Troicki banned for 18 months for missing drug test

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Viktor Troicki is facing an 18 month ban for the sport after committing an anti-doping violation under Article 2.3 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit to sample collection). It happened during the Monte Carlo Masters after his loss to Jarkko Nieminen, when he was requested to give urine and blood samples. Troicki claimed he was told he would be able to skip the latter by the Doping Control Officer (DCO) without punishment but the validity of this claim is now in question.

After his loss to Tommy Robredo in Umag, he used his post match press conference to shed some light on the situation.

Can you explain what actually happened?

I gave the urine samples and told the doctor I was feeling really bad and I believed that drawing blood would make me feel even worse. I always feel awful when I need to draw blood and that day I was scared I would end up in hospital.

The doctor in charge of the testing told me that I looked very pale and ill, and that I could skip the test if I wrote an explanation letter to ITF about it. She dictated the letter to me and let me go without giving blood. She was very helpful and understanding.

Have you consulted with the ATP medical team to back you up? 
No I haven’t. The doping control officer doing the controls was a doctor herself. I asked her and she showed me all her diplomas. She checked me and told me I could skip the test and dictated me the explanation for it. After I left the doping control station I went straight to bed and slept all afternoon. I didn’t see any reason to worry so I didn’t look for any help.

Troicki’s trust in the DCO appears to have hindered him when it comes to securing the relevant paperwork to confirm his claims that skipping the test would be acceptable.

The decision looks like the ITF are finally upping their game when it comes to doping violations and going after bigger names – especially when the accusation has been that lesser names have been taking the fall is often thrown around. However, the information at first glance appears to suggest that this charge is the result of a mix up in communications than an attempt to cheat.

Players that have served bans this year include Filippo Calorosi, Dimitar Kutrovsky (Career high no.312) and Fernando Romboli (career high no.236). Barbora Zahlavova Strycova also missed time this year due to a ban. Interestingly enough, the four listed  all tested positive and served shorter bans than Troicki’s current 18 months. Troicki’s urine sample and the blood sample taken the next day both tested negative.

Troicki will be appealing the ban in the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS) in Switzerland, but if unsuccessful he will be out of action until early 2015.

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