Grimace and bear it, Serena: Drug testing ain’t going away

Sport

Grimace and bear it, Serena: Drug testing ain’t going away

Sports personalities, like parents who don’t deliver when they’ve promised, will routinely disappoint

Journalist

As a general populace, we need sports to be kept clean and this sanitation project must apply to drugs and illegal betting.
It is probably the only thing we have that is close to drama we can relate to because, frankly, that sham that masquerades as reality television doesn’t cut it.
When it comes to drugs and drug testing, there needs to be a transparency that allows the layperson to understand how the processes work.
When you’re winning tournaments like they’re going out of business or you’re becoming the greatest of your generation, there is the understanding that you’re doing so in a clean manner and you’re not using performance enhancers to gain the unfair advantage.Then again, sports personalities, like parents who don’t deliver when they’ve promised, will routinely disappoint. They have disappointed yesterday, they will do so today and forever more.
Moving to Serena Williams, she has a valid point to complain about being tested more than any other tennis player.
The loaded racial connotations are there, especially with how the younger Williams has been deemed not to have been accorded the same level of respect as her fairer skinned counterparts.
That’s all well and good, but the random and repetitive drug testing comes with the territory of the success she has accumulated over the years.
What we’d really love to know is how often top competitors are tested. This is where the United States Doping Agency (USADA) provides the necessary numerical clarity.
A search on the USADA website reveals that Williams was tested six times in 2016 and wasn’t tested the following year (presumably because she was pregnant and was absent from competition). This year she has been tested five times.
Of the other US-born tennis players in the Women’s Tennis Association Top 20, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe have been tested respectively twice, once, once and twice each this year.Two years ago these players except for Keys were tested five (Venus) and four times each (Vanderweghe and Stephens). Last year Keys, Venus and Stephens were tested thrice while Vanderweghe was tested four times.
Serena does have a point but she needs to understand the prime real estate she finds herself in. Because of the USADA search being limited to US athletes, no information is provided about other tennis players in the world.
The search, though, did reveal which sporting code was deemed most problematic: athletics. Long distance athlete Galen Rupp is one of the most tested athletes in the US. He has been tested eight times this year and was tested 16 times last year. In 2016 Rupp was tested 14 times and the year before  21 times.Former drug cheat Justin Gatlin also isn’t spared the testing rod with nine tests already this year. The 100m world champion was tested 13 times last year, 14 times in 2016 and 15 times the year before. At least there’s a uniform pattern developing. Christian Coleman, the 100m World Championship silver medalist, has been tested five times this year, three times last year and twice in 2016.
These numbers count and, regardless of what Serena says, the sport would rather have her tested regularly and found to be clean. The last thing the world needs is for another sports personality, especially a black woman, to be nailed for a drug infraction.

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