I was educated to believe in due process. Due process is the essence of what I study, do and practice. I treat it like a Commandment – thou shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Thou shall have all the rights of an innocent man, even if those rights produce an irrational result, even when they lead to cumbersome procedures and wasteful delays.
Because ultimately, due process is the one safeguard we have against an angry, irrational mob. It’s what stops the innate desire within us to imprison, kill or harm those who do wrong to our sense of justice. And should we err, at least we err on the side of caution. Due process is totally my Roger Federer.
Umm … what I meant to say was, I’m a fan of due process. Okay?
And yet, Wayne Odesnik’s case never felt like it was about due process. He has already been afforded those rights by the Brisbane Magistrates Court. He was found guilty of importing HGH into Australia, and as we know – possession in itself is a doping offence.
So why is he still playing?
“A provisional suspension without a hearing is not allowed under the tennis anti-doping programme,” ITF Technical Commission anti-doping chief Dr. Stuart Miller told AFP.
“We are conducting an investigation at the moment. We are following the process described in our anti-doping programme, we have no choice but to follow this process, it is in our rules and regulations. We are trying to conduct it as quickly as we can.”
“I can’t control what the players think. We can’t change the rules just for the sack of one instance. We have to follow the rules.”
Here we get to the irrationality of affording someone due process: Yanina Wickmayer, who neither failed nor missed a test, was suspended before she had a chance to appeal, while Wayne Odesnik gets to keep shoving HGH in our faces in Houston, seemingly protected from the full wrath of the anti-doping program.
Never mind, the rules are rules. I can’t argue with them. Or rather, I choose not to. I’m a fan, remember?
But the rules aside, what of Odesnik?
A part of me can’t help by marvel at his sheer audacity in deciding to play in Houston.
He must’ve known that he was in for quite a verbal shellacking both in the media and in the locker room this week. He must’ve known that there is a slim-to-none chance that he’ll get away with this. He must surely know that once he’s banned, he’ll have to hand back the prize money he wins this week. So why keep playing? Why deny those who didn’t have vials of HGH pulled out of their suitcases the chance to earn some points and prize money?
To quote a now infamous cold war exchange – “have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”
Is it defiance? And defiance against what – the concept of fair play?
Is it denial? How does one deny something he’s already admitted to in court – possession of a banned substance?
“I have never used nor taken HGH or any other banned substance in my life. I am fully cooperating with their investigation and I will have no further comment on the matter until it is concluded.”
Total bullshit aside, suppose I am willing to entertain the idea that there is some massive unforeseen twist in the plot here. Suppose I am inclined to play the devil’s advocate: why keep it a secret Wayne? If you do have a get-out-of-jail card, why not play it now? Why hide behind a notorious attorney known for defending sports criminals? Why “release” a statement of denial rather than a “good faith” explanation? Or simply a declaration of regret?
How can I even play the devil’s advocate if I can’t put a human face on that devil? By being evasive, ducking behind his fancy attorney and exploiting the ITF red tape, Odesnik has turned a shady situation into a nasty one, instead of being a man, owning up and apologising?
Deep down, I think he knows that morally it would be the harder path to take, but easy was never an option. Not from the moment he got caught.
To add another dimension to the plot, Sam Querrey has told the Houston Chronicle in reference to playing Odesnik, “I refuse to lose to that guy”.
When asked about Sam’s statement, Odesnik quipped, “we’ll see what happens tomorrow.” And boy, I can’t wait. I’m getting popcorn.
The two has never faced each other on the ATP tour, but Odesnik leads 3-0 in challengers and futures. Querrey, of course, is a much better player these days than back in 06 when the pair last played. He’ll no doubt go into the match as the slight favourite, but as we know – clay is Wayne Odesnik’s most successful surface. More importantly for Samurai Sam, he has to win because he wants to win, because he wants to be in his first clay final and because he is the better player.
Because the alternative – seeking some sort of poetic justice – doesn’t sound like much of a winning strategy.
But what would I know? Since there was no actual coverage of the tournament.
1. Can’t say I’m sorry to have missed this match though: Rochus def Djokus 62 67 64. Can’t even say it surprised me.
Never mind Dubai, Nole’s game has been falling apart since the start of the year. And Oliver Rochus has giant-killing tendencies, almost booted Fed out of Miami one year, if I remember correctly.
“I wasn’t attacking,” Djokovic said. “I was just kind of waiting for him to make the shots, and it wasn’t the right approach. He was making me run a lot, so points were really long. That was exhausting.”
Exhausting? No kidding. Like a cartoon character, Oliver Rochus has legs that run fast enough to leave a cloud of dust hovering waist down. And he now leads Djoko in their career H2H: 3-1.
But at the end of the day, Djoko went “Ivano” on us. 11 double faults, a steady flow of unforced errors and a smashed racquet later, he was booed off court by the Miami crowd, who evidently didn’t appreciate the moody vibes.
At least Ana waited til she was No 1 to start her free fall.
2. Speak of the deviless, the “Ana Ivanovic Prayer Circle” can now breathe a sigh of relief: she won a match – in straight sets too, thus ending a 4 match winning streak.
No actually hold that breath, because she’s due to play Aga next, and it doesn’t get any easier from there on.
3. Nole’s departure signaled the start of the culling in the bottom quarter of the draw:
Blake could not hold off Bellucci, conceding the match 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, while Querrey was quelled by Chardy 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
4. After her early loss to Gisela Dulko last week, I expected Justine to run into some trouble against Demmy. But she was surprisingly solid on serve, wrapping up the win in straight sets 63 62. Easy peasy.
Not that I saw any of it, no thanks to the lack of coverage.
Wayne Odesnik pleaded guilty to importing eight vials containing eight milligrams of performance-enhancing human growth hormone into Australia, ahead of the Brisbane International this year.
Odesnik was fined over AUD$8000 for his conduct by the Brisbane Magistrates Court and the matter has been referred onto ITF, which could decide to ban him for 2 years.
The ATP released a statement to the AP, saying that they were
“extremely disappointed in the behavior of this individual, which is in no way representative of the sport of tennis”.
The ITF had no comments.
“The case has been referred to the tennis anti-doping program, and we don’t have any further comment. It’s just like any other case that gets referred to the anti-doping program, we don’t have a comment on it.”
But Randy did have something to say:
“There’s nothing worse than that [HGH]. That’s just plain cheating, and they should throw him out of tennis. There’s just no room for it.”
Jimmy Blake said he didn’t know Odesnik well, but liked the guy well enough.
“I wouldn’t say shocked is the word, because sports is a business and people are trying to find ways to get ahead and that’s unfortunate. I wish it didn’t happen in sports, but I think we’re all realistic in the fact that it does happen and we do the best possible job of policing. … I hope it doesn’t sully our sport as much. You want to feel like you’re playing on a fair playing field. I’ve always felt we have in the ATP.
“It’s the same thing you hear about the criminal next door – he seemed like a nice guy until they found something going on,” Blake said. “People look for a way to get ahead, and that’s unfortunate.
“It’s something that’s frustrating. You want to feel like you’re playing on a fair playing field. I’m glad they caught him.”
Canas, who retired last week to coach Odesnik, found himself dragged into a drug controversy once more. During Canas’ career, he received a 2 year ban from tennis after testing positive to a masking agent. There were mitigating circumstances found, and he eventually received an undisclosed sum and a shortened ban of 15 months.
“I heard this morning, but really I don’t know anything,” Canas said. “It’s tough for me to speak because I don’t know anything.”
Who know coaching could be so incriminating?
And more importantly, why did it take a national law enforcement authority to find a cheater in the sport of tennis?
Given Andre’s revelations late last year, and the lack of any records indicating that Odesnik tested positive previously for HGH, it’s time the ATP and ITF starts treating the issue of doping more stringently. Incidents like these do much to sully the reputation of the sport and public confidence in fair play.