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Novak Djokovic calls for change in doping protocols

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Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki shake hands after playing at Wimbledon in 2012. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki shake hands after playing at Wimbledon in 2012. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has thrown his full support behind his good friend and countryman Viktor Troicki, who is facing an 18-month doping ban after refusing to provide a blood sample at the Monte Carlo Masters in April. Troicki has appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the case is scheduled to be heard next week in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The whole case around Viktor is just very unfair toward him,” Djokovic told reporters in Beijing, where he is competing in the China Open. “I believe that he’s innocent. He hasn’t been charged for being positive on any kind of substance. He was just accused of failing to provide the blood test that day.

“We grew up together,” he said. “He’s one of my best friends. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s innocent.”

In rallying to his friend’s aid, Djokovic seemed dismissive of imposing such a harsh penalty for refusing to provide a requested blood sample.

“I don’t see why they’re keeping him suspended,” he said. “For what? For failing to provide the blood test.”

Troicki said he was ill on the day the blood sample was requested and that the doping control officer excused him from having to provide it. The officer and the ITF disputed his claims. If the ban is upheld, Troicki, 27, would not be eligible to return to the tour until January 2015.

Given the confusion surrounding the circumstances of Troicki’s case, the ITF has already acknowledged plans to implement rule changes in 2014.

“Where a player refuses or fails to provide a sample, the doping control officer should try to offer the player an opportunity to speak to the event supervisor or referee to confirm the player’s responsibilities under the program,” Stuart Miller, the ITF’s anti-doping manager, told CNN.

In a statement released earlier this week, Troicki said Djokovic was the first player to sign a petition demanding reform and a call for clarity for the players.

“So the reason why I was the first one to write a petition for the rule change is to try to spread the awareness to people around that obviously there is a little bit more politics involved,” Djokovic said. “It’s unfortunate that it all comes down to Viktor’s case, because it shouldn’t be like that. He’s not [tested] positive for anything and he’s absolutely innocent.”

Djokovic is so optimistic about Troicki’s appeal that he believes Troicki will be able to rejoin the Serbian Davis Cup team for the final against the Czech Republic in November.

  • Published On Oct 04, 2013
  • 17 comments
    benjamin.econ.hansen
    benjamin.econ.hansen

    Novak and him probably use the same "doctors".  No wonder his going to bat for his friend.  

    SalvatoreMele
    SalvatoreMele

    Novak should just shut up and let Troicki do his own defending. There was no justification for not providing a WADA-sanctioned blood test. What with flimsy excuses such as "I'm afraid of needles", recourse to panic rooms when the anti-doping squad turn up in the morning, and unbelievable (quite literally unbelievable) winning streaks after career threatening (and still unexplained) knee injuries that keep a player out of the game for almost a year, tennis now is reminiscent of the Festina years in cycling. Djokovic wants players to be able to ring Miller (why not Ricci Bitti as well, then?) if they don't feel up to providing urine or blood samples? Please, what is this? School kids calling their school principal father to get them out of an exam because they're "not ready" yet?

    Tennis needs to decide whether it wants to be a real sport, doing everything WADA wants to at least appear to be above suspicion, or whether it wants to be like WWE. If it doesn't want to be a WWE joke, then it needs to get really, really serious about getting with the anti-doping programme.

    RosalieBernard
    RosalieBernard

    When you are an athlete, the rules are quite clear to everyone. You are required to give blood samples in and out of season when you are requested to do so. If an athlete refuses to comply, then he has to suffer the consequences. Giving a blood sample when you are ill is part of the game. Any athlete who refuses to give a blood sample when requested should be considered suspect and should, therefore, suffer the consequences. I wonder if Novak would feel the same about Rafa, Roger and Murray if they tried to evade a blood test. God forbid if Rafa was late for a blood test.

    Troicki's excuse was lame and totally unacceptable. I have no idea whether or not he is guilty, but he was certainly trying to avoid being tested. Thousands of athletes are tested whether they are sick or not, so what makes his situation different? He obviously was not on his deathbed. His best friend Novak should put him on the same gluten free diet that he (Novak) is on. Then we will have two players with increased stamina. Then again, there is no guanrantee it will help him because it did not help Murray. Poor Murray became so weak, he had to return to his regular diet. Bottom-line is..........when you avoid your drug test, it is tantamount to a confession of guilt unless you are being treated by a doctor with medication that could taint your results, but absolutely necessary to your recovery.

    MaxHuygens
    MaxHuygens

    Rafael Nadal = The-Lance-Armstrong-of-Tennis

    Rafael Nadal is the biggest doping-cheat in the history of Tennis, and maybe in all sports.

    His so called "knee-problems" is just a cover up. 

    He dopes himself mainly with blood-doping/EPO and Human Growth Hormon/HGH.

    arunachalam017
    arunachalam017

    Djokovic, being a champion star of repute, should allow the process of law to flow without allowing his weight to his friend.May be Troicki, be innocent.When appeal is pending, none including a star of the calibre of Novok should try to influence the verdict.Adding insult to injury, Djokovic says politics is involved. We find Djokovic appears to be a joker before public to elicit their support to reach Federer-Nadal level but deep down in his heart he has politics in abundance. His on court smashing of rackets, questioning chair when he is losing etc , all these indicate he has another face. Mr. Novok, keep off politics yourself.

    sideshadow
    sideshadow

    As it was in cycling, defend dopers because you are a doper..

    Crisstti
    Crisstti

    @SalvatoreMele Do NOT try to mix up a player refusing to take a test with a player making one of the most spectacular come backs in sports.

    Cris
    Cris

    @MaxHuygens  And of course you know this because you are there with him when he  does this. I'm sure is not only Blood Doping and EPO and HGH... he also adds the blood of virgins, babies and  white poodles  to add to this mix as well! 

    cdns211
    cdns211

    Weak.

    If smashing rackets is counted as three strikes, there are no worthwhile tennis champions. Nearly every single one smashed rackets at one time or other in their career.

    And if that logic was extended to questioning umpires - oh my goodness, except Borg is there a tennis player who has questioned calls?

    This is your argument that somehow Djoker is no good?

    So he is defending his friend. And his argument is that you can't ban someone simply for not giving a sample. The reality is that doping and testing for doping in tennis is still evolving, and there are no clear standards. Everything is being done by seat of pants approach. So Djoker has a point. And you might just be a Novak hater, using this case to bash him. We know the clowns above who insinuated that he is on drugs are clearly Nole haters.

    RogerJohn
    RogerJohn

    @MaxHuygens 

    All the slams he won in the weak era 2003 to 2007 are the result of heavy drug usage.

    Mr Federer should come out clean as Armstrong

    cdns211
    cdns211

    Wait. I was gonna say that about Nadal and his knees and the whole comebacks he has. Or may be I was gonna say that about Roger, I mean who the hell can win 17 slams in today's competition unless he is doping.and of course we all know Serena is doping, it is common knowledge among yahoos of the blog here. And roddick, delPo, Berdych, Azarenka, Isner, It is so obvious they have to be dopists.

    So, yes, the whole tour is on drugs.

    As for the fans, when some one reads comments like yours, is there any doubt they are total dopes?

    arunachalam017
    arunachalam017

    @cdns211 pl dont assume things & level baseless allegations whom u dont like.Rather, accuse the organisers for not screening strictly without rigor. biased comment.