pointed out that he himself had not been tested in 6 or 7 months and he was competing regularly. i thought that was pretty interesting considering that nadal was tested 7 or 8 times out of competition. now you say that data indicates that novak was tested 7+ times during competition. im probably missing something! maybe my dates are wrong. who knows what to believe anymore!


Ben Pronin Says:

Holdserve, PEDs would help the 99% hard work part, so thanks for clarifying.

In the beginning of his career, Nadal was mostly just a defensive player. His stamina carried him through a lot of long matches where he let his opponent decide what the right angle to hit was while he just looped it back and waited. His fitness allowed him to get away with it.

I don’t think the tour is targeting Nadal here. He was out for half of the year. He had very little in competition testing so they gave him more out of competition since he was out for so long. It makes sense. But none of them were adequately tested by any means. They should always have a lot of out of competition tests. I also don’t really get what this “1-3” nonsense is. Did Djokovic get 1 test ooc or 3? Or 2? Why the vague 1-3?

And even if they are targeting someone, maybe they have reason to. What’s wrong with pursuing something if you think there’s a chance something will show up? If only we knew WHY though. We have no idea. It’s all speculation. For all we know, these numbers are made up. Federer said he’s been tested less and less over the years. The numbers show it. He doesn’t even know why.

Ben Pronin Says:

Mem, I remember that, too. See, this is exactly what I’m saying. We see these numbers the ITF posts but then we hear Djokovic say he hasn’t been tested in months. Did nothing show up for half the year so they decided “screw it, he’s clean enough”? I mean it’s really unbelievable. Absolute joke.

holdserve Says:

skeezer, I know that different drugs have different uses.The muscle building steroids are for strength, HGH is for faster recovery and anti aging so could help with speed and reflexes, blood doping with endurance.
But no matter what PED you take it is not going to teach you how to hit better shots or improve your footwork. Or teach you better strategies or help you with mental strength or emotional maturity.
For two athletes who are equal, PEDs may give the one doping an advantage. But it cannot make up for lack of talent or hard work or mental or emotional strength.

Ben Pronin Says:

Holdserve, PEDs aren’t magic, the whole point is to help you work harder.

When you’re supremely fit and especially know you’re more fit than your opponent, that gives you more confidence which equals mental and even emotional strength. I can only guess you don’t play sports because knowing how fit you are goes a long way in being able to keep your composure during tough times in matches/games in any sport.

Colin Says:

Hingis is listed as one of those who was caught, but wasn’t she banned for taking cocaine? Since when has that been a PED?

Sean Randall Says:

mem, Novak is referring to blood testing. And I believe the ITF released ranges (1-3, 7+) instead of giving the exact number to keep things random and uncertain. Just a guess.

Ben, since you call the tennis doping procedures a “joke”, you must base that on a model sport, right? What is that sport that does it right?

Also, just being fit doesn’t translate into success on the pro tour. It helps but a lot more goes into it as I’m sure you know.

I’m watching Isner-Anderson right now and no amount of PEDs are going to make Isner’s backhand a weapon!

Ben Pronin Says:

Why do I have to base it on a model sport (which doesn’t exist). If we’re just going to say everything is relative, then the ITF is doing a damn great job and there’s obviously no one doping in tennis.

Except there are players doping. We know this for a fact because at least a few guys have been caught. But one of the most notable guys caught in recent years was Wayne Odesnik, and he never tested positive, he was caught by local authorities. We know that we want the system to strive towards one where it is nearly impossible to dope and get away with it. But that’s not what we have. We also should have a system that’s transparent, but that’s not what we have. If you have a bunch of cereal murders except for one guy who only murdered one person, does that mean we say that he’s a great guy because he killed less than everyone?

That doesn’t mean Isner isn’t taking stuff to make sure he has the stamina to maximize the weapons he does have.

This match is so ugly, though.

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, ok then, since there is no model sport, what kind of system should be in place?

How many times should players be tested?

And I agree, there will always be dopers, not just in tennis but in every sport. There is no test that works 100% of the time and I doubt there ever will be.

holdserve Says:

Ben just like your first post which was supposed to counter the writer’s point but did not, so also your current post.
You have made wrong assumptions/guesses.
In this post you write
“I can only guess you don’t play sports because knowing how fit you are goes a long way in being able to keep your composure during tough times in matches/games in any sport.”
Wrong guess!!!
I do a lot of sports and so does my family. My Dad, my uncle and several cousins were/are state players in tennis and one was seriously pursuing a professional career in football but left because of a career ending injury.
your above post only proves Peds could add to confidence that one has probably more endurance than the other guy assuming both work equally hard.
It does not add to emotional maturity or mental strength or improve technique.
Peds only add to physical factors. Indirectly it may add to confidence but not to mental strength in crunch situations or improve technique or strategy or the “tennis” brain.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’ve made my point 100s of times here over the last few years. If you wanna single out players and ignore red flags and what have you, then it’s on you. Just don’t act “betrayed” if there’s ever a huge bust in tennis.

Just keep in mind everyone said the same crap back in the 90s about baseball. There’s not point, the system, this, that. And it turns out that was a golden age for doping. Tennis isn’t special.

mem Says:


that’s my point! you hear one thing from the player; then lo and behold data indicates the opposite and we are just suppose to accept it without question. if every player (and that includes the top four) was held to the same standards/accountability, regardless of the consequences, i think fans in general would have more faith in the system. further, i agree with nadal when he said that it would be a good idea to provide some transparancy by publicizing the names of players who are tested and the frequency of testing. that way, fans would at least have access to certain data and that would reduce speculations about certain players. needless to say, it won’t solve the problem completely because there will always be some fans who hate certain players and will always seek to falsely accuse and slander; nonetheless, i think making the consequences for violating antidoping rules tougher and providing transparancy are just a couple of things that would send a powerful message and would definitely make a difference.

rick Says:

a young man getting into his mid 20’s is getting into his absolute peak body performance. some of you people act surprised that someone is stronger now than he was when he was 19 or 20. by their mid 20’s they have grown into their bodies and are reaching their peak.

and again i will point out that you people who make the claim that any tennis player who can play 5 sets of tennis and return the next day are basically saying that every single person who is a special forces soldier MUST be suspected of drug use. after all, they go through more than any athlete can possibly imagine. doesn’t seem to matter to you that they are peak fitness and determined to succeed. no, drugs must be involved somewhere.


Ben Pronin Says:

Rick, that explains Djokovic. But what about all these guys 30 and older playing the best tennis of their lives?

Is it impossible that special forces soldiers are giving some sort of PEDs? They don’t necessarily have to be illegal.

holdserve Says:

By the way, I am not saying nobody is doping in tennis. With the ridiculously inadequate testing frequency by ITF, little or no blood tests, NO, yes, NO tests for HGH, inadequate tests for blood doping, and the top players having huge amount of money and access to best medical advice, we cannot rule out doping by the players.
In fact as per game theory, according to my young cousin ( game theory as applied to prisoners’ dilemma), all the top players must be doping.
In fact I found an article ( can’t lay my hands on it now) quoted by one poster on tennis.com which also talks about game theory and prisoners’ dilemma and how logically it leads to the optimum solution that all the top players are doping.

mem Says:

thanks sean!

i agree that no amount of peds can create talent and skill where there is none, and i understand that completely. but, sometimes a player has the talent and skill, he has the ambition and a determination do whatever it takes to get him where he wants to go, but is lacking the fitness/endurance/stamina needed to get him there. this is situation where peds might be considered. im not pointing to any particular player, but to players in general. this is my rationale behind why some players may choose to use peds. my point is, peds can give the player who already possesses a good forehand or backhand, or a pretty good game overall the confidence and attitude needed to compete consistently and successfully at a high level because he now knows that he can rely on his endurance/stamina to last for hours and to recover quick enough between matches to increase his chances of winning; whereas, without peds that same player knows that his chances of winning would be less.

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, so what you are saying is this:

a) All sports are littered with dopers
b) If it looks to good to be true, then it probably is. So by that measure and by a), then:
Messi must be doping – he makes incredible plays no one else can!
Lebron is doping – his abilities and physique are off the charts
Bolt has to be doping – heck, even the dopers can’t catch him!
Phelps must be doping – dominating a sport like that!

See where I’m going with this? There is no end.

I’m just glad I don’t watch sports through your eyes. Call me gullible, but until proven guilty I believe what I’m seeing is real.

rick Says:

ben, your peak starts in mid 20’s. the game has become so physical it makes perfect sense that the mid to late 20’s would be dominant. lendl is a perfect example. the man put in the hard miles and was awesome between 25/30.

31, 32, 33 is not that far off the mark that it should raise flags. and you have people who just make it easier. i just watched hass play a practice set with nishikori here in washington (citi open) and hass is so much smoother than nishikori that it makes sense his body is holding up. you watch him up close and the effort put out between the two is apparent.

look at the all the iron men and the age of some of these people. i suppose they are all under suspicion as well.

that doesn’t mean there aren’t cheaters. but this nonsense of putting everyone under the same umbrella because they’re fit is just that, nonsense. and the 5 set back to back days is just ridiculous. these are world class athletes.

here in washington we have oppressively hot and humid days. i’m 64 years old and play singles tennis between 2 to 3 hours 4 days a week (4.5 level). i also commute by bike 80 miles a week (10 miles each way, 4 day week). i’m no where near a world class athlete and i don’t find this that hard to do. i could probably slip in another day of singles. to look at a 25/30 year old playing 10+ hours of tennis over a 3 day period is just not that unbelievable.

as for ped’s? why sure, anything is possible. but why go there? are we so determined that our athletes are cheating that we have to point out what is possible? what they could maybe might be doing?

Dan Martin Says:

I’d like to see blood and urine tests for all players at the 4 Slams, the Masters 1000 events and the WTF. There is enough money generated by these events to have comprehensive universal testing. Throw in random players getting tested at 500 point, 250 point and challenger/futures events. Keep the out of competition testing but add blood to it as well. I think this system is feasible and it would ensure that anyone caught is an outlier rather than an unfortunate guy caught doing what many others are doing. The budget etc. has to be changed.

holdserve Says:

Obviously if all the top players are doping, it leads to a level playing field at the top.
In fact with the inadequacy of testing and lower ranked players not being able to afford the latest PED or best medical advice,ITF is creating a non level playing field (assuming all top players, say top 30, are all doping).
I read another article which says that in the interests of a level playing field, there should be no doping tests!!! When I first read it, I was shocked but now I feel it makes sense!
With the introduction of bio passport, the performance of all the top cyclists dropped in the mountainous circuit indicating indirectly that earlier all the top cyclists were blood doping!
Now we have Chris Froome whose performance recently in the mountainous circuit was much higher than the norm. Doubts about his doping surfaced but he passed all the tests. Is he really clean or has gene doping entered sports?
In this connection, I mention repoxygen.
“One example of a gene therapy with potential for doping in sports is Repoxygen, which was originally developed for the treatment of anemia…. Repoxygen consists of a segment of DNA designed to stimulate the synthesis of erythropoietin, a hormone normally produced and released by the kidneys that acts on bone marrow to augment the production of red blood cells… ”

i.e. use of repoxygen is blood doping.

There is no way currently that gene doping can be detected. WADA is working with manufacturers to introduce flags/ markers in such drugs but rogue laboratories will obviously not care for WADA’s requirements.

holdserve Says:

ok, I found the article in the Economist which talks about doping and prisoners’ dilemma

Ben Pronin Says:

If you don’t think Bolt is doping then this whole discussion is futile.

Kimberly Says:

just like there are people who can do outrageous mathematical equations there are people with outrageous speed and athletic ability. Advances in diet, nutrition, training techniques, usage of alternate training methods are making people stronger and fitter and faster. I don’t doubt there are cheaters in every sport but to say anyone at the top is a doper is pretty cynical.

Dan Martin Says:

A friend who was a D-1 track and field athlete once said every sport had a choice to make after Ben Johnson in 1988 w/ steroids. I think HGH and stamina drugs add another choice for every sport to make. The NFL has turned a blind eye. Other sports are making some strides. I hope the ITF, ATP and WTA all make strides to confront the possibility. Enough money is in the pipeline to increase the frequency of tests and keep testing techniques in sync with the current state of PEDs.

Kimberly Says:

ben, my husband has the same attitude as you. he exempts no one. When Kobe Bryant recently dunked over Josh Smith my husband was like that’s it, at his age with his miles, he’s doping. I think its cynical and not how I choose to view sports.

I am 39, very fit and I have a lot of stamina and power. I didn’t start playing tennis until later in life. I go to hot yoga, performance gyms like cross fit, and I am stronger and fitter than I was at 25 and am playing the best tennis of my life. My husband just turned 40 and he was a top junior and college player. He is losing MPH on his serve and smashing rackets because he cannot play or move like he could. He says I have no miles and he does and there lies the difference. Despite what he says I think diet is a big factor and he refuses hot yoga and massages.

I have the nutribullet which I saw on an insomniacal night on the tennis channel and do super green smoothies and more! I am sure the athletes have top nutritionists, masseauses, etc to increase their performance. I bet they have super green smoothies!

Ben Pronin Says:

Kimberly, how do you think pro players train?

Kimberly Says:

Ben I have read several of the training regimes of pro players. For example, nadal will spend three hours on court and three hours in the gym on a day like today. They use a myriad of stregnth, balance, flexibility, agilty, explosive power, speed, endurance training. Murray does the hot yoga as does Kobe Bryant!

rick Says:

“If you don’t think Bolt is doping then this whole discussion is futile.”

why? because you do? if we don’t agree with what you think then what’s the point?

Dan Martin Says:

I will say in terms of the 2012 Australian Open that Nole probably got an IV within 30 minutes of the semifinal ending. Nole had Saturday off to get rehydrated and any other trainer treatment that he needed. He played a night match in both the semis on Friday and finals on Sunday. Also, he plays slowly (as does Rafa) and this added some time to each match. My perspective is not to look at specific players at the moment, but just to see the governing bodies of tennis put a great system in place no matter what.

holdserve Says:

Either you believe all top players are doping because not only is testing inadequate, it can only test for known drugs. New drugs are constantly entering the market so the testers are always behind the dopers who can access the latest in the black market with expert advice. The moment a test is evolved for a drug, the dopers move on to a new drug.
Or you believe that all those not testing positive are innocent.
You cannot selectively pick players you dislike and claim they are doping. If testing is inadequate then it is inadequate for all players and all have to be considered suspect. Nadal and Muzza’s training regime is very arduous and well known. Both Federer and Djokovic are secretive.
Djokovic issues conflicting statements about what is responsible for his inhuman endurance.
Federer’s team is notoriously tight lipped and Fed trains in Dubai in top secrecy.
Also Ben, your statement that PED’s are responsible for 99% hard work is totally incorrect. Geniuses/ great ones are rare because it is difficult to work hard on a sustained basis. It requires immense dedication to keep working on a note or a problem or a tennis stroke till you perfect it. Practicing everyday for hours does not result from PEDs. Not everyone has that discipline. Otherwise we would have had many geniuses.
There was a gymnast called Nadia Comaneci who was hugely talented but rebelled against the strict regime of immense practice everyday. So her greatness was affected after she rebelled.
The so called player burn out is because the players rebel against the demands of immense hard work. The call of parties, dating and other normal activities of other young people, eating what you like etc are too powerful for most players to resist. PEDS cannot help in resisting the call of temptations away from the spartan training regime required of a great athlete.

Kimberly Says:


Nadal’s training regime, one of the first thing noted is he of prodigious natural strength as are other members of his family. When one of prodigious athletic ability commits to a spartan regime you get some miraculous stuff backed uo by top nutirtion and recoverybtechniques, no reason to doubt.

Skeezer Says:

“Nadal and Muzza’s training regime is very arduous and well known.”

Nadal’s? Lol……

Skeezer Says:

Rafa apparently loves the vibrator…..why isn’t this being investigated?! This Egg must be old news now, no?

“The keys to Rafael Nadal’s Training are not completely open to public evaluation”

I agree with this.

holdserve Says:

Are the keys to any top athlete’s training completely open to public evaluation?
So skeezer, not clear what you mean by your post. Doesn’t throw light on anything except perhaps your bias against Rafa.
As I said earlier Federer and Djokovic are secretive about their training.
In fact with Federer and his team not revealing anything about his training or diet, most of his fans are under the impression that he doesn’t practice at all and was probably born with his skills fully developed and his body not needing any fitness training. And he probably doesn’t need to eat either.

mem Says:

we all have our opinions, suspicions, or whatever; still, we must not lose sight of the truth. truth is, not all athletes dope in order to be consistent and successful. to suggest something like that would be unsubstantiated, foolish and ignorant. some athletes are blessed with great athletic genes. however, i do understand that genetics alone do not yield success, but combine it with hours and hours and hours of hard work, then, it becomes much easier to understand how a certain player may be able to out perform the majority. there are some athletes born with an inherit mental and physical strength which is the root of their success. bottom line, it’s absurb to think that all top players are dopers and deceivers. it’s just not true! we cannot overlook the fact that some players have worked consistently for years on their fitness and improving their games. after all, there is a such thing as ” hard work and sacrifice.”

Anna Says:

Kimberly – Thanks for the stuff on Rafa and Muzz. I’m very impressed with your regimine too. I’m supplementing one meal with a protein based smoothy but the green stuff is just hard to get down unless I throw an apple in the blender. Have a tendency to go for the fruit too much.

mem Says:


your post @11:29 is spot on!

Seth Says:

Would not ever be surprised to find out that Nadal dopes. Not saying he does, but it wouldn’t exactly be a shock.

holdserve Says:

Well Seth, I know what you are saying! your anti-Rafa bias is evident.
If you use logic, which sadly most fans of Fed seem to think is an unnecessary basis for an opinion, then finding out any of the top players is doping wouldn’t exactly be a shock given the limitations of testing.
Logically also there is no reason to suppose Rafa is more likely to dope than Federer. Blood doping and HGH, reported to be most likely in use in tennis, are not revealed by bulging muscles.
So Fed’s physique is just as suspect as Djokovic’s or Rafa’s.
After 2003, many observers reported that Federer seemed tireless and hardly seemed to breathe when he was playing. His resurgence in 2012 post 30 can also be suspect if you are inclined to suspect players without proof as you are doing.
Djokovic’s endurance starting 2011 is already the stuff of legend.
Instead of pointing fingers at players without any proof, better you do not say anything. Remember, an equally strong case, in fact an even stronger case, can be made against your favorite.
So better not insult Rafa without proof.

Skeezer Says:


My point stands. Why would any pro athlete still competing to be the best “reveal” what there training and nutrional methods are for real?

Its a game, competition, and Unc Toni and camp have been notorious for doing the “see this hand” but no “its in the other hand” stuff. Don’t beleve it for a nano second.

Why would any athlete reveal (whilst competeing for #1) go into depths of there training, diet, etc routines for all to see? U dudes all to naive. There are secret methods, and they hold them close to the vest, and they should(should be legal of course). And its just not all about Rafael Nadal, for those too sensitive get a life and lose the bedroom poster.

Skeezer Says:

Think about it, is Novak going to publish a nutrional and workout roadmap for all tennis athletes to see on the Tour?

Press release; Novak releases all his secret workouts and nutrional diet routines so you can beat all the top tour players too!


Skeezer Says:


“So Fed’s physique is just as suspect as Djokovic’s or Rafa’s”

The only thing you could possibly accuse Fed of is possible doping. HGH? Steriods? LMAO!!

TennisZod Says:

Roger’s more likely to dope than Nole and Rafa. It’s usually the ones you least suspect as they know they can get away with it. If you think about it in his younger years Roger did look like the kind to go for drugs with his long hair, attitude and desire to win win win at all time. Still it would be shocking, not to me but to the world, if he actually did dope. Kinda like Lance Armstrong.

holdserve Says:

skeezer, what’s your point? opaque, I must say.
Despite it being well known that Rafa has an arduous training/practice regimen, you seemed to find it hilarious that I should say so. Now you say the only thing I can accuse Fed of is possible doping. ?????
And you seem to find it funny that anyone could suspect him of HGH? By the way did you know HGH is a steroid and it isn’t a muscle building steroid? It is supposed to be anti aging? It has reportedly been in use in tennis at least from the 90s. As there are no tests for it with ITF, suspicion about 30+s doing well in tennis cannot be met with LMAO. Unless you are the sort of guy who laughs because he has no counter point.

skeezer Says:

uh… der…. its not all about aging dude….know your sh!t…


counter that.

anti aging?

“better not insult Fed without proof”

James Says:

“better not insult Fed without proof”

same goes for Nadal, skeeze.

Wog boy Says:

” You cannot selectively pick players you dislike and claim they are doping. If testing is inadequate then it is inadequate for all players and all have to be considered suspect. ”

This is fair statment, but then the same poster says:

” Nadal and Muzza’s training regime is very arduous and well known. Both Federer and Djokovic are secretive.
Djokovic issues conflicting statements about what is responsible for his inhuman endurance.”

Now we are selective, aren’t we? Without any proof, if you have one please post it.

James Says:

I think at this point it’s wrong to point a finger at any player until proven guilty. Just because a few do doesn’t mean everyone else does the same. Very unfair on those who never did dope.

Wog boy Says:

How secretive is Novak? This was published two years ago (methinks), for us who follow Nole not secretive at all, for those who cannot digest seven lost finals in a row, when their man was on top of his game, well … tough luck;)

“Novak and celiac disease

Jelena was with him when he was on the start of his career, raised in far worse conditions than most of his rivals, and on top of everything he was carrying rare celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine with symptoms of chronic diarrhea, failure to thrive and fatigue.
This disorder is caused by a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. He wasn’t aware that he is carrying this disease till 2011. Despite that he was managing to slowly become one of the best tennis players in the world by ranking in the top 10 few years in a row.”

For those who want to read whole article, this is the link:

Jatin Says:

If you cannot catch athelets who are doping then why not allow all players to dope ????
I mean , It would only be fair ,right ??

Margot Says:

I’m with Sean @6.18pm yesterday, on this. I would be absolutely gutted if it’s revealed that any of the top 10 are doping. It would change my view about tennis for ever.
Am not especially into cycling, but am wondering what fans feel about it after Armstrong. Are they left deeply cynical about the whole sport?

hawkeye Says:

Exactly Margot.

“I’m just glad I don’t watch sports through your eyes. Call me gullible, but until proven guilty I believe what I’m seeing is real.” -Sean Randall, July 28th, 2013 at 6:18 pm

So for everyone here like Sean doubting the use of PEDs in tennis, I’m wondering how you all felt about Lance Armstrong’s results when suspicions arose well prior to him being caught?

Again, tennis has a drug problem just on public suspicion alone and the ITF’s lack of spending more money on a proper program. They don’t want to take Rafa’s advise because they would have to make public just how little testing (especially blood testing) is occurring.


skeezer Says:

hawk eye,

“So for everyone here like Sean doubting the use of PEDs in tennis, I’m wondering how you all felt about Lance Armstrong’s results when suspicions arose well prior to him being caught?”

Well, I defended him during those title years and glory. But when the news came out, As a fan I was shattered. Does it lead me to believe now this could happen in any sport that can benefit from PEDS? Absolutely. Whilst agreeing with Sean “benefit of the doubt”, I am not going to ignore the “possibility” when controversy comes up anymore. Lance, among others, have proven you can completely fool the system for a long period of time at the highest level of sports.

m-eye take.



hawkeye Says:

Excerpt from a great article in The Scotsman…

“During this Wimbledon, Tomas Berdych, ranked sixth in the world, was asked what he thought about his sport’s policing of anti-doping. “It cannot be worse,” he said. Last year, Djokovic revealed that he had not been blood tested for six or seven straight months, a statement that was supported by other top players who feel that the ITF are asleep at the wheel, who feel that Miller’s assertion that tennis is in a “good place to detect instances of doping” is bunkum.

The ITF spend less and less money on anti-doping, the absence of many positive tests seemingly their reason for cutting down their costs year on year when many elite performers are telling them that the problem is rising, not falling.

“I’m sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers,” said the American player James Blake last year. “I’m realistic that, with this much money involved, people will try to find a way to get ahead.”

They don’t need to try that hard in tennis. The number of tests carried out is woefully low, the number of out-of-competition tests and blood tests is so far behind other sports that it is easy to conclude that tennis doesn’t want to catch anybody, that they are happy to have substandard testing that will allow them to carry on with the pretence that their sport is largely clean.


Pretty much says it all really.


skeezer Says:

^yep and thanks.

Steve 27 Says:

I blame the ATP and its ridiculous calendar. Ask Borg about it.

Ty Says:

June 29th @10:02 am “Bat-s**t Crazy Wimbledon Day Sees…”
“Ty Says:

Does anyone know of any surprise PED testing being administered this year at Wimby? These mass retirements and half-assed attempts cannot all be coincidence.”

So. Marin Cilic, who withdrew with “knee pain, no good…” has now been uncovered as having failed a drug test. There is one withdrawal(ee) busted. I’ve heard Monfils as well (unconfirmed) failed one in between French and Halle which would explain his inexplicable withdrawal while playing phenomenal tennis.

Watching those players slip all over the courts, and Tsonga’s transparent ‘attempt’ at playing tennis came off like vaudeville. I think there will be a reckoning from the antics at Wimbledon this year.

Ben Pronin Says:

James, what is the big deal if someone is innocent is accused? As long as they’re not wrongfully punished, then no harm no foul.

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, per that misguided article I clicked on (i’ve learned Bleacher Report has long been the cesspool of blogging), I like how the program is “broken” because an idiot like Troicki couldn’t follow the simple rules he agreed to.

What people have to understand is the Troicki ban has nothing to do with PEDs in tennis, it has to do with idiots in tennis.

Many of these players hardly went to school and as such they are more likely to “screw themselves” just like our friend Viktor did.

So based on what happened, Troicki would have failed any test that required him to give a blood sample that day.

Hell, if there were more blood testing Viktor may have been out of the game long ago for similarly refusing to take it.

Dumb dumb dumb.

Sean Randall Says:

I am also interested to see how much Novak gets involved in this Troicki case. He wasn’t at the London hearing so what good will he be now to Viktor?

A character witness? “Viktor is a great guy, trust me. I’m the world No. 1!”

Was he there watching the scene?

Plus, Novak now has bigger stuff to worry about, like keeping his dad’s mouth shut (though I’d prefer it to be even wider open!)

As I’ve said, I don’t think Troicki is a doper – what good what PEDs do him, his problem has always been between the ears and no amount of drugs is going are going to fix that – but he’ll likely get his sentence cut in half, probably more.

Wog boy Says:

I am betting my house that good barrister will cut Viktor’s sentence on six months or even let him of the hook. Why do I think so? Same as when police obtain, illegally, documents that cannot be used in Court, Russian Doctor were not to engaged in any kind of discussion with Viktor. She was there to take the blood sample from Viktor and to tell him “if you don’t give it, that will be consider that you are guilty.” She didn’t do that but even helped him how to word a letter, regardless of telling him whether it is going to work or not. That wasn’t her job and she influenced him into believing that he can get away. The prove that she did something wrong and ecouraged him to do what he did is her coming next morning to take blood sample. Why would she do that, there is no next morning, you either give it now or you are guilty. Why did I say Russian doctor, because she is Russian and if she loses her job she will not find another one but back in Russia. She will do anything now to keep her job even if that means to lie. Far too many inconsistency in her story. The only thing is that I doubt that Viktor will realize that he needs somebody to represent him as he did now by representing himself. Here, every footy player goes with barrister when they have judicial hearing for dangerous tackle, not to mention skiping blood test.

skeezer Says:

“Plus, Novak now has bigger stuff to worry about, like keeping his dad’s mouth shut (though I’d prefer it to be even wider open!)”

LMAO. Needs to have a Beer in the Pub with Unc Toni and compare PR notes.

Giles Says:

^^^ Can’t for the life of me understand your obsession with Uncle T. Well, each to their own.

James Says:

“James, what is the big deal if someone is innocent is accused?”

Really, Ben? So you think it’s ok to accuse a Rafa or Roger or Novak or any other tennis player of doping until proven not guilty? Ummm you’d be okay to be accused of doing something you never did?

James Says:

As for Troicki, he’s being punished for being too casual to follow anti doping rules. Sorry for him but serves him right. I hope it’s shorten to just 6 months for his sake, but punish they should.

Giles Says:

@James. So basically what Ben is saying is that it is ok for a player’s name to be tarnished for no reason whatsoever.

hawkeye Says:

Fixing, doping, whistle-blowing: secrets that tennis prefers not to discuss

“The TIU is funded by the “tennis family” – the ITF, ATP, WTA and the Slams – and operates a “no comment” policy on all operational matters. Thus it is not known how many deals the ITF and / or TIU have done with players to allow them to continue playing after breaking tennis rules, in exchange for information.
One senior betting integrity expert recently voiced concerns that tennis is clamping down on minor, obscure players while letting ‘bigger’ stars off the hook, publicly at least. ”There were certainly elements within the ruling bodies, who fund the TIU, that wanted stuff swept under the carpet,” the integrity expert said. “But to do the job to the full extent, you need to tackle the higher profile people involved and not just the lesser players. If you don’t want a problem [with bigger players], don’t look for it. And if you want to look for it, be aware that it won’t smell sweet.”


Ben Pronin Says:

Sean, I honestly didn’t even read the article. I also haven’t read bleacherreport in a long while. Jumping the gun a bit because it had a good title :D.

James, let me be more clear. If we assume everyone is innocent unless something comes up, we’ll never pursue anything. Journalists, fans, whoever, will just keep their heads in the sand because, god forbid, we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by wrongfully accusing them. But isn’t it better that we follow the red flags, maybe accuse some innocent people, as long as we get to the guilty ones? This isn’t like a trial. It’s an investigation. Sometimes you’re going to be wrong but you need to get to the truth.

Tennis x hippy chic Says:

If your innocent then youve got nothing to worry about,IMO they should bring out more testing,actually the more the better,as it all helps to keep the sport clean.

JC Says:

The beginning of this article asks: “is the drug problem spreading into tennis?”
I take this to mean that it hasn’t been a problem before. And I laugh:
Petr Korda – 1998
Juan ignacio chela – 2000
Guillermo Coria – 2001
Mariano Puerta – 2003 & 2005
Stefan Koubek – 2004
Alex Bogomolov Jnr – 2005
Karol Beck – 2005
Fillipo Volandri – 2008

…and these are just SOME of the men…in singles…who’ve been busted for doping.
Raising an eyebrow and tempering our enthusiasm at eye-popping feats of endurance and strength isn’t cynical anymore – it’s mandatory to ensure we aren’t taken for a bunch of idiots anymore. But, there are still some people who believe what they see without question – it’s a beautiful ideal, and congrats to those who maintain it in the face of sportspeople repeating the same patterns of dopers past. Beautiful, but very naive.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

Ben Pronin Says:

Does anyone remember the controversy during, I think, 2004 US Open when apparently a bunch of guys tested positive for nalindron or something and the names were not released or something? And then Greg Rusedski came out and basically said “if I get in trouble for this everyone else should get in trouble, too.” I’m foggy on the details. Maybe it was 2002.

James Says:

“isn’t it better that we follow the red flags, maybe accuse some innocent people, as long as we get to the guilty ones? This isn’t like a trial. It’s an investigation. Sometimes you’re going to be
wrong but you need to get to the truth.”

good point there, Ben. I only hope no innocent player’s image is ruined for something they never did. But you’re right, a lot more work needs to be done in catching the offenders.

Anna Says:

No, no, no! You never accuse a person of doing something their not guilty of. My God, our whole country is suppose to be predicated on that. For one thing the accusation goes out to 100 people, but only 15 get the memo that “oh by the way, he/she wasn’t guilty after all”. Careers are ruined…and sometimes lives are ruined. Find a way to do it right (testing), or as right as it can be and then fuggit about it. No matter what there will still be some who aren’t satisfied, but in reality they are few.

Ben Pronin Says:

Why does an international organization have to comply by the USA’s policies?

Can you come up with an athlete who was wrongfully accused of doping and his career was ruined?

mem Says:

Ben Pronin,

you might need to put down your keyboard and shut your mouth for a while. are you for real? how would you like to be falsely accused in the public’s eye, while everybody questions your integrity. if you were a public figure, would you be ok with having your reputation and character demolished in the public, knowing that it affects not only your good name, but your family and friends.

your comments really do attest to your immaturity. you actually believe that you have an answer for everything. you need to apply for job with the itf, atp, wada. maybe then you can put all your talk into action.

Ben Pronin Says:

If I had an answer for everything I’d have laid out a full proof plan to weed out every doper in every sport. I don’t have a solution, though.

As for shutting my mouth, I don’t think so. You can keep your head in the sand and scroll through my comments if you want.

mem Says:


can you read between the lines? it simply means you are a wanna-a-be know-it-all, but is out of touch with reality. problem situations are not always as easy to solve as you make them out to be. you live in a world of make believe! every player who is successful doesn’t have to dope to achieve. some players work hard! i am realist and i am not naive. i have common sense enough to know that every player is not honest, but then, every player is not dishonest either. you are right about one thing, “you don’t have the solutions.”

Ben Pronin Says:

“every player who is successful doesn’t have to dope to achieve. some players work hard!”

You have no idea how doping works.

holdserve Says:

Ben, from your posts it is clear you do not know how doping works. You think doping can work miracles and transform an ordinary player to a genius.
No point in presenting reasoned arguments to you. All a sheer waste. You need to have some knowledge of doping to understand the arguments presented by others. But clearly you have no knowledge of how doping works.

Ted Echols Says:

Damm Ben
What made you enemy number one to all these Rafa fans? Did you used to defend Fed and Djok on TT or what?

holdserve Says:

Ben seems to be an enemy of rational arguments, not Rafa fans.

mem Says:


and i suppose you do! stick with writing for the school’s newspaper. you’re out of your league!

nadalista Says:

@Ben Pronin says,

“Why does an international organization have to comply by the USA’s policies?”

Of course, “Innocent until proven guilty” is an American concept. Does anyone really expect the heathens out there to have sensibilities as heightened as Americans’?


Oh, nice to know a lot is still the same on tennis-x blog: when you cannot string a rational counter-argument together, reach for the resident straw man, Rafans and TT. That always helps……


holdserve Says:

Ben, WADA and anti doping agencies take care not to wrongfully accuse an athlete of doping. So obviously we cannot name an athlete who was wrongfully accused of doping.

nadalista Says:

RT @RomiCvitkovic: “Dimitrov asked about how familiar players are with doping documents, etc. Says there’s a 24-hr hotline for players to call and ask ?s.”


Skeezer Says:


Now the Rafa armada comes together and defends the current PED policies.

nadalista Says:

Rafa Armada. I like that term, hmmmm….

Never mind the fact that @skeezer, in a single breath, distorts the argument and casts aspertions on Rafans.


Skeezer Says:

^whatever…change the subject to which way your Rafa cologne blows….and u thought a mountain trek changed u…..

nadalista Says:

^^You should try it @skeezer, the Rafa cologne that is, makes even bitter souls come out smelling roses!

Anyhoo, let’s look forward to Montreal, hey! I do hope Fed makes it, although I have a sneaking suspicion even that will not cure your IARS (Irritable Anti-Rafa Syndrome)..

ps: and thanks for asking about my Kili trip, one word describes my feelings about it: humbling.

nadalista Says:

…..and of course the mountain trek changed me, I am now more……fragrant!


Roll on Friday! (or should that be, splash on Friday…)


Giles Says:

@nadalista. Hahaha. Your posts are a breath of fresh air or should I say a breath of “Rafa Cologne”. Keep ’em coming.

nadalista Says:

Thanks @Giles! We Rafans, like Rafa, have no reason to be bitter, we are very happy with what we have!

Here’s hoping our guy enjoys a good showing during the up-coming North American swing.


Ben Pronin Says:

Mem, there are substances out there that you can really say work miracles. Not in terms of how it’ll affect your play, but how it’ll help you recover. Ray Lewis and his tricep injury comes to mind. Deer antler spray? More like miracle spray.

I don’t think it makes an ordinary player a genius. Let me lay out for you clearly and please don’t nitpick: Doping, in tennis or in any other sport or even for a recreational gym-attendee, allows you to work HARDER. It lets you get to your goals faster and pushes your body past your natural limits. You make it sound like a guy will inject himself with steroids and just sit around watching TV while someone who’s clean is hitting the gym. No. The guy who injects himself with steroids will go to the gym and workout twice as long with twice the intensity.

The result? He’s more fit. And what does fitness give an athlete? Confidence. And didn’t we just get an interview from Federer saying how important confidence is? So no, it’s not going to make anyone a genius, but it’ll give the guy the sense that he can do whatever it takes for as long as it takes without keeling over. And that is huge in every single sport.

I understand that it’s bad to falsly accuse someone if they’re innocent, but it happens all the time. Why the outrage? And again, please provide me an example of an athlete who was wrongly accused and his career was ruined. I mean Nadal is a pretty good example of a guy who is constantly accused and badgered with doping allegations. But as far as we know, he’s innocent, and I don’t see his career or even his image being ruined.

All I’m saying is follow the red flags. A lot of fans say “Oh man he’s so amazing for doing that never-before-seen physical feat” and then when you find out he’s doping it’s “Oh what a lying, dirty, cheat. I feel so betrayed! He’s the worst person ever!”

Athletes who dope aren’t bad people, by the way. Kudos to you for not being as cynical as I am. Sean said it himself, he’d hate to view sports through my eyes. In a lot of ways it sucks. I don’t take any of it for face value. But for everyone as cynical as I am, there’s at least 2 people blissfully naive to believe that everyone is squeaky clean except for the ones that are busted. If everyone keeps their heads in the sand, nothing will ever get done.

the DA Says:

A very interesting article on Nole’s secret diet and training regime:


holdserve Says:

Ben, you are completely missing the point. Fans can wrongfully accuse anyone. But anti doping authorities are careful not to, because a wrong accusation could ruin an innocent athlete’s career. That is why immediately on getting a positive test, they don’t go to town. They test sample B.
They inform the athlete so he can get a chance to defend himself.
If you see the athletes, the biggest difference between the greats and others is their dedication and discipline. Not every guy who dopes is necessarily disciplined enough. How do you conclude that merely because a guy dopes, he will necessarily have the discipline and commitment to practice and train for 6-8 hrs per day, give up partying, eat healthy etc?

What you are saying is like the joke about glasses.
An illiterate guy went to get himself fitted with reading glasses thinking they would help him read. You need to fulfill the basic requirements for any aid to help or enhance.

Ben Pronin Says:

Holdserve, I guess I did miss that point. I’m not calling for the authorities to randomly accuse players at all. Test sample B, hold a trial, etc. But fans and especially journalists or whatever they’re called in the tennis world shouldn’t shy away from calling out suspicion. Should Tignor or Bodo write “The Big 4 are obviously doping”? No, but they should be allowed to write “The Big 4 Might be Doping and Here’s Why” without a mob picking up the pitch forks and trying to burn their houses down.

Ok but that doesn’t mean great players don’t dope. Armstrong had as much discipline as any other great athlete and he doped.

Just out of curiosity, have you done any research on the doping agents out there? IGF-1, HGH, even steroids. They obviously have side effects. But if you take them and don’t actually utilize them, the side effects are way worse. It’s not that dissimilar from eating protein. If you workout and eat protein you’ll have big and strong muscles. If you sit on the couch all day eating protein, you’ll get fat.

Ty Says:

Man. When fans were calling for transparency I do not believe this is what they had in mind.

Djokovic makes his diet public (predictable).


Ty Says:

Never in my life have I seen Djokovic on the front page of ANYTHING. All the sudden he pops up on Yahoo!’s front page about an article in the Times discussing and laying out his diet.

This could go both ways. Either his camp is overexerting itself to prove he is clean; or he’s dirty and covering it up. I suppose the public has to take the evidence and decide, until said evidence is supplemented.

courbon Says:

@ Ty: You missing a little point here….
NOVAK IS REALISING BOOK ABOUT DIET!!!So that is the reason that he is writing about diet.Its called promotion!
But you can think that si connected with doping…or aliens if you feel like that

courbon Says:

@ Ty: Just to ad,you probably have been in coma during the 2011, because Novak was on the front pages everywhere that year…

Wog boy Says:

Maybe Ty was with Amishes or Plymouth brethrens for the last three years?

courbon Says:

@ Wog Boy: Ma nabijem ga ja na k…

Ted Echols Says:

Courbon, the 2011 coma is called denial.

courbon Says:

That’s funny Ted

nadalista Says:

RT @linzsports: “Isner was asked if people in the locker room are discussing doping. “No. We’re talking about fantasy baseball. I’m in ninth place.”

WTF Says:

Maybe a minority of players dope, but it’s overall by no means a dirty sport. I don’t think the top players do it. It’s just far too risky.

Top story: Rafael Nadal Rolls In Return, Sets De Minaur Showdown Wednesday In Barcelona