View Full Version : Wertheim on Drug use in the WTA

Jul 22nd, 2002, 06:24 PM
I'd like to thank eta psi, who drew my attention to this in another thread.

Now that John Mendoza (Australian Sports Drug Agency chief executive) has courageously come out for drug testing because drug use is "rife" in tennis, especially on the women's side, why won't the WTA and ITF admit it has a criminal and sporting problem? It hardly behooves the tennis world (or baseball, football, track, etc.) to have it stars portrayed as junkies who can swing a racket. Didn't Ivan Lendl address this problem with a clear-headed, but stern, ban-them-for-life solution? What is best for the sport?
óWalter Ledesma, Lake Oswego, Ore.

Courageously? Mendoza pops off about rampant drug use in tennis, but rather than citing concrete evidence to support what is an extraordinarily serious and incriminating charge -- one that cuts to the sport's core credibility -- he talks about the women's "abnormal physique." What does that mean? Abnormal to whom? I see a phrase like that and I envision a small man who is freaked out by strong, muscular women. You're right that it hardly behooves the sport to have its stars portrayed as drug cheats. But as long as the allegations are as unsubstantiated and apparently speculative as Mendoza's, I'm not sure that tennis takes much of a hit.

For a variety of reasons -- one of them, I believe, is some folks' desperation to discredit the success of the Williams sisters -- drugs-in-tennis has been a hot topic of late, both in general and among Mailbag readers. The stance here remains unchanged. Is tennis somehow free of the drug cheats who sully every other sport? No. Is it likely that more players will test positive within the next year? Yes. Do the tours as well as the ITF need to step up their testing programs in a meaningful way that goes beyond repeating the buzzword "transparency" at every available opportunity? Absolutely, the WTA in particular. But talk of "rife" drug use in tennis is wildly overstated.

Tennis, to be sure, is not without its ills. Management groups exert entirely too much power, too many players are getting injured, the sport's profile in the United States continues its slow burn, players bag tournaments at the 11th hour with "maladies" like gastritis. But from everything I've seen and been told, on and off the record, the widespread use of performing-enhancing drugs isn't one of them.

Jul 22nd, 2002, 06:27 PM
To me, he pretty much covers it all there, including mentioning the 'discredit the Williams sisters' angle, without making that more of an element than it really is.

BTW, I agree with Ivan Lendl. Toss 'em out for life. There has to be an appeals process for positive tests, but in the face of incontrovertible evidence, nail 'em to the wall.

Jul 22nd, 2002, 07:51 PM
Write on!

Jul 22nd, 2002, 09:24 PM
Funniest thing about this doping and tennis issue is how people will say that "Why would these players use drugs?".

It's difficult to say, but can some one tell me why British pole vaulter Janine Whitlock used steroids? Even if she would win Olympic gold she would earn hundreds time less than pro tennis players. One GS win will make a tennis player more famous and more popular than one Olympic gold in women's pole vault.

Think about it.

That's all for now.

Jul 23rd, 2002, 12:27 PM
Players in obscure sports who would gain no money OR fame take performance enhancers. Athletes are a competitive bunch. During the Olympics, they asked a bunch of the athletes if they take a drug that cut 10 or 20 years off their life if it guaranteed tham a gold medal. Most of them said they'd do it. A fact that really disturbed the poll takers.

There HAVE to be pro tennis players taking PE's. However, that doesn't mean the elite players are. Does Fed Cup drug test, BTW? How about the ITF?