Sep/19

16

Are PEDs a part of junior tennis?

“There will be doping for as long as there is commercial sports, performance-related shoe contracts and television contracts.” – Angel Heredia (boxing nutrition consultant)

“I’ve created 20 different drugs that are still undetectable for the doping testers.” — Angel Heredia

With all the money that is in pro sports and pro tennis, performance-enhancing drug use, steroids, human growth hormones, are widely suspected to be used by a few, or possibly many athletes, despite strict testing procedures.

But does the cycle of alleged PED use start even earlier? Are parents of junior players making the decision to invest in PEDs to help their kids make it? To assist their chances to earn the big prize money, endorsement contracts, etc? The high cost of first rate tennis coaching and travel expenses can be devastating on a household’s bank accounts.

Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena flat out admits he got his daughters into tennis because of seeing Virginia Ruzici win a check for $25,000 for winning a tournament on TV.

Money was the motivating factor for creating two of the greatest champions of the modern era. And perhaps many, many more.

Today there are countless academies in the US and all over the world, varying in size. Some are massive operations, others are small time clubs functioning on your local public park courts. All are trying to produce champion players or at the very least, college scholarship recipients.

Just about every player has a dream to be the best, to win majors, to become a professional player. Or an NCAA Division 1 athlete.

In the roller coaster of life, every edge helps and it’s come to my attention that some of the biggest academies are actually suggesting and recommending parents to get their undersized kids to use PEDs like Human Growth Hormones.

Which is “very dangerous for a fourteen year old” says a small academy owner who reached the ATP top 20 and played in a major final.

“You don’t know what the long term effects will be.”

You see some of these famous players today who are a foot taller than her dad or has legs three times as thick as his dad and it makes you wonder. You see the bad cases of acne, the muscular legs and shoulders, kids well over six feet tall.

Would the dreams of making it in pro tennis, which is about as likely as winning the lottery, induce some or many parents to play the PEDs gambit?

One parent of a player who is no. 1 ranked in her age group in the nation and clearly a clean athlete by the looks of her unmuscular, natural body type, has suspicions about some of her daughter’s rivals, some of whom do not look like typical kids from the neck down. One player has particularly aroused her concerns. “Some of these kids will do ANYTHING for tennis,” she says with a tone of both frustration and respect.

The stories are out there.

Like the Russian girl who went back to Russia after posting mediocre junior results, only to return a couple of years later with a new hair color, birth date and name. That is just one story of many I’ve been told.

Some kids have grown over a foot in a year. But why is there such an emphasis put on height when there are so many players under five-foot-ten that are enjoying super successful careers…Philipp Kohlschreiber, Kei Nishikori, Fabio Fognini, Diego Schwartzman, Yoshihito Nishioka are all well under six feet tall. They didn’t need HGH.

We are going to try to investigate further into this potentially dark corner of the tennis world in the future, so stay tuned…

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114 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 19, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    I read in a soccer magazine years ago about how Messi at age 13 or 14 was diagnosed by his family doctor to need to take HGH. So he took it. Easy as that.

  • Andrew Miller · September 19, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Catherine made an observation that Serena today isn’t the Serena of the past – it’s true. Today’s Serena is quite a competitor. But her game falters under pressure where it had been so sound.

    I see today, probably no different than before, that players lose their form too quickly. The way Osaka has lost her form is similar to Ivanovic when she “lost” her game.

    When Osaka says Happiness over Success, I believe her. And when she swaps in her dad for a full time coach, I then believe she’s following up on this new motto.

    I don’t have much of a choice other than to believe other players such as Andreescu when she says she’s hungry for big titles. I have a little harder time believing some other players that don’t seem to be very honest about their approach to the sport.

    From a fan point of view I see it pretty straightforwardly – whether a player loses because they aren’t interested or whether they haven’t worked on their game or they only play their game, it’s all the same to me. The tour is the tour, and when one player falters another player reaps the rewards.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 19, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Scoop,

    Don’t think saying Messi took HGH as a kid is a great example of HGH working. I mean what is Messi, 5-7? What would he have been if he hadn’t taken the HGH.

    As far as Sloane is concerned, yes she looked listless against Giorgi, but that happens to players when they’re in losing streaks. And I’m sorry I don’t look at her “stealing” away Puig’s coach as a big no-no. I mean it’s not like Puig was tearing up the tour with Sloane’s coach. I mean this wasn’t like Bollettieri leaving Agassi and appearing in Bedker’s box.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 19, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Serena is definitely not prime Serena, she is missing that little extra fraction of Serena mode. She does not fully believe she can still win a major final. It’s a very interesting situation she is in. We will never see this again, a player with 23 losing four finals in a row.

  • Andrew Miller · September 19, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Funny stuff. Puig was playing better. Neither MPuig not SloaneS did well at the Open.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 19, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    But didn’t Puig move to Chicago to be closer to Murray the coach? I wonder if Murray is one of these coaches who pays an elite player to appear as a coach, which is great for his business.

  • Andrew Miller · September 19, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Yes, Puig did, briefly a Chicago resident. She’s moving to Florida, or wants to.

    I don’t blame Puig or Bouchard either for their woes. I blame the switch to Yonex from Babolats. Worst move…

    Andreescu if you’re reading don’t switch to Yonex! Few make this switch well. Seles did but she’s Seles.

  • catherine · September 20, 2019 at 12:32 am

    Messi was tiny when he was an adolescent – if he han’t been given HGH he prbably would have been about 5’3″ or something. No good for football.

    Patrick is talking up Serena again. Whenever he does this she loses. He should be bound and gagged and shut in a cupboard until after the AO.

  • catherine · September 20, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Angie bts Keys in 3 after a rain delay and Keys retired. So who knows what would have happened. I feared a third set Kerber collapse so she’ll be pleased to have left that up in the air. A win is a win.

  • catherine · September 20, 2019 at 2:37 am

    This is Angie’s second retirement win over Keys. Next match she could meet her old friend Pavs who is playing well coached by Sumyk. Kerber/Keys was a long tough match so Angie got some decent practice there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 20, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Kerber beats Keys, wouldn’t be surprised if our Kerber fans here yelled out a big, Vamos!!!!

  • catherine · September 20, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Dirk Dier was courtside. An encouraging familiar face. Angie looked chippy (she likes Japan) but if it’s Pavs next it’ll be tough. Sumyk radiates contentment 🙂 One guess why.

  • Jon King · September 20, 2019 at 9:09 am

    The move to Yonex is because they are much more arm friendly than Babolats for women. So if the choice is between prolonging the career or not, not much of a choice. Had Ci Ci Bellis used Yonex as a kid instead, she likely would be still playing.

    Like Catherine said, HGH took Messi from 5’3 to 5’7. Its a myth that it makes everyone who takes it super tall, it can only do so much. Most of the girls in juniors who take it combine it with other drugs like anabolics to get both max height and strength.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 20, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Sumyk looks pretty good for a guy who survived what he survived. That he kept his sanity through the Muguruzu ringer should nominate him for comeback coach of the year. Has Muguruze hired a new coach yet? Or are they all running scared from her offers?

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