Tennis Prose



Mikael Ymer’s Defense

Mikael Ymer, ranked 51 in the world, faces an 18 month ban for missing his third drug test. Here is the Swedish player’s explanation for the error by himself and his team…

By Mikael Ymer

When we learned of the missed test, my team and I obviously tried to find out what had gone wrong. The system we had in place had worked pretty well – both for me, but also all the other top athletes my agent takes care of. And it goes without saying, that having had 2 strikes, and knowing the severity of the consequences, we had it as a top priority. My agent had booked me into the main hotel, and had received an email confirming this request had been made. When the tournament then switched me to a different hotel, my agent didn’t receive a confirmation email, which is always standard. This was confirmed by IT technicians who were able to track the digital footprints and prove that no email had indeed been sent to my agent. My agent therefore had no reason to change my whereabouts. Meanwhile, I believed I was supposed to be in the secondary hotel and that my agent had also been made aware. I understand that as an athlete with obvious advantages, there comes certain responsibility, and I accept that fully. From my point of view, there was nothing we could have done differently regarding this third offence. I’m not sitting here with the feeling of “if only I had done it this way or that way”. I followed our system and trusted my agent, like I had done for years. A system that worked for me and a lot of other athletes. There was no negligence or sloppiness. The independent tribunal of arbitrators obviously understood this and cleared me. For some reason ITF and CAS felt differently, and despite accepting the evidence put forward from us and our explanations, they still came to the conclusion that a ban was warranted, and that I should have done differently. I am 24 years old, at the prime of my career with a career high ranking, and I have been banned for 18 months. Banned not for gaining an unlawful competitive advantage on my colleagues, not for bringing the game into disrepute, not for gaining unlawful financial gain but because of a logistical technicality I had no reasonable way to prevent. It feels like a bad dream. I don’t think justice has been served. Neither with the decision itself nor with the subsequent punishment, which seems completely disproportionate compared to other bans that have ben handed out the last years. All I want to do is try and be the best tennis player I can be and make the most of my career in the limited time I have to compete professionally. An 18 months suspension is de facto a 3 year ban – as it’s gonna take a long time and a substantial effort to get my ranking back up to where it is now, since I’m gonna be starting from scratch. And there’s no guarantee I will even succeed in doing that. I feel like this is an important case and important for other people to know the ins and outs. I’m sure my fellow colleagues on the tour are worried themselves, that one day it could be them. If this is the kind of thing, that can take a player off the tour, everyone is at risk. And if this happened to one of my colleagues, I would feel so bad on his or her behalf. Are we comfortable affecting young people’s livelihood like this? Am I a casualty needed for the system to work? I know for a fact that other players have been cleared after having had 3 strikes (last occasion was 2022), despite being very similar scenarios to mine. So why was I different? Lastly, I want to thank all the positive messages I’ve received from around the world. It means a lot to me and I really appreciate it! I look forward to seeing you all back on the courts in the future! God is Great Always – Mike

Corentin Moutet expresses support for Ymer: I still can’t believe that this is happening… The guy fought all his life to get at his best ranking, all the sacrifices, being far from his family etc.. I feel so sorry for him, he is such a great guy I hope that everything’s gonna be better and good at the end for him. So unfair.

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  • Bill McGill · July 25, 2023 at 10:34 am

    I am not terribly knowledgeable about anti-doping measures or how to defeat them, but I would think the proper response to missing a random test is that you have to present yourself to be tested the following morning. Would one day really make a difference the type of drugs that a tennis player would take to enhance performance? I don’t get it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 25, 2023 at 10:46 am

    Bill, it’s a mess. You read guys like Jonas Bjorkman saying he’s heard of cases of the ITF covering up positive tests (he was not sued), and Marcelo Rios saying if a top star moneymaker ever tests positive you guys in the media will never hear about it because those players are too important to the economics of the tour, you wonder. Ymer did just score the huge 5 set win vs Fritz at Wimbledon. This topic will always be a dark murky confusing and curious side of the sport. Sad for Ymer. Though I’m not aware of it, one insider on twitter said Ymer has been outspoken against the establishment in the past, implying he was possibly targeted. Still nothing on Halep though I heard she may be on the player list for US Open. Opelka has been out for a year, but just started hitting, may return for US Open?

  • catherine · July 25, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    I think this episode needs revisiting. On the face it, sounds very unfair. We need to know more.

    On similar subject – Halep has been entered for the USO although there is no official statement yet.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 25, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Catherine, And we didn’t even mention tue therapeutic use exemptions for illegal drugs.

  • catherine · July 27, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    The way Simona’s case is being handled is disgraceful. My betting is she will not play at the USO.

    Honestly, if Simona had been accused of committing a capital crime and was on trial for that we’d know more about what was going on than we do now for a possible (not proved) doping offence.

    At least in the UK.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 27, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Halep should just play the Therapeutic Use Exemption card. Get a doctor to give her a bogus reason to use the PED and end the charade once and for all.



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