Thursday, November 05, 2009


US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer and her Belgian compatriot Xavier Malisse were on Thursday handed one-year bans for falling foul of doping regulations, the Belga news agency reported.

Wickmayer, the world number 18, was suspended by the Flemish Doping Tribunal (VDT) for failing to fulfil [sic] the controversial "whereabouts rule" while Malisse was also punished for missing a drugs test.

Both players can appeal their suspensions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The suspension was announced despite 20-year-old Wickmayer currently playing in the Tournament of Champions event in Bali where on Friday she would be attempting to reach the semi-finals.

Wickmayer was accused of failing on three occasions to fulfil [sic] the ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System) under which athletes are obliged to tell national anti-doping authorities where they will be at a chosen hour each day for a three-month period.

The sanctions came as a surprise - only last month, it was expected that the two players would escape with just a reprimand.

Malisse, 29, is currently 95 in the world, having been at 19 in 2002. He has won three titles in his career.

Color me curious that two Belgian players who haven't even tested positive for anything are banned for a year by a Flemish Doping Tribunal from the sport simply for not reporting whereabouts or missing a test mere weeks before another controversial Belgian player returns to the tour.

Can't say I'm a fan of either player -- didn't even know Malisse was still playing -- but this seems like overkill.

Actually, I think it's outrageous.

Wickmayer, who's contesting that other event that has no business on the WTA calendar, said she would immediately appeal.


Karen said...

This is going to be the affects of the Agassi revelations. The powers that be are now going to want to appear to be doing something. Frankly, I am surprised when I read elsewhere that no further action was going to be taken against her after she failed to report her whereabouts on 3 separate occassions. Frankly speaking the rules are the rules, however, in this case, I think they are going a bit overboard in imposing a 1 year ban. My goodness, this girl was being touted as having a chance at next year's Australian Open. Hmm I will be interested to see how others view this.

cms said...

They have Agassi to thank. It's unfortunate that WADA officials cannot act like adults.

Craig Hickman said...

I'm not suggesting a player who doesn't report her whereabouts on three separate occasions shouldn't be reprimanded.

But a one-year suspension, by a Belgian tribunal (not WADA?), is ridiculous.

Pamela said...

I'm not outraged.

I think it's careless and suspicious that she misses this three times. I think it's a little odd that she's given the same punishment as someone who actually missed a doping test.

Rules are rules, even if I think they are a bit too invasive.

I don't know, what I do find funny (not ha ha) in all of this is that it was two Belgians. If I had the patience to be a conspiracy theorist ... another player would come to mind.

lilac said...

Why did she not report THREE times? C'mon Wickmayer. The rules may be stupid, but you can't just break them -- three times!! Label me suspicious.

Karen said...

I understand from another message board that 60 Minutes interview with Agassi will be must see tv. I understand that he broke down on the show. Really. Makes you wonder just how much angst this fellow had stored up for all these years. Or how much angst he had to give up for US$5M. Oh Karen, dont be so cynical.

Savannah said...

No sympathy for Wickmayer. Not when every player from Spain was hauled out of bed for drug testing. Not when Andy Murray said they showed up at his residence at the crack of dawn. Everyone bitches but they go along with it because it's the rules of the game. Her excuse is just like the "I kissed a girl" excuse that just went around.

Maybe it is the AA affect, I don't know. I do know that if she followed the rules she wouldn't be in this situation.

Matt said...

Why so much dislike for Wickmayer?? Give the girl a break - she's had a shocking life. And for the record, she's stick thin. Hardly looks like she's guilty of a doping offence.

Aziz said...

While she might be at fault for failing to report her whereabouts 3 times, I can't help but to think that a year ban is too much.

Yes, rules are rules but it doesn't mean rules are always intact and without flaws. Banning her from a Grand Slam event or two might be punishing enough but a year?

Give that poor girl a break. Everyone knows she had an incredible run in the US Open last September and boy,it's not like she is tested positive for meth or something.

jo said...

This has happened before in other sports - I don't think it's a reaction to the Agassi stuff at all. Olympic 400m Champion Christine Ohuruogu was banned for a year (2006-7) for missing 3 tests, she never tested positive either. With her, the rules had recently changed, no-one knew what the consequences would be for missing 3 tests in 2 years, and like Wickmayer, she had valid reasons for how it had happened.
I think it's easier for things to get missed with the tennis players though, as they are travelling so much.

Craig Hickman said...

jo, Wickmayer didn't miss 3 doping tests. She didn't report her whereabouts on 3 occasions. That's a difference with a distinction.

And I don't now exactly how it works, but if the anti-doping apparatus really wanted to find Wickmayer and test her, even if she never reported her whereabouts, they would find a way to find her and do the test.

Reprimand her for not following the rules. Fine. But the length of her suspension in excessive.

jo said...

craig, I totally agree, the punishment is disproportionate. Didn't mean to suggest otherwise. The testers seem to feel it's up to the sportsperson to take all of the responsibility onto themselves and don't make any effort to help. I've read about people missing tests because they were 5 minutes late and the testers just left. Ridiculous. Love your blogs by the way.

Pamela said...

Who has dislike for Wickmayer?

Most don't even know who she is, aside from us tennis nerds. Rules are rules, she knew what they were and didn't comply. I find it hard to believe that she was warned, and still managed to not let them know 3 times.

No one is accusing her of doping. But the problem is with selective punishment. While I agree the punishment is excessive - that's a different argument. Why should she get a pass for breaking the rules she was fully aware of because the punishment is too harsh, although expressly written? She got the minimum of 1 year.

A lot of players have complained about the rule and it's intrusiveness. They were blown off, and now that someone has slipped up and didn't follow them .. NOW it's wrong?

3 months seems more suitable since she didn't actually fail a test or even not show up for one.

Karen said...

Pete Bodo had a great analogy on this whole thing. He states that if people like Federer and Serena Williams can meet the reporting requirements (and those 2 are really busy), why can not someone like Wicky do the reporting as well. Even if you are playing tournaments, dont you have someone who manages your schedule. I am sure most players dont just get up one morning and say, hey I am so going to Timbuktu to play that tournament, without first doing some homework prior to this. Some players plan their schedule months in advance (Federer anyone) and whilst it is subject to change it allows the player to actually have an idea as to where he/she is going to be from one month to the next. Perhaps Federer is a bad example, but come on, due has twins etc., and can still plan his schedule 2 months before the season begins.