A statement by the ITF indicated their stance on the incident:
“Mr Troicki provided a urine sample, but did not provide a blood sample.
He asserted to an independent tribunal that he was assured by the doping control officer (DCO) that it would be acceptable not to provide a sample on account of him feeling unwell that day.
However, the tribunal concluded that the DCO told Mr Troicki that she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not providing a blood sample was valid, and that no such assurances were given by her.
The tribunal determined that he is suspended from participation for a period of 18 months, and so ending at midnight on 24 January 2015.”
Troicki was beaten in the first round of Monte Carlo and has insisted that he was under stress at the time.
Sections of Troicki’s response are below:
“Can you explain what actually happened?
It happened in Monte Carlo this spring. I was feeling awfully bad on April 15th before, during and after the 1st round match against Jarkko Nieminen. I was selected for urine and blood test after the match and went to the doping control station after showering and stretching. 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.
And what went wrong thereafter?
Now I am being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare.
I was 100% sure everything was ok, just like my coach Jack Reader who was in the doping control station room with me during at least half of the procedure.
Did you eventually have a blood test when you felt better?
Yes, I had a blood test from the same doping control officer the next morning.
Did you get the urine and blood test results back, and if you did what did they show?
Both negative, totally clean.”
“Have you ever missed a test before?
No, I never missed a test before.”
“What are your immediate thoughts, feelings?
I am destroyed and exhausted. The whole period I have been thinking only about this issue. And it is not over yet, so I can’t really describe it. I am not even angry with the doctor. I believe that maybe she was told by her organization that she made a big mistake letting me go she backed up and tried to save her job.”
“Is there anything else you would like to say?
I feel like I am being treated like a criminal and I have not committed anything at all. I have a fear of the needle and I always have troubles drawing blood. But I always did. I am clean and will always be clean throughout my career. I just had the wrong doctor who didn’t tell me at all that I was risking anything. She showed me a letter of the ITF saying she is in charge of the decisions and I trusted her completely. I wish I had recorded the discussion, there would have never been a case if I did.
I am 100% sure that the court of arbitration in Lausanne will consider my good faith and my total innocence. But now, this enormous sanction makes me speechless. It feels like the world that I help building day by day has let me down. It is the worst feeling you can imagine.
What are you going to do now?
I really don’t know. It is all fresh and I can’t really believe it yet. I am a fighter and I will try to fight, together with my team and my lawyers, but I am quite destroyed now. I hope this nightmare will come to a good end, and I really want to continue playing. I don’t deserve this.”
Players who refuse to submit to drug testing are subject to a 2 year ban and the tribunal have said they felt that “Mr Troicki came across to us as someone prone to exaggeration in order to make his point.” They did, however, provide a six month reduction in the ban because they felt he was not guilty of “Significant Fault or Negligence”
While the rules clearly state that a refusal can be met with a 2 year ban it does seem odd that they then also admit he doesn’t appear guilty of significant fault or negligence.
Then you have the other side of the argument.
With all of the recent admissions and positive tests across sport they have to be shown to not bend the rules because someone is afraid of needles and feeling unwell.
As much as I think the sentence isharsh it is a clear and well known rule and lots of needle-phobic people, like myself, have to have needles when we’re not feeling great (in fact frequently) and you just have to do it. When you know your career depends on clean tests why not just stick your arm out and have the needle?
If you truly have that significant a response to needles (i.e. that you feel sick for the rest of the day) what difference does it make if you’re already feeling sick, spent the rest of the day sleeping anyway, and when you don’t have to play tomorrow??