Nov 13, 2009

How e-mail & communication breakdown cost Yanina Wickmayer her future

Here's the transcript from Yanina Wickmayer's presser today at the Koning Boudewijn Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.

Let's hear her side of the story...


First of all, I would like to thank everyone who is present here today. It is extremely important for me to be able to tell my story.

- November and December 2008, I was training in Switzerland.

- In January 2009, I was in Australia to prepare myself for the Australian Open.

- Because of this, all of the letters that were sent to my house that had to be signed for, I was unable to receive and were returned to sender.

- On February 18, 2009 I went online and Googled the general email address of the doping agency, and sent them and email to ask for information as I had heard several players talk about the new anti doping program.

- On February 19, 2009, I received an email back, which included a login and did not include any information about the one failed update I had already missed, without knowing that this system even exists, even though all the letters that I had to sign for upon receipt and were sent back to the Flemish Anti-Doping Agency, meaning that they did know that I never received them.

- After this email, I left for the United States for 7 weeks and have tried numerous times to sign on to the system with the login details that they provided to me, which failed time after time.

- In early April, I then sent an email myself again to notify them that I could not get into the system.

- After the weekend, their reply to me was simply that there was a problem with my login and that they have reset this so I can log in with a new login into the system. There was no indication in this email that I now had already had two failures to update behind my name, even though I had not even logged into the system once.

- Following their reply to me and using the new login information, I mistakenly completed the online whereabouts details wrong, as I did not know that you could not select the option ‘competition’ and instead had to select the option “permanent residence”, which I had no idea about.

- In June, I then called Mr. De Bruyn myself to ask him information as to how top complete the wherabouts correctly. I got the information that day for the first. This conversation took place after my 3rd missed update had already happened, even though I had not received any word about this.

- From that day on, my WADA has always been updated correctly and I have been tested
out of competition at home.

- At the end of June it was that the Belgian Tennis Federation was notified about the situation. They notified my father about this by email.

Consequences for my career:

- As a result of this, I am being punished extremely hard. I will lose my ranking and will have to start again from 0. I will fight back but there is nothing that guarantees me that I will return to the same ranking - Throughout the year, I have had numerous doping test, and I have never failed or refused one.

- I have never had any education or information about it.

- The system is needed and I find it a good idea but it should happen in a more personal manner.

- Tennis players travel a lot so these updates are sometimes very difficult to do.

We are going to appeal this ruling and will do everything we can to get it overturned. If this decision is not overturned and I am not able to compete for a year, I am going to do everything I can to be back at the end of the year even stronger. I am a fighter and won’t give up.

I would also like to thank my team, my fans, and anyone else who have supported me so intensely. Words can not explain how much that support means to me.

So, what was reported by AP wasn't entirely accurate.

In fact, Wickmayer is determined to appeal and fight to clear her name.

Thanks to IMG for the transcript.

Nov 12, 2009

Teary Yanina Wickmayer refuses to talk about doping ban appeal

A teary Yanina Wickmayer held a presser today saying that she has never tested positive for drugs.

The Belgian was suspended last week by the ITF for failing three times to report her whereabouts for testing.

She complained that tennis and anti-doping authorities did nothing to educate her about how to report her whereabouts online as required by international anti-doping rules.

However, it was unsure whether Wickmayer will appeal her one-year ban or accept the ruling.

She added on saying that the rulemakers “are not really conscious of what this means for my future.”

Updates: Based on the original transcript from Wickmayer presser, she will indeed make an appeal and fight to clear her name. The report by AP here is not entirely accurate.

(Via AP)

Marat Safin bids farewell to tennis in Paris‎

Marat Safin calls it a career yesterday, receiving a huge ovation from the fans after a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 defeat to Juan Martin del Potro in the second round of the Paris Masters.

It was the former world no.1's last match on the men's tour.

He may be famous for his furious, racket-throwing rants, but Safin would rather be remembered for the hard work he put in during a 12-year career.
“A lot of people there really thought that I’m not a really hard worker,” Safin, a two-time Grand Slam winner, said.

“But you can ask all my coaches how I dedicated myself to tennis. They will tell you it’s completely the opposite of what a lot of people think.”

During a modest ceremony where he received a special trophy, Safin said, “Today I will put all my memories, all my wins and losses in a small box."

“Today a door is closed, hopefully another one will open.”

Safin remained unclear about his projects for the future.
“Sportsmen are great when they are sportsmen,” Safin said.

“Afterwards, it’s a little bit tough for them. The transition from being a tennis player to do something else is difficult. And if time passes too much, you’re just an ex-tennis player.”
Here's a tribute video for Safin. You are one in millions and we will definitely miss you!

(Via AP)

Nov 11, 2009

Serena Williams is Glamorous

Serena Williams was named as one of Glamour magazine's 2009 Women of the Year.

At the star-studded event,
Emmy award-winning talk show host, Tyra Banks, presented Serena Williams, with her award.

During her speech, she encouraged the women in the crowd, "You can do whatever you want to do. The most important belief is self-belief."

Among the women honoured were Rihanna, Maria Shriver, Stella McCartney, First Lady Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Laura Ling, Euna Lee, Maya Angelou, Jane Aronson, Marissa Mayer, Amy Poehler and Susan Rice.

Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova to kick off New Year at Hua Hin exhibition

BEC-Tero Entertainment informed us that Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams will be participating in the Centennial Invitation in Hua Hin on January 2, 2010 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Hua Hin and usher in the New Year at the same time.

It was reported that more than 20 million baht will be spent to stage the exhibition match.

A temporary court with a capacity to seat 4,000 people at the Hua Hin Centennial Park.

After their singles match, Sharapova and Williams will combine with local stars Paradorn Srichaphan and Danai Udomchoke for a set of mixed doubles.

The players are expected to celebrate their New Year’s Eve at the new InterContinental Resort.

Tickets for the Centennial Invitation go on sale at all Thaiticketmajor outlets and Major Hua Hin from November 21 onwards.

Richard Gasquet's fate to be decided in December

Richard Gasquet arrived for a hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Frenchman was tested positive for cocaine during the Miami Masters in March and was provisionally suspended in May before serving a two and a half month retroactive ban.

Gasquet claimed that the cocaine entered his system only when he kissed a young woman in a Miami nightclub.

During the seven-hour hearing, Gasquet was given chance to speak.

The verdict is expected in early December.

Gasquet, who once peaked at no. 7 and currently ranked at no. 53, declined to speak as he left the court.

(Images by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Marat Safin: Andre Agassi should return titles & money

In an interview with L'Equipe, Marat Safin openly criticised Andre Agassi and suggested that he should give back his tennis titles after confessing he tested positive for a banned substance during his career and lied about it to the ATP.

Agassi admitted in his autobiography "Open" that he used crystal meth in 1997 and failed a drug test, a result he says was thrown out after he lied by saying he "unwittingly" took the substance.
"I'm not defending the ATP, but what he said put it in a delicate position," Safin said.

"The ATP allowed him to win a lot of tournaments, a lot of money. It kept his secret. Why does he need to be so cruel with it?"

"If he is as fair play as he says he is, he has to go to the end," Safin said.

"You know, the ATP has a bank account and he can give the money back if he wants."
Safin, who will retire after this week's Paris Masters, said he doesn't have any intention to write his own autobiography when his career will be over.
"Me, I don't need money," he said.

"The question is: Why did he do this? What is done is done. Does he hope to sell more books? It's absolutely stupid."
(Via AP)

Maria Sharapova is officially dating LA Lakers' Sasha Vujacic

So, Maria Sharapova is officially done with Charlie Ebersol and now dating LA Lakers struggling backup guard Sasha Vujacic.

Speculation started after CNBC's Darren Rovell tweeted that "the two were seen cuddling up" during a U2 concert at the Rose Bowl.

Later Sharapova was spotted holding hands with her Serbian boyfriend (who was born in Slovenia), something which she has never done in public before. Huge PR boost for Vujacic!

Now that Sashapova has taken over the role from Klamar (Khloe Kardashian + LA Lakers Lamar Odom), most likely we'll see them often in gossip columns from now on.

(Image from Women's Tennis Blog via Forty Deuce)

Nov 9, 2009

Read Andre Agassi like an "Open" book

Let's give credit to the cover designer - the messed-up look helps sell the book.

Honestly, I haven't get hold of Andre Agassi's latest controversial memoir "Open: An Autobiography" yet, but anyone would know this is a book you don't want to miss whether you're a tennis fan or not.

Here are some of the interesting facts that you can find in that autobiography:

On Substance Abuse: Agassi recounts how, when he was a kid, his father would give him Excedrin before matches because it contained caffeine.

Agassi also writes how his father gave him what Agassi believes to be speed. At various points of the book he also mentioned about using marijuana and alcohol.

Agassi called crystal meth "a performance inhibitor" and said, "Everything I earned on the tennis court, I actually had to probably earn more than I needed to, because of many of the things I did to myself."

Agassi however denied he ever took performance-enhancing substances as a professional.

On Pete Sampras: Agassi says Sampras "sounds more robotic than" a parrot. At his depths, Agassi thinks: "I envy Pete's dullness. I wish I could emulate his spectacular lack of inspiration, and his peculiar lack of need for inspiration." Agassi tells of betting coach Brad Gilbert about how much Sampras tipped a parking valet; they ask the valet, who says $1; Agassi's conclusion: "We could not be more different, Pete and I."

On Michael Chang: "He thanks God - credits God - for the win, which offends me. That God should take sides in a tennis match, that God should side against me, that God should be in Chang's box, feels ludicrous and insulting. I beat Chang and savor every blasphemous stroke." When Chang wins the 1989 French Open, Agassi thinks, "I feel sickened. How could Chang, of all people, have won a slam before me?"

On other opponents: Agassi writes about holding grudges against Becker (who Agassi says blew kisses at Shields during a match), Jim Courier, Thomas Muster, Yevgeni Kafelnikov, Jeff Tarango (who Agassi says cheated during a match between them when Agassi was 8).

On "tanking": Agassi says he lost on purpose against Chang in the Australian Open semifinals one year so he wouldn't have to face Becker in the final, writing: "It's almost harder than winning. You have to lose in such a way that the crowd can't tell." He also says of sports writers: "They never get it right. When I tank, they say I'm not good enough; when I'm not good enough, they say I tank."

On his fake hair: Of the 1990 French Open final, Agassi writes, "Warming up before the match, I pray. Not for a win, but for my hairpiece to stay on."

On the 1999 French Open final, which he won to complete a career Grand Slam: "I've already obsessed about this tournament for the last 10 years. I can't bear the idea of obsessing about it for another eighty. ... If I don't win this thing right now, I'll never be happy, truly happy, again."

To purchase the book, you can order from Amazon (click on the link below) or go to your nearest book store.

(Via AP)

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