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Beyond the Baseline

Novak Djokovic rips ITF and WADA for handling of Viktor Troicki doping case

(Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Djokovic called the incident surrounding Troicki's ban a "total injustice" and said he's now skeptical of tennis' anti-doping system. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

LONDON -- After defeating Roger Federer for the second time in three days, you would think Novak Djokovic's post-match comments would be dominated by discussion of the intense three-set match. But on a day when the Court of Arbitration of Sport issued its ruling on his good friend Viktor Troicki's 18-month doping ban for skipping a blood test, Djokovic had some things to get off his chest.

The ruling, which came down Tuesday morning, reduced Troicki's ban from 18 months to 12 months commencing on July 15, 2013. The reduction clearly wasn't what Troicki or his supporters were expecting. Troicki, 27, said his career was effectively over.

"[T]his decision puts an end to my dreams of being a top player, of reaching the ATP finals and fighting against the best in the world," he said in a statement. "I worked my entire life for it, and it has been taken away from me in one afternoon by a doctor I didn’t know."

Asked for his thoughts on the decision, Djokovic came prepared with a written statement in his post-match interview. He proceeded to reel off an impassioned, 1,043-word monologue acknowledging Troicki's fault but blasting the ITF and WADA for their handling of the situation.

"I think it's just not bad news for him," Djokovic said. "It proves again that this system of WADA and anti‑doping agency does not work. Why am I saying that?  Because, first of all, as a tennis pro, our job is to play tennis and respect all the rules and know all the rules of our sport. But when you are randomly selected to go and provide the test, blood test or urine test, the representatives of WADA, anti‑doping agency who are there in the tournament, are supposed to give you the clear indications and explain you the rules and regulations and what the severe consequences or penalties that you might undertake or you might have if you fail to provide the test. The representative, she didn't do that in his case."

Troicki claims he was ill on the day the blood test was requested during the Monte Carlo Masters in April and he asked the doping control officer if he could skip the test that day. He claims that the DCO told him he could be excused from the test. The DCO claimed she never gave him such assurances and the independent tribunal ruled in the ITF's favor. On appeal, CAS found Troicki committed an anti-doping violation but there was no significant fault and reduced his ban by six months. That wasn't enough according to Djokovic.

"[The DCO] did not clearly present him all the severe consequences that he will have if he avoids [the test]," he said. "She told him that he needs to write a report and that he will be just fine. And because of her negligence and because of her unprofessionalism, he is now off the tour for one year.  And now it makes me nervous as a player to do any kind of test."

Djokovic said the whole incident, which he called a "total injustice," left him completely cynical about tennis' anti-doping system.

"I don't have trust in them anymore," he said. "I don't have trust in what's going on. I don't know if tomorrow the representative, the DCOs who are representatives of IDTM and WADA there at the tournaments, because of their unprofessionalism, because of their negligence, because of their inability to explain the rules in a proper way, I don't know if they're going to misplace the test that I have or anything worse than that. For me, the whole procedure of the court case is totally against the player and player's rights first of all."

You can read Djokovic's entire statement below:

"First of all, Viktor is a very good friend of mine.  I know him since I was eight years old.  I've been involved very much in this case of his.  I've been talking to him.  I've been talking to his agent.  Obviously I'm following the scenario that was going on in last five months. It's a very bad news that we got for him, and for me, for all of us who are close to him."

"But I think it's just not bad news for him, it proves again that this system of WADA and anti‑doping agency does not work.  Why am I saying that?  Because, first of all, as a tennis pro, our job is to play tennis and respect all the rules and know all the rules of our sport."

"But when you are randomly selected to go and provide the test, blood test or urine test, the representatives of WADA, anti‑doping agency who are there in the tournament, are supposed to give you the clear indications and explain you the rules and regulations and what the severe consequences or penalties that you might undertake or you might have if you fail to provide the test. The representative, she didn't do that in his case."

"So first of all he's not positive on any banned substance.  I'm not saying that it's completely not his fault, but the way it was is that he had a medical pass where he was fainting, if he feels bad when he provides the blood test.  He asked if it's possible to avoid providing blood test that day and he would come the next day ‑ not because he wanted to hide anything, he just felt bad."

"She did not clearly present him all the severe consequences that he will have if he avoids that.  She told him that he needs to write a report and that he will be just fine. And because of her negligence and because of her unprofessionalism, he is now off the tour for one year.  And now it makes me nervous as a player, you know, to do any kind of test."

"And I heard Andy Murray also said that he wants to take some actions into making sure that he has the independent laboratory also following his tests that he provides to WADA and IDTM. That says enough."

"I don't have trust in them anymore. I don't have trust in what's going on. I don't know if tomorrow the representative, the DCOs who are representatives of IDTM and WADA there at the tournaments, because of their unprofessionalism, because of their negligence, because of there inability to explain the rules in a proper way, I don't know if they're going to misplace the test that I have or anything worse than that. For me, the whole procedure of the court case is totally against the player and player's rights first of all."

"I don't know how much you know, but once you're accused, you have to go to the court that is in London actually.  It's called International Anti‑Doping Tribunal, which is financed directly from IDTM, from WADA. Whatever the situation you are in, and looking at the history, there is no one player that won the court case in that particular court."

"So, first of all, you're going to lose the time, as it happened in [Marin] Cilic's case.  Actually I talked with him last week.  It was proven in the end, because they found apparently something that he was positive on, the banned substance, then in the end it turns out they didn't find it in the blood. So what happened?  Who is going to be responsible for that?  Whose duty is going to be that he lost four or five months of points, money, everything.  That is his job, that is his life.  Who is going to be answering for that?"

"Now in Viktor's case, he's going to be sanctioned until July next year, and this lady, the DCO, the representative that was there that day, she's going to come back tomorrow for the job.  Nobody is going to answer for that.  Only him.  Why?"

"In the official media announcement, you can see, I don't know if you read it, that the tribunal in Lausanne, which is where Viktor appealed for this court case, actually stated that it was a huge misunderstanding and that they accuse ‑‑ I'm going to read it, sorry, I don't want to miss something.  Sorry, but for me this is total injustice.  It's just incredible."

"So the tribunal in Lausanne is stating that the rules are not good because DCO, the representative, should be obliged to call some ATP staff member in cases like this, and they suggest that the rules should change. I mean, after this kind of announcement and after this particular situation, the only one who is suffering here is the player. ATP, who is supposed to be an association of players of tennis professionals, who is supposed to be the governing body, the association that stands behind the players, are not going to answer on this announcement, are not going to do anything for Viktor."

"So Viktor is there by himself.  Tomorrow can be anybody else.  Cilic was there in this situation.  Tomorrow I don't know who, just because of the negligence and unprofessionalism of these representatives, of so‑called professionals, you know. For me this is just another big reason, another example that there are some certain things that have to be changed definitely."

"I mean, also because I'm emotionally, you know, connected to Viktor because I have a long history with him and friendship since we were nine years old, but also from my point of view looking at the whole scenario that happened, it doesn't give me any trust in that, in them, in the whole procedure, in the whole rules, in anything."

"That's it.  That's my statement.  Sorry, but that's what I had to do.  Not just because of him, but because of the sake of the players and because of the sake of the sport.  It's just ridiculous."

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