Tommy Haas, German tennis star, 'was poisoned in Moscow'
- The Times
Tommy Haas ‘poison’ case underlines injustice of antidoping code - The Times
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this episode has been our reaction to it. We have been justifiably outraged by the possibility that the health of one of the world’s top tennis players has been jeopardised by toxicological manipulation and we have felt sympathy for Haas as the unwitting victim of the alleged conspiracy.
But here is the thing: how would we have reacted if the villain had sprinkled steroids rather than poison into Haas’s latte? Would we have given him a sympathetic ear when he proclaimed his innocence after a positive test, protesting that his drink must have been spiked? No, we would have hammered him over the head with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code, which states that an athlete is responsible for anything found in his body - however it got there. ...
The frightening thing is how easy it is for spiking to take place. The scope for corruption is obvious to anybody who has used the communal dining areas at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. On many occasions I have been seated near opponents. And it is not as if there is a lack of motive.
The ethical dilemma facing Wada hardly needs stating. The Haas case demonstrates the moral dubiousness of the concept of strict liability. Can you imagine someone telling Haas that ingesting the poison was his fault? But we also know from bitter experience that if the burden of proof were shifted to the doping authorities, drug cheats would be able successfully to contest a positive result: “It was in me drink, guv.”
Given the endemic use of drugs, one cannot fail to sympathise with the hardline position of Wada. Rather like with the Government’s antiterrorism legislation, we probably have to accept that some violations of natural justice are necessary to confront drug taking. The disturbing thing is that we will never know how many of those convicted of drugs offences were victims rather than villains; men and women whose reputations have been destroyed because their guilt was presumed rather than proved.
Withdrawal of Serena Williams creates tangle over winnings
- The Times
WTA rules stipulate that all participants in the season-ending event should stay until the mandatory players’ party on Saturday and that all four semi-finalists must remain until after the final on Sunday. Last year, Maria Sharapova was fined a six-figure sum when she flew back to the US after losing in the last four, but Williams’s fine would be “peanuts” in comparison, a WTA source said.
The unfortunate departure of Williams opened the door for Marion Bartoli, the first time a reserve has been called upon since the introduction of the round-robin format in 2003. Amid much scrambling for rulebooks and only after consultation with the ATP, the WTA confirmed that Williams would be entitled to one third of Bartoli’s prize-money if the Frenchwoman finishes fourth in the yellow group. That would mean about $33,000 (about £15,600) of the $100,000 cheque that goes to the players finishing fourth. Were Bartoli to finish higher, she would keep the full amount and Williams would still receive $33,000. Bartoli also gets $20,000 for being a reserve.
Hernych, ranked 165 in the world, alleged he was offered money [last year] to deliberately lose his first-round match in Moscow against Italian Filippo Volandri, and to throw his opening round in St Petersburg against Evgeny Korolev, a Russian. Hernych won both matches.
..."I was approached in Moscow and St Petersburg. Someone called me from the reception to ask me whether I wanted to sell a match - in other words to lose it intentionally," Hernych said. "He spoke in English but didn't identify himself. When I said 'no', he hung up."
Game must get its chaotic house in order after spate of scandals - Steven Bierley, The Guardian
It may be seen as apposite that with the men's end-of-season Tennis Masters Cup about to begin in Shanghai this Sunday the game is currently almost deafened by Chinese whispers.
...Davydenko's lawyer, Frank Immenga, placed further pressure on De Villiers and the ATP yesterday when he revealed that a Scotland Yard investigator, hired by the ATP, had told him that the Russian holders of nine betting accounts stood to share £725,000 on Davydenko's match in Poland against Argentina's Martín Vassallo. "We have done everything possible," Immenga said. "The question is, what is the ATP doing? They still don't know what happened."
De Villiers and members of the ITF and the Grand Slam Committee are scheduled to meet next week in Shanghai, where Davydenko will be taking part in the Tennis Masters Cup. All parties need to tread extremely carefully, because tennis has never been under such forensic scrutiny.
The organisation had demanded that the records be delivered within seven days. Davydenko, on legal advice, refused to cooperate. He has always denied any match-fixing.
"The ATP sent my client the telephone request when he was playing at the US Open," said Immenga. "He had to provide within seven days records of all telephones owned and used by him."
Immenga's advice was that the ATP's request contravened data protection laws since it would mean offering records of telephones belonging to family and friends. "He is a professional sportsman. He doesn't have his own mobile phone. He has a manager who does this for him," said the lawyer.
...Immenga claimed the ATP's investigators had told him that among the account-holders to have bet against Davydenko in the match against Vassallo were nine people based in Russia. He said the nine stood to make £725,000 from Davydenko's failure, adding that another two account-holders whose location was not known had increased that figure to £3.3m.
...Italy's world No124 Alessio Di Mauro, 30, has received a lengthy ban from tennis for betting on the sport, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa yesterday.
Looking pretty and perky, especially for a 107-year-old, the Davis Cup was back in the 'hood yesterday, standing tall on the Longwood Cricket Club lawn. "Good to be home," I could hear the old crock saying. "Doesn't happen often enough. Last time was '99, right here at Longwood, when Australia - with that divine Pat Rafter - beat the US in the quarterfinals. Kind of sad because I'm a little partial to the US, the land of my birth." Longwood president Tom Doe smiled at the Cup, saying, "We hope to bring it and another US team match to Boston."
The Cup feels like a Townie. A year older than the Red Sox, a lot older than the Bruins, Celtics, or Patriots, the sterling punch bowl went to work in 1900 at Longwood. Three Harvard kids represented the US in the inaugural scuffle for the Cup, shutting out Britain, 3-0. One of them, Dwight Davis from St. Louis, plunked down $1,000 or so at Boston jeweler Shreve, Crump & Low to pay for the trophy that would become the symbol of the world's annual team championship.
Karantantcheva ready to finally return to court - Douglas Robson, USA Today
The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the ban last year, which ends Jan. 1. Speaking by phone Thursday night from her base in Bulgaria, Karatanchvea, who has rarely spoken to the media during the last two years, maintained her innocence and said she believes her she was used to set an example.
..."You have to know that my penalty is the biggest one in women's tennis history," said the Sofia-born player, who besides her suspension was forced to return a record $290,000 in prize money. "I can easily say my case was just to make other players understand that this is wrong. I was set for an example." Pressed if the aborted pregnancy was still her explanation, she said, "Yeah, mostly. I had a tough puberty, really."
...Now 18, Karatantcheva, who has no ranking and says she is starting from "zero zero zero point zero," isn't sure yet where she will resume her career, though most likely it will be in Europe or the USA. It could depend on whether a tournament grants her a wild card... Despite her ban, Karatantcheva has been busily preparing to return. The teenager has been training at a sports facility outside Sofia in Pravets, where she has been hitting mostly with men, including several members of her country's Davis Cup team. She has been living on her own for about a year, she said, and recently signed a deal with a management company in Germany, where she will train the next two months.
...Karatantcheva says none of her peers on the women's tour had contacted her since she was banned. She holds no bitterness and takes it with a grain of salt. "When something like this happens to a player the other players are not the first people who are going to call you
Chakvetadze insisted she did not feel that Williams was handicapped by the knee until 5-4. The taping, lengthwise down both legs, was, however, something of a giveaway. A few hours earlier, her sister, Venus, had flown in to Madrid to accept an award from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Venus Williams had earlier withdrawn from the WTA season-ending championships, having been advised not to play because of dizzy spells she has been having since the U.S. Open. Now the whole family, including their mother, Oracene, may be heading home.
...That is how Jankovic plays her tennis, although there was nothing for her to smile about against Henin. She actually had more chances to get into the match than the score suggests, but Jankovic would not accept any excuses afterward."I just played a bad match," she said. "I never found my rhythm, I never got used to the altitude and the way the balls fly. All I can do is hope I do better in the next match and play like a world No. 3."
Even some advice from her coach, Ricardo Sanchez, at the end of the first set didn't seem to help. Jankovic, expressive as always, reacted with much shaking of the head and gestures of despair during their conversation. Did he offer any good advice? "If he did I couldn't do what he asked," she replied. "I was hopeless." Jankovic might have given herself a better chance to prepare had she not been off in Seville on Tuesday night, playing an exhibition at halftime in the Champions League soccer match between Seville and Real Madrid.
In Paris, the organizers were going to exceptional lengths to keep a lid on the betting furor that has hit the sport. On the opening day, four spectators with laptops on their knees were ejected on the assumption that they had an open line to a betting Web site. Meanwhile, in the locker rooms and lavishly appointed players lounge, some former French players were keeping their ears open on behalf of the French federation for suggestive gossip about betting.
"It is true we have hired some former players to be keep an ear open for us," said the tournament director, Jean-François Caujolle, a former Davis Cup player. "I think there is a bit of paranoia in the game about betting at the moment but we do take it seriously and have been working very closely with the Ministry of Security."
Hence the large men in dark suites who were to be seen, heads tilted, standing very close to players while they ate or played cards.
Williams' calling couldn't come at a better time - Joel Drucker, ESPN
So it was that Venus had her social consciousness raised while attending, of all events, the ESPY Awards -- precisely the kind of glitter-strewn function that's led many to question her fidelity to tennis. Professor Antonio Davila and Aarthi Rajaraman of Spain's IESE University Business School wrote in their case study on the joint effort that Williams was moved by the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage given to two Afghan females who started a soccer program in a post-Taliban Kabul. It was then Williams thought it was this type of program women's players could get involved in to make a difference.
While the 20-year-old didn't ring up numerous aces or service winners, she placed her first serve very well and, as a result, received a number of soft mid-court balls that she feasted on.
"She hurt me in the first set but I got hold of myself and stayed tough and positive which was really good," said Sharapova.
...Sharapova's win also means that Ana Ivanovic will join her in the semis from the Red Group. The winner of their match on Friday will likely face No. 1 Justin Henin, who has already advanced from the Yellow Group and embarrassed a vacuous Marion Bartoli 6-0, 6-0, gaining a pound of flesh for the Frenchwoman's shocking upset of her at Wimbledon.
German federation plays down Haas poison rumour - Reuters
DTB spokesman Oliver Quante said on Thursday that Haas had confirmed he would travel to New York for hair and blood tests to see if there was any truth to the rumour. However, he said that German team doctor Erich Rembeck had noted there was no medical evidence to support the claim. A senior Russian tennis official called the poisoning story "complete rubbish".
"There is no medical reason that justifies further, targeted tests with regard to poisoning," Quante said.
..."I have just spoken with Waske and he denied ever making the accusations," Russian Davis Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev told Reuters from Duesseldorf on Thursday. "Waske said he was told about the possible poison plot by some Russian-speaking German, who lives in Moscow. That guy had heard someone say something about poisoning and started spreading the rumours. It was never really a story for us."
...Earlier, Alexander Katsnelson, general director of the Kremlin Cup who was responsible for organising the Davis Cup semi-final from the Russian side, said it was odd that the story had come out more than a month after the match. "We don't take them (poison rumours) seriously. This is just usual stuff coming from a guy who lost," he told Reuters. "It would not have made sense for the Russians to poison Haas because he was Germany's weakest player in the tie."
Italian tennis federation checking report that Di Mauro bet on matches - AP
Di Mauro's coach, Fabio Rizzo, told Gazzetta dello Sport that Di Mauro was an avid online gambler but never bet on his own matches or cheated.
"He didn't know about the ban on players betting on their own sport and he also foolishly bet on tennis," Rizzo was quoted as saying. "But not on his own matches, and not even on tournaments he played in.
"And we're talking about very small figures — €10-€15 (US$15-US$22) at a time that Alessio bet on an online site, like many colleagues," Rizzo added. "He's always had a passion for betting on sports, mostly soccer.
"We didn't know much about betting rules and we committed an error, but Alessio never cheated."
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