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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 06:08 AM   #1
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NYT Q&A with Stacey Allaster on medical timeouts, doping, more

Q. and A. With the WTAís Stacey Allaster

MELBOURNE, Australia ó It was a news-making Australian Open for womenís tennis with the emergence of young talent, a major upset of Serena Williams by the 19-year-old Sloane Stephens and a controversy over medical timeouts involving the eventual champion Victoria Azarenka.

More developments lie ahead with the Womenís Tennis Association still searching for new sponsorship and preparing to start official site visits for the five candidate cities bidding to stage the W.T.A. Championships beginning in 2014. The intent is to announce the winner in April.

On the eve of the womenís final in Melbourne, Stacey Allaster, the chairman and chief executive of the WTA, discussed the state of the game. An edited version of that interview:

Q.
Some exciting new womenís players have really emerged here, particularly from the United States with Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Jamie Hampton. Thoughts?

A.
Itís been a great open for that. Sloaneís the whole package, and theyíll all just push each other. Laura Robson and Heather Watson will do the same. And thereís also Ash Barty, a good young player I hadnít seen before.

Q.
What did you think about the medical timeout controversy with Azarenka against Stephens? What needs to happen in the aftermath?

A.
I know Vika pretty well, and sheís a good girl. And I think she probably just thought Iím going to play through this and get through it and that game was just too much and she had to call it. Probably in hindsight she would have done it differently and then after that, I think itís the judgment of the medical experts. Itís their responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of the athlete. They made a determination that she needed a medical treatment and followed it and according to the rules. Itís not Vikaís fault it took 10 minutes.

Q.
Still, consecutive medical timeouts are very unusual.

A.
For sure. I donít have the details on that. I just know the medical experts followed the medical timeout according to the rules, but certainly there is always something that happens in a situation like this. And the supervisors will have a debrief after a Slam to review it. Does something need to be modified for the future? Weíll see. On the WTA, we obviously have different rules. We put a limit on the number of medical timeouts you could have in a calendar year in the WTA. Itís six and if they need more, they pay a fee, and thereís nothing like attaching monetary deterrent to an athlete because they donít want to pay so we actually saw a reduction in our medical timeouts once we instituted our rule a couple years ago.

Q.
What about the notion that you should not be able to take a medical timeout like that before someone elseís serve unless itís a true emergency? Should the rule be tightened?

A.
Look, I agree with Vika that it wasnít the ideal time. Possibly, if that rule was like that then that would have encouraged Vika to take it earlier, but I bet you she just thought, ĎIím going to play through this.í And it got to be too much. Itís not like a team sport where you can take somebody out and keep it going. If you are the doctor and someone canít breathe and itís 40 degrees out there, you have to treat that seriously. So we have to trust those people and respect that itís controversial and that itís not crystal clear to us so we have to go with the medical expert and their opinion.

Q.
Word is, you are close to a major sponsorship deal after a long search. True?

A.
Iím really optimistic. In my year-end address I mentioned that I was optimistic we might have one or two new global partners. I remain optimistic. Stay tuned.

Q.
Your perspective on the ongoing negotiations with the Grand Slam tournaments over getting big increases in prize money?

A.
Weíre working directly with each Grand Slam. I think obviously Tennis Australia stepped up here. The French Open is making a big effort.

Q.
Have heard theyíre talking about a big increase ó perhaps as much as $10 million Euros total ó over the next three years?

A.
I think everyone is working hard at fairly compensating our athletes and it remains to be seen where we get to with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the final proposal and plan that the French Open comes with. I must say that the Slams have heard the athletes and itís always going to be a pathway to getting there and now we have to see if they come through but certainly Tennis Australia hit it out of the park. They did a good job.

Q.
Did the Grand Slam leaders meeting with the WTA players in Istanbul at your championships last year make a difference?

A.
Yes. The athletes are key to this business and the Slams need to chat with them and hear them and what their concerns are. It was very constructive and thatís where those conversations need to stay. Keep it in the boardroom and not in the media and letís see where we get to.

Q.
I spoke with International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti, who said that tennis is serious about trying to upgrade its antidoping efforts. He is backing the introduction of the biological passport used by cycling and track and field. Where does the WTA stand?

A.
I think weíre completely open to ensuring that our sport stays clean and if more investment is required then thatís something we are absolutely committed to, so I think coming out of this Slam, the tennis antidoping group is going to sit and look and be prudent about how we go forward. Itís obviously a very sophisticated area.

Q.
How much pressure does the Lance Armstrong case put on tennis?

A.
I mean itís just so unfair to all professional athletes and everyone in sport, that this one guy can cast now this black cloud over athletes that are clean. And our program is very good. It doesnít mean we donít have to stay diligent and keep fighting at it and making sure it stays at the very best, but itís a tragedy what he did to sports, himself, his family. I watched that interview, and I thought, ĎHow could you do that to your kids? How do you do that?í Those kids, how are they going to grow up? Itís tragic. Thereís also the good, humanitarian in him so itís just messed up, big time. But I donít know how a sport keeps that quiet for that many years with that many people involved.

Q.
So should tennis push forward with a biological passport program?

A.
If thatís what we need to do, yes. Iím a neophyte in the technical aspects of it. We have the whereabouts program. Weíve got better sophistication now and probably the next level for us is to look at the passport and more blood testing.

Q.
Are the top women being tested enough out of competition or better to increase that for your own sense of due diligence?

A.
If the experts who deal with this come back and say, ĎThis is our recommendation on the way forward, and we want to take our program up to two notchesí and if thatís what it means, Iím supportive and our athletes will be, as well.

Q.
Li Na back in a Grand Slam final. Whatís the impact for womenís tennis in and out of China?

A.
Sheís a national hero and nothing like being able to go to the dance again so I think people will rally around her. By 2014, weíre going to have five events in China plus three 125s. Thatís eight events. Weíre really starting to have a footprint there so itís going to be helpful.

Q.
Have read speculation that there may be need for another head this year for the WTA. That was very surprising based on your recent comments. Any truth in that?

A.
I was shocked by that myself. I definitely read it. I just started a new five-year contract and had the best annual review I ever had. Thereís nothing youíre missing.

Q.
Brad Drewett, your counterpart at the ATP, has just announced heís suffering from Lou Gehrigís disease and plans to step down. I know you know him well.

A.
Itís brutal. Itís horrific. It snaps you back and brings you back to reality. Heís a good guy, a very good guy, and itís just not fair.

http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.co...E3D7B6132431C5
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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 06:13 AM   #2
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Re: NYT Q&A with Stacey Allaster on medical timeouts, doping, more

Quote:
Q.
Have read speculation that there may be need for another head this year for the WTA. That was very surprising based on your recent comments. Any truth in that?

A.
I was shocked by that myself. I definitely read it. I just started a new five-year contract and had the best annual review I ever had. There’s nothing you’re missing
.
Best part of the article.

Nice read, thank you.
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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 06:38 AM   #3
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Re: NYT Q&A with Stacey Allaster on medical timeouts, doping, more

5 year contract? *shoots myself*
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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 06:40 AM   #4
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Re: NYT Q&A with Stacey Allaster on medical timeouts, doping, more

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennis Fool View Post
Q. and A. With the WTAís Stacey Allaster

Q.
Still, consecutive medical timeouts are very unusual.

A.
For sure. I donít have the details on that. I just know the medical experts followed the medical timeout according to the rules, but certainly there is always something that happens in a situation like this. And the supervisors will have a debrief after a Slam to review it. Does something need to be modified for the future? Weíll see. On the WTA, we obviously have different rules. We put a limit on the number of medical timeouts you could have in a calendar year in the WTA. Itís six and if they need more, they pay a fee, and thereís nothing like attaching monetary deterrent to an athlete because they donít want to pay so we actually saw a reduction in our medical timeouts once we instituted our rule a couple years ago.



http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.co...E3D7B6132431C5
Imagine asking that players pay like 1000 to get that extra medical attention. 1000 for the likes of Serena/Maria/Li etc is not the same for the much lower ranked opponents. This does nothing for the top players, if they go that path- shouldn't be a percentage of their earnings?
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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 06:47 AM   #5
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Re: NYT Q&A with Stacey Allaster on medical timeouts, doping, more

Very interesting read.
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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 08:20 AM   #6
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Re: NYT Q&A with Stacey Allaster on medical timeouts, doping, more

chile if they don't stop acting like that little girl didn't just barely beat a Serena Williams on 1 ankle and a fucked up back..............................
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