Are Tennis Players Juicing Up?

Scott Adams claims he knew Lance Armstrong was dirty, and claims that hedge fund managers and tennis players will soon be revealed as well:

Eventually you’ll see the same sort of doping scandal in tennis. It’s obvious that many of the top players – especially the women – are up to something. You can tell by the sudden changes in body shape and performance. It’s especially obvious when you see players having their best performances after the age of thirty. …

Allow me to get out in front with both tennis and hedge funds. My bullshit filter says tennis is filled with juiced-up cheaters, and the majority of hedge funds are criminal enterprises hiding behind “secret” algorithms.

Just to be clear, I don’t think Roger Federer is abusing any substances. His body shows no signs of it. I think Andy Roddick is clean too, or else he would still be playing. I would put the juicing rate at somewhere near 50% for the top thirty players.

There have been concerns:

Consider that Petr Korda was an Australian Open champion who tested positive to steroids, current pro Wayne Odesnik faced charges in Brisbane for illegally importing human growth hormone, and several past and present players, including current world No.7 Sara Errani, have been linked with Armstrong-connected medico Luis Garcia del Moral.

As the Sydney Morning Herald article notes, there is a great deal of random testing, but as I recall Lance Armstrong passed all but maybe one of his tests over the years. According to AP in the Myrtle Beach Online, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have called for more out-of-competition testing, which is currently rare in tennis:

Just three of the out-of-competition blood tests in 2011 were on female tennis players. ITF statistics on its web site show it didn’t test Serena Williams out of competition at all in 2010 and 2011, years she won the Australian Open and Wimbledon and lost a U.S. Open final. …

Li Na, the 2011 French Open women’s singles winner from China, also was not tested out of competition by the ITF or WADA in 2011 or in 2010, but was tested in-competition. Of the 642 tested tennis players, 510 were not tested out of competition at all in 2011 – when athletes aren’t playing between events or in the offseason.

Many experts say that tennis requires such a combination of mental fortitude, coordination and endurance that “juicing-up” would be counter-productive. Novak Djokovic attributes his improved fitness to his low-gluten diet, time spent in his pressure pod and his intense drills. But Pat Cash recently claimed that performance-enhancing drugs might be perfect for tennis:

In a candid interview, Cash said … “It’s the perfect sport to take performance enhancing drugs, with the recovery, strengthening etc, but I think the lack of positive results shows that tennis is a clean sport.” …

But like Murray, who said that since 1990 tennis had seen around “65 positive tests, 10 of them recreational and 30 to 35 performance-enhancing in that time,” Cash is convinced that despite the perfect storm of effectiveness and lack of testing (in 2010, Murray did not undergo a single out-of-competition test), it just doesn’t happen.

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One response to “Are Tennis Players Juicing Up?”

  1. sykose says :

    Reblogged this on Sykose.

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