Andy Murray desires zero tolerance on drug cheats

American Wayne Odesnik has been banned for 15 years following a second doping violation. Picture: AP

American Wayne Odesnik has been banned for 15 years following a second doping violation. Picture: AP

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ANDY Murray’s tweet made his feelings perfectly clear: “Goodbye Wayne… good riddance”. On Wednesday morning, Wayne Odesnik’s tennis career was summarily ended when he was banned for 15 years for failing out-of-competition drugs tests in December and January.

As this was the second time Odesnik, a 29-year-old journeyman from the United States, had been sanctioned for doping offences, he incurred the most severe penalty possible but, even so, the length of the ban was surprising – it is the longest term ever handed down by the anti-doping authorities. He tested positive for a variety of banned substances including anabolic steroids and growth hormones.

In 2010, customs officials at Brisbane airport in Australia caught Odesnik trying to carry vials of human growth hormone into the country hidden in his suitcase. He denied that he had ever taken the substance but later that year he was suspended from the tour for two years, the statutory punishment for a doping offence. That ban was later halved when Odesnik provided “substantial assistance” to the International Tennis Federation’s anti-doping investigators.

In 2011 the American was back on the tour although he was treated as a pariah. His contemporaries despised him as a drugs cheat and now loathed him as locker room grass.

Murray has spoken out about drugs cheats before but when the news came through about Odesnik, the Scot was as scathing about the anti-doping authorities as he was about Odesnik. He believes the American should never have had his first ban reduced and, he feels, the sanctions on offenders should be increased. “The one thing I don’t agree with is cutting people’s bans,” Murray said. “I think that when someone is banned, that should stick. And just because you give information to the authorities, whatever it was – I’ve no idea what he said – why should he be let off?

“I feel that when someone is done for cheating that they should open up. If they want to come back into the sport, they should tell everything that they know. But don’t reduce their bans just for doing that. He should have had the full ban and served it properly.

“I almost get the feeling that when you do cut and reduce people’s bans that they think ‘maybe I can give this another go and see if I can get away with it again’. So, I feel that there should be no tolerance. I don’t think that you should be given half a sentence because you gave some more information. No, give the information; keep the ban the same. When someone is intentionally cheating, then it’s quite clear when that’s the case. I’m all for them never coming back on the tour again. That’s my view. Sometimes, things aren’t as clear cut and every case is a bit different. But when someone’s travelling to another country with human growth hormone in their suitcase, there is only one thing you’re doing with that and that’s just blatant, clear attempts to cheat and cheat the system. It [the penalty] should be definitely no less than a couple of years but if it’s four or five years then it’s very difficult to come back from that.”

As for Odesnik, Murray has had no truck with him since he came back from his last suspension and has absolutely no time for him now.

The American’s pleas of innocence, then and now, fell on deaf ears throughout the locker room. When, in 2013, he was linked with the Biogenesis clinic in Florida at the heart of the Major League Baseball doping scandal – his name was found in the clinic’s records – Odesnik lost any shred of credibility he might have had. The fact he has now tested positive for growth hormone, the substance he so vehemently denied taking in 2010, was proof positive for Murray that Odesnik had no place on the tour or anywhere near the sport. “He’s a cheat,” Murray said simply. “That’s it. It happens in all walks of life. There’s people that try to cheat the system and think they’re never going to get caught but, look, he’s obviously not particularly smart and he deserves the ban he’s been given. I think it’s good he’s off the tour.”

• Defending champion Novak Djokovic completed the line-up for the men’s quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Open by beating John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

Bernard Tomic saw off Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to join the Serbian in the last eight. Also through are Czech Tomas Berdych, who beat compatriot Lukas Rosol 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, and Milos Raonic, who beat Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2.

Awaiting the Canadian is third seed Rafael Nadal after the world No 3 eased past Gilles Simon with a 6-2, 6-4 victory. Second seed Roger Federer booked a meeting with Berdych after dispatching American Jack Sock 6-3, 6-2.

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