July 01, 2018
LONDON — There was no reluctance on Serena Williams’s part on Sunday to discuss a recent Deadspin article, which highlighted she’s been drug-tested by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) more than any other American tennis player this year.
Serena Williams questions frequency of her drug tests
Williams met with the media Sunday, a day ahead of her first Wimbledon match since winning her seventh title here in 2016. She’ll play the Netherlands' Arantxa Rus on Court 1 Monday.
During a news conference, Williams said she found the article "interesting,” particularly the fact she’s already submitted to five out-of-competition tests in 2018 while other American colleagues have been tested less frequently when not at a tournament.
During the same time period, reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and 2017 U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys have only been tested once while off the tour, while Serena’s sister, Venus, and Coco Vandeweghe have undergone two tests while not playing, according to the article.
“I never knew that I was tested so much more than everyone else,” said Williams, the new mom to 10-month-old daughter, Olympia. “It will be impossible for me not to feel some kind of way about that.”
It should be pointed out that a player is subject to testing run by his or her National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO), in this case, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. It is independent of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program that is administered by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on behalf of the sport.
The ITF posts annual data for how often players have been tested in a year and the 2017 report shows Serena, who was pregnant and only played — and won — the Australian Open last year, was not tested an inordinate amount of times.
Serena submitted to between 1-3 tests in and out of competition in 2017. In contrast, Venus Williams was tested seven-plus times in competition and between 4-6 times out of competition. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Caroline Wozniacki and Stephens all were tested by the Tennis Anti-Doping program seven-plus times in and out of competition last year.
The Deadspin article also reported Williams was not at home to take a drug test when an USADA agent arrived at 8:30 a.m. on June 14. Players are mandated to provide an hour window of time for each day of the year, and information as to where they can be found during that hour, so they can be tested.
“My time was actually 12 hours later,” Williams said of the June 14 incident. “For some reason they showed up in the morning, which they are allowed to do. And if I’m not there then they just leave. For whatever reason they didn’t leave. They said, I can come back.
“I was like, ‘I’m totally not in the area because my hour is actually a long time from now.'”
Although the article stated that USADA maintains Williams remains in good standing, on Sunday she said she was considered as having missed a test. Three missed tests within a 12-month period can result in an anti-doping rule violation.
“I guess they decided it was a missed test, which really doesn’t make sense,” Williams said. “If you think about it, anyone would logically think about it that I would otherwise have to be home 24 hours a day, or I get a missed test.
“For me, it’s a little frustrating,” she added. “I’m still trying to figure out why and how that happened.”
Williams, who has had a conversation with Travis Tygart, the CEO of USADA, on the matter, made it very clear she supports drug testing. She would just prefer to see it approached in a consistent manner for all players.
“I’m OK with that as long as everyone is being treated equally,” Williams said she told Tygart. “That’s all I care about. I despise having people in our sport that aren’t being honest. I’m totally OK with testing and I encourage it.
“What I want to know is everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean.”
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