A near death penalty for Gasquet, Serena's attitude and more mail
• We look at other sports and mock their anti-doping protocol -- the loopholes, the tip-offs and the toothless deterrents. Just last week, after all baseball has been through,
Few of us, of course, have an inside track on whether Gasquet did or didn't dabble in Bolivian marching powder. Like many, I find it wildly out of character. But, really, who knows? What we do know is this: In the absence of a real union, tennis players are getting hammered on the issue of anti-doping. The "penal code" is way out of whack with reality or fairness. The appeals process is convoluted and prohibitively expensive. The thresholds are brutally harsh. The banned substance list is exhaustive -- until recently, it included anti-hair-loss drugs. (And while no one condones cocaine, haven't the last three U.S. presidents admitted to illicit drug use?)
In the bizarre case of Hingis, we witnessed a player whose sample contained such a trace amount of the cocaine metabolite, she would have passed the drug testing administered by the U.S. military. And it appears this is a repeat. Gasquet already claims that a hair test -- which many analysts consider the most reliable test for cocaine -- will exonerate him. Let the lawsuits begin. (At least, unlike so many players, Gasquet, can presumably afford it.)
Some of the blame here lies with the players. For all their vocal indignation about blue clay courts and mandatory video shoots and a dozen other petty annoyances, where's the outrage over a drug policy that triggers a two-year penalty for recreational drugs? And I blame the tours, too. They essentially signed off on the WADA code and delegated testing to the ITF for economic reasons -- Wait, you'll pick up the tab? Sweet! -- without giving full consideration to the effects.
As this plays out, I worry about Gasquet. As flashy and artistic as his game could be, he always struck me as painfully shy and emotionally immature, someone particularly ill-suited for living in the public eye. Even when he was embedded in the top 10, he never projected self-belief or comfort in his own skin. Tellingly (and poignantly), the goal of his charitable foundation is "to help adolescents who struggle to find their place in society and who suffer from a lack of confidence." Here's hoping he has the strength to fight this. And here's hoping we see him back much sooner than two years from now.
• Compare, for instance, her remarks with
But here's my point: So many of you were outraged over her "lack of class" and "gracelessness," and that's fine. But where's the outrage over players who are afraid of the moment, who buckle under pressure, who fail upward, who can't summon their best when it matters most, the real test of an athlete?
• Wow. And, no, can't say I've ever seen that kind of disparity. I guess you go one of two ways here: Serena brings the good at the majors, or she really goes at something other than full speed the rest of the year. Let me throw this out: Physical durability is not a strong suit here. Perhaps more than any player, she benefits from the extra day between matches that the Slams provide.
• Then it's no fun. It's like
• I think the logic goes like this: While the lack of a French Open title (or, unlike Federer, proficiency on clay) is obviously the glaring omission on Sampras' résumé, it doesn't disqualify him from GOAT consideration. It would be nice to have won the "career Slam," but it's not a prerequisite.
• Good point. You could also add that Venus' loss to
• I think they're talking crazy.
• Again, it's a matter of degrees. Most of us realize that the ride has to end eventually, the pace of winning three Majors a year is ridiculous, and, yes, a tennis player in his mid-20s is well into his sunset years. Speaking for myself, what I didn't predict was that the once-mighty Federer would go seven months (and counting) without a title of any size, that his best shots would fail him in big matches, that he would cede so much ground to Nadal so quickly.
Even discounting Agassi, plenty of players -- particularly those whose games were not of the grinding, speed-based variety a la
• Better that than
• Props, it is.
• From the shameless self-promotion department: We're still a few weeks away from the official publication but the
• Great quote. Regardless.
• The Mississippi men and Texas A&M women finished the 2009 season atop the second annual ITA Attendance Race standings for regular-season home matches. Ole Miss drew 5,550 fans this season at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center and Gillom Tennis Center. The Rebels had a strong finish, fighting off the 2008 Attendance Race champs, Virginia and Georgia, each of which drew more than 5,000. For the second year in a row, the Texas A&M women led the race from start to finish, packing in 4,583 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The total was more than 2,000 more than runner-up Alabama.
• Props to
• One of you noticed that
• Interesting look at
And sisters, from
Have a great week, everyone!