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Wickmayer Suspended for One Year

Posted by gauloises1 on November 6, 2009

Remember when I blogged that Wicky and compatriot Xavier Malisse had been summoned to an anti-doping hearing? Wickmayer had broken the ‘whereabouts’ rule three times in eighteen months and apparently the Belgians are in the mood to throw the book. She has been banned for one year.

yanina wickmayer

Malisse has also been handed a one-year ban. Wickmayer has denied any wrongdoing and will appeal the decision.

I just heard about this and I’m not the best at forming considered opinions on these things. But this seems so draconian. A year’s suspension, not for failing a drug test, not for even missing a drug test. Just for … carelessness? I don’t know. What do you think?

Anyway, reportedly the suspension is effective immediately, but she’s still on the Bali OOP, with the ITF saying they haven’t received official notification of the suspension and the WTA refusing to comment. Presumably alternate Vera Dushevina will take her place if she can’t play.


11 Responses to “Wickmayer Suspended for One Year”

  1. Sapphisto said

    I think this sucks the big one.

    I thought I had read somewhere that the rule was three strikes in a one year period – not 18 mos? And anyway, it’s bloody ridiculous that players have to report their whereabouts to WADA like little schoolkids. These wankers can show up on their doorsteps at any hour of the day or night – whether they’re in competition or not! – and demand they pee in a cup. I’m still thinking of MAndy’s bitchvent about the guy who woke him up, dragged him out of bed, and insisted on following him into the bathroom to watch him take a leak.

    Isn’t it enough that athletes can be tested at any time – do they have to live in a virtual police state as well, with Big Brother watching? I think they’re entitled to a little privacy off the court. WADA’s policies make me think of wearing an ankle security band, part-time. If they’ve never had any positive tests or questionable results, there’s no reason to treat them like criminals. If they have tests that show trace amounts – a la Reeshie or even (god forbid) Martina the younger – where clearly the athlete is not showing enough drug in their system to indicate actual usage, then yeah, watch them like a hawk for the same period they would have been suspended for an actual offence. If they have an honest to god positive result with no signs of tampering – can their asses. But if they’ve always been clean – leave them the hell alone!

    Wickmayer is getting a very raw deal. And I can’t help but wonder if it would have been this raw BEFORE Dear Andre’s publicity stunt. (Don’t get me started on that.)

  2. Keldermans said

    The hardest about all is that the prosecutor did not asked for a suspension.

    The prosecutor only wanted a mild administarive sanction and a fine for both Wickmayer and Malisse.

  3. lira vega said

    I generally don’t have a problem with the way system is set up. Yeah, it’s a bit of a hassle for players, but I’m not sure how can it be avoided? Testing only during the competition just wont cut it, so I’m kinda in the ‘suck it up, you divas’ camp. Those same rules apply for every athlete in every Olympic sport out there and while it’s prolly easier for most of them to report where they’ll be for the upcoming three months than it is for tennis players considering all the traveling, there’s always the option of updating their whereabouts whenever they want to do it.

    Wickmayer’s case is a bit different though, cuz apparently it wasn’t just her negligence, but some problem with the system not working as well(?). I’ve yet to see it fully explained anywhere, so it’s tough to comment, but if her complaints are justified, she could get decision overruled. Fingers crossed…

  4. Vince Munkers said

    The case in Belgium is very strange…

    One region ‘Flanders’ (northern part) has implemented the WADA system far more strict then the ITF requires.
    ITF list is based on Top50 WTA players based on the end of previous seasen.

    Yet the northern region decided to put every sporter on the list.

    The other strange thing is that the Walloon region (southern part of Belgium) has not implemented the WADA rules at all. So sporters in that reagion have no hassel with the whereabouts system

    This makes it even more painfull,

    -Yanina was no top 50 player at end of 2008 so not obliged by ITF-rules

    -If Yanina would have lived in the southern part of the country she would not have been punished.

  5. Sus Reyne said

    While I don’t quibble with the whereabouts rules or the out of competition testing, the system as implemented by the Flemish region leaves a lot of questions to be answered:

    – it is far stricter than what ITF agreed with WADA, for tennis just the Top-50 at the end of last season, which means both Wickmayer and Malisse shouldn’t have to meet these requirements (yet)

    – the Flemish tribunal bases it’s ruling on the new internal rules of the Belgian Tennis Federation introducing the whereabouts requirements … but these were only agreed half september, and all the alleged infringements of these players date from last spring. How can a tribunal base judgements on laws that weren’t introduced yet at the time of the infractions ? Even if the players were alreading starting to use the system before the legal framework was finished…

    – in the case of Wickmayer, she obtained the login information later than expected due to being on tour (for 7 weeks) to various WTA tournaments, and even then wasn’t able to login into the system because of a pasword problem. This was reported to the authorities, even a WADA official couldn’t login when trying to help her, and this took two weeks (including system reset and new password) to resolve. Counted as two misses to provide her whereabouts in time. Meanwhile, the administration had send her a registered letter to warn her about ‘failure to comply’ with the new whereabout system, but this couldn’t be delivered because she was on tour… which was quite public knowledge because of the coverage in the media. Still, this undelivered letter now also counts as a missed providing of her whereabouts. After this troublesome start of her introduction to the new whereabouts system, she seems to have filled it in by the book, no more complaints, so reason enough not to suspect foul play

    – Wickmayer has been tested several times this year out of competition, never any problem with taking the tests (even when the doctor arrived far later than when she was expected to be available) or the results of the tests.

    – in a press conference after this verdict, some other athletes also spoke about their experiences with the new whereabouts controlling, e.g. a boxer didn’t receive a registered letter from the controlling body in time because they send it to his old address, and when his manager tried to fill in the whereabout data online for him, the system wasn’t available; phoning to the controlling body confirmed the technical problem, when the system went online again the data was filled in, but apparently that was 15 minutes too late hence also a ‘missed notification’ of his whereabouts. The boxer is expected to fight for a world championship title in December, but may now also be banned for a year…

    – the Drug Abuse Tribunal is a new institution, in fact this is the very first case they ruled. But sentiment in Belgium is that they should only base verdicts on facts after the internal rules of the sports federations were adapted and the sportsmen properly advised on how the system works. And of course, dismiss facts where problems with their own web site prohibited sportsmen to notify the authorities in time !

    – also bizar is that this Tribunal is the only instance able to make a verdict, no provisions for any appeal, not even about procedural matters! From reactions by parlementarians, this may change now, though probably too late for Wickmayer and Malisse.

    It’s though to see promising careers jeopardised over administrative problems, largely out of players reach, without any doping test failed or even missed. Nor any appeal possible, except (maybe) a foreign one, TAS in Geneve.

  6. lira vega said

    That’s interesting about Walloons not having implemented WADA codex yet. I thought it was obligatory for all Olympic sports and countries that want to compete there, but quick google search tells me if all countries/sports that didn’t implement WADA rules were suspended from Beijing Olympics (like WADA rulebook says they should be) that would mean 2000 athletes less in competition, so apparently they decided to turn a blind eye to it? Weird…Though, it doesn’t really excuse Nina in any way, methinks.

    What most definitely does is if she was late to file even just one of those reports because of fucked up system. That’s just ridiculous…Surely she must win the appeal at CAS/TAS if that was the case…Thanks for posting all that info, Vince Munkers and Sus Reyne!

  7. lira vega said

    Err, problem with the appeal is that it seems it would take several months for the it to be decided or Wickmayer would have to hope for CAS to suspend the ruling, something they’ve never done before. Sigh…

  8. Cindy said

    The downside of CAS – TAS is the high cost.

    Belgium has about 750 pro-athletes, yet estimation by a well respected anti-doping docter (Mr. Chris Goossens) revaels that about 600 atletes from those pro-athletes can not pay the cost of procedure and the laywer bills

    Lets hope for Nina that her sponsers will stay to support here during these dark days.

    The case for Malisse will be far worse, because his return after many injuries were so costly that i can imagine that there will be less funding left.

  9. AmyLu said

    So the more I read about this situation, the more draconian I find the penalties. I taught about groups and organizations in my Intro Soc class on Thursday night, and I think this situation perfectly exemplifies one of the major dysfunctions of a bureaucracy: where the rules take precedence over all else. Anyone have an address for WADA? I’d love to send them a copy of Max Weber’s writings on bureaucracy.

    I just feel so badly for both players. I very much want tennis to be a clean sport, but I think a year suspension for failing to report whereabouts (and especially when the system itself seems to have failed) is just ridiculous.

    • mina said

      squee! bureaucracy and Weber… in one post! the rigidity (and counter productivity) of a bureaucratic rule never ceases to amaze me. i suppose rules are made to be followed but the rules (and penalties) they’ve set are just insane.

  10. Vince Munkers said

    Latest news:

    Yanina will appeal to the ridiculous punishment.

    She seems very motivated to come back at toplevel tennis.
    Lets hope that her mindset and her motivation will stay during the whole process.
    Yet we all know thats she’s a fighter!

    For Malisse there isn’t much more info, besides the fact that he is considering to quit…
    A nice thing to know: belgian tennis players weared a shirt with his photo as protest during the belgian masters.

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