Rafa and WADA, cont.

Photo by C Said (from www.fft.fr)

Photo by C Said (from www.fft.fr)

Rafa is again talking about the anti-doping schedule: Doping rules too strict.

“I am the first who wants a clean sport but the way [controls] are being done is, in my opinion, not right,” he said.

“It’s too much to have to say where you are every day of your life.”

Same issue he’s always talked about.

If an athlete fails to be in the specified location on three occasions in an 18-month period, they incur an automatic ban.

Malisse and Wickmayer were both given one-year bans by the Flemish Doping Tribunal in Belgium for falling foul of the rule.

They have both announced their intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although Malisse said he may struggle to afford the costs involved.

Fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters described the punishments as “extremely harsh”.

Nadal added: “I’m always going to side with the players and defend the players.

“I have confidence in my colleagues and in other players. I always believe they’re clean. Until the results tell me otherwise, I’m going to defend my friends.”


The bans for the Belgian pair were announced shortly after Andre Agassi revealed in his autobiography that he tested positive for crystal meth in 1997 and lied to the ATP in order to escape a ban.

Yeah, coincidence much?

25 Responses

  1. mary says:

    Rafa & fellow tennis pros are just gonna have to stick together on this one to get any changes happening. WADA has the right to try & keep the sport clean but not punish innocent players cause of their strick policy’s. I think they sould test them when they turn up to each tourny & when they exit that tourney & thats it. But I’m no expert & thats just my opinion, but it makes sense, no?

  2. CC says:

    Although part of me thinks that the “I-must-let-you-know-where-I-am-one-hour-a-day-three-months-in-advance” rule is utterly ridiculous, the other part of me thinks “tough, get on with it”.
    There seems to be a lot of players airing their views about this (which of course is fine), but what actually gets done to change it?
    A lot of talk, but no hockey (as we say in Sweden), me thinks.

    • natch says:

      I’m in the “Get over it. This is the life you chose.” camp.
      Also…I want to get in on that WADA action and wake Rafa up at 7am with a a legitimate excuse to ask him to remove everything from the waist down. ;)
      *runs to sign up for WADA volunteers*

      • CC says:

        Oh, natch. If you turned up at 7am and helped sleepy Rafa remove his underpants, I’m sure he would suddenly change his mind about this whole thing right there and then. ;)

        • An says:

          Sure sounds as an intresting job….

          Pretty sure Rafa we, as his Rafanatics, could bring Rafa to like the early tests!;)

          I’m with you on the part: the tests belong to the life you choose but i can see the problem wich they have on the intrusion off theire private lives. I don’t know enough about drugs and testing on drugs but i think there must be another way this could be solved to evrybody’s agreement.

          If they cannot find one, the solution must be that we go test Rafa in early mornings.

  3. patzin says:

    It seems to me they should be tested prior and after a tournament – the balance of the off time should not be required. It should be cornered around the tournaments for which they are being tested.

    • miri says:

      I think off-time, what little they do have, is important for testing. After all, that’s when they are training, perhaps trying to re-arrange/build muscle and some kinds of doping might help with that.

  4. kefuoe says:

    I really admire Nadal for being outspoken in his support of his colleagues. However, the cynic in me worries that he might be naive. I don’t believe everyone is as honorable as he is, so a blanket statement may be overstating the case.

    OT: Cool that you put have the “Best of Us” Widget

    • aRafaelite says:

      I agree. I admire Rafa (and Murray) for on speaking out on the anti-doping issue. I’m unbelievably disappointed that the ATP covered up for Agassi, of whom I was a big fan (I’m still a bit in shock). I’ve never taken a drug in my life, never smoked, drink less alcohol in a year than the average Aussie drinks in a week, and have limited sympathy for those who turn to drugs. But I really do think that registering your whereabouts for one hour a day every day of the year is overkill and an unacceptable invasion of privacy. Sure, the players have chosen their life on tour, and drug-testing is a necessary part of that, but the availability requirements are too much. How many other sports are this strict? I think the ATP and WADA demand too of players. They’re humans, not machines.

  5. emir says:

    sorry people i am not on his side in this issue……everytime he speaks abaut this issue i am very dissapointed…the other guy his name is not needed here yeah i am on his side in this issue yes it can be annoying to say where you are 1 hour everyday BUT LIVE WITH IT….the doping testing process HAS TO BE STRICT….you know he has only him self to blame right now he is giving all the haters and doubters a reason to BE SUSPICIOUS…..even he makes me UNCOMFORTABLE abaut him sorry…you are proffesinal famous and this sport brings you so much happinees LIVE WITH THE DIFFUCULTIES as well…once you retired great life is waiting for you…i dont understand him sorry…

    • mary says:

      Hey you might be right, but I don’t know of any other sport that an agency of anti dopers follows each player around like a hound dog waiting to pounce at any given moment. (god you’re right natch, I wanna volunteer big time).
      They have a long season & very little down time, so I guess Rafa is just trying to say let me have time to myself. I don’t think there is anything suspicious about his grievances for wanting privacy with his friends & family.

      • Mim says:

        Mary, you are spot on!

        That kind of system, ironically, is downright ILLEGAL.

        Fight the power and stand up!

        If people just roll over and say “C’est la vie”, nothing will change.

        What if slaves agreed to just “live with it” when that’s exactly what their slave owners order them to do and expected them to do?

        This is getting WAY out of hand (it has been out of hand for a long time) and it’s time the players make a move and stand together and stand strong!

        People need to know their rights! And unfortunately, nowadays, not too many people know what those rights are and so when something unjust and illegal is happening to them right under their noses, they don’t have the knowledge or sense to object.

        Right on Rafa! You go man! As VP of the Players Council, you are filling your role and living up to your responsibilities for being the players’ advocate.

        It is definitely NOT a coincidence that the ATP came down hard on those two Belgian players. They are clearly overreacting and coming down hard to try and appease WADA and cover their own asses since Agassi exposed their cover up.

        • miri says:

          Slavery? You are comparing rich, coddled athletes who have a choice to slaves? I don’t agree with all the WADA rules, but that’s beyond the pale to me.

          They actually followed the letter of the doping rules in handing down the sentences to the Belgian players. I don’t agree with the length of the bans, but they were mandated within the rules as they stand. So, they didn’t “come down hard,” they followed the rules. Perhaps they wouldn’t have without the Agassi confession, but if they hadn’t, they would have been doing something outside the rules as written.

          And, lastly, “they” isn’t the ATP. They do not administer the doping program, write the rules and/or administer the punishment. They stopped being in charge of them ages ago in order to prevent things like, say, a top player writing a letter to the ATP and lying about his drug use and getting away with it. In this case, the ban was handed down by a Flemish Doping Tribunal.

          And tennis is not the only support subject to the rules of WADA.

  6. emir says:

    sorry mary this is HUGE bussiness….millions of dollars fame and success AT STAKE….everybody wants their privacy but if this is the way to keep the sport clean…LIVE WITH IT…the sport isnt becoming clean just to SAY LIKE RAFA our sport is clean….i beleive people HOW…. do you nkow them since you were 5 years old…..so dont beleive evrrybody….

  7. Atch2 says:

    I think the 1-hr rule is a bit strict and not realistic. I don’t have a busy and changing schedule like a professional tennis player and I change my plans often during the day. What I was planning to do at 11am sometimes may get shifted to 1.15pm say.

    Players have little personal time to themselves as it is, and 1-hr a day rule restricts their freedom even more. Imagine u think your match will finish at 6pm but gets delayed bec of previous long matches or rain delays and you end up finishing at midnight. WADA then wakes you up at 5am to test you which you though was going to be ok bec you thought you would’ve been in bed by 9pm the previous night.

    Can players just say where they will be on that day, or just every weekdays or weekends? Give players more flexibility.

    Rafa wants what’s best for the sport and players. They can come up with the compromise if all involved just discussed it.

  8. emir says:

    come on people i cant beleive the naive comments that some people putting here…to compare tennis players with SLAVES….ok i am a fan but not the kind that i will say AMEN to everything rafa says…he is abasulately NOT RIGHT in this case……for him to say that i beleive our sport clean i beleive players on the tour more than NAIVE….at the end of the day once these players retired they wont even have to say where they are EVEN A MINUTE and a great life waiting for them…of courese there has to be some diffuculty in this MULTI MILLIANOIRE WAR ZONE….this is BUSINESS people they arent playing for fun…so i trust you do trust me ahhh i trust you as well……the rule of wada at the moment gives a cheater hell time ok maybe non cheaters are also suffering but you know not everything can be perfect…

  9. sunset says:

    I have been thinking about this for a while now like I am sure a lot of other Rafa fans did. Unfortunately I cannot bring myself to blindly trust anybody even if it comes down to Rafa whom I admire and love to bits. Here is the bottom line: 1) I am in full support of the strictly enforced rule of testing tennis players off-tournaments, unexpected and unannounced beforehand if necessary. This is the only way to prove the so called “haters and doubters” false in their insinuation about tennis players—Rafa or anyone else—using performance enhancing drugs during off-tourney training period to build muscles and win titles. It is claimed that some of these drugs cannot be detected after 4 or 5 days since being taken, so testing for them only on-tour does not prove anything. 2) As long as Rafa is being tested like everyone else and found clean every time, he can say whatever he wants about being annoyed by his privacy being violated, day in and day out—not a problem with me. As long as it is not used as a cover-up for unspeakable purposes, he should be free to voice whatever is on his mind like everybody else.

    • kayM says:

      This one hour everyday rule was introduced at the beginning of this year and I don’t think Rafa could have got away without being “tested like everyone else and found clean every time”. I think that’s exactly why he is saying his privacy and fellow tennis players’ privacy being violated day in and day out. Wouldn’t that be a good topic other than weather to talk in the locker room? What WADA volunteers did to me last week? Rafa’s on the Player Council he is being a man to 1. voice his opinion 2. stand up for his fellow players.

  10. sia says:

    I find the one year ban seems extremely cruel … these players haven’t tested positive for anything they just weren’t in the right place or failed to call (log) in. I understand this is against the rules but I suspect not every player has people to help in this regard. One year is so hard for a professional player.For example, Malisse, who is (has been) a very good player, had a couple of bad injuries during the last couple of years. I think he snapped a tendon in his wrist and so was out for a bit … then upon his return he injured his knee (caus he’d he away from the game). These injuries were in 07 and 08 … he ended up taking the rest of 08 off to just concentrate on getting physically ready for 2009.(He was training in the US). Of course he had dropped way off in the rankings but has managed to recover really well and has had a good, solid year (playing many Challengers) bringing his ranking back up into the top 100. Now (and this is why he was in tears during an interview) he thinks he will probably have to retire.

  11. robert says:

    “…but what actually gets done to change it?”

    There is something being done as we speak, actually. A large group of professional sportsmen from various sports are organizing themselves to file a joint lawsuit against WADA in front of the European Court of Human Rights over this whereabouts rule, on account of their right to privacy was being violated.

    Stay tuned.

    • kalliopeia says:

      Really, that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard about that. I do think the whereabouts rule is excessive and unfair. We all want sports to be clean but it seems to me that there has to be a line that cannot be crossed. I don’t agree at all that privacy is the price that must be paid. These guys are people who have lives outside their sport, and they should be allowed to live them.

    • eliza says:

      Glad to hear it. Everybody has a right to privacy, and choosing a career in sport should not have to mean giving that up.

    • mary says:

      Yahooooooooo!!!! EXCELLENTE! About f*****g time. Btw, they got the money to take em on toooo!!

  12. emir says:

    no whereabauts is the only way to catch the cheater……thats it….there is so called ERASER IN SPORTS when you take that eraser your test are NEGATIVE it is as simple as that…whereabuts makes the cheater vulnerbale to get caught….to test someone during the tournuments 100 out 99 POINTLESS…..there is also some drugs 5 or six days later it looks negative the effect of it stays for months…

  13. Sammy says:

    I agree that the rules are ridiculous and an unneeded invasion of the players’ privacy. Testing for drugs daily (or even more than once daily) during a tournament is understandable. Asking a player to make himself available to produce a sample any time any where for 11 months every year is just plain lunacy! As has been said, NO other sport asks that of its players! Nadal is not the only player who protested those draconian rules, but players that have the balls to speak their mind are unfortunately a minority. The “live with it” attitude is a meek way of dealing with things and people like Nadal have the strength of character to protest what they see as a wrong situation. It’s people like him who keep the ATP decision makers honest as they realize they can’t just arbitrarily impose whatever rules they dream up without being taken to task for it, and BIG kudos to him for that. Bottom line: the more Nadal and others speak against those rules, the more the chance will be for them to be changed.