High profile journalist Paul Kimmage, famous for helping expose Lance Armstrong, has on multiple occasions been informed off the record of the rampant
performance enhancing drug use at the highest levels of tennis. He has regularly alluded to this fact and even has a blog specifically dedicated to
this paradigm, alongside his regular columns in various newspapers.
So what may you ask has this anything to do with Serena Williams? The first incident that occurred which tarnished Serena Williams reputation in this
writers eyes, was when Serena Williams upon hearing that a WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) tester appeared at her residence in Las Vegas to check
blood and urine. Despite repeatedly showing his credentials to the camera and stating his name and title, Ms Williams refused to acknowledge him and
retreated to her panic room and awaited her management’s arrival. Allegedly she would not meet with any WADA official for a further three days.
Allegedly her lawyers and management successfully made this event go away and it was blithely discounted by her allies in the press.
A much more damning leak occurred in 2016 on the eve of the Rio De Janeiro Olympic games. The whole Russian Olympic team was effectively banned as a
number of their athletes tested positive for the substance Meldonium. Meldonium is a heart medication, but when used by athletes it can increase
oxygen intake and blood flow. It came at a time of increased geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia and some on the Russian side
felt aggrieved. They then retaliated by hacking WADA and VADA and disclosing the names of American athletes who availed of the infamous TUE
exemptions. If you are a professional athlete you can ask your doctor to prescribe you various drugs that are on the banned lists of the main
anti-drug agencies. It has clearly been blatantly exploited by a number of athletes with the likes of famous 5000 and 10000 metre runner Mo Farah and
a plethora of cyclists, some of the fittest people on earth, applying and receiving asthma medication. Unscrupulous doctors and athletes were
fundamentally using a grey area in the legislation to effectively use performance enhancing drugs, unrestrained. The Russians railed at this hypocrisy
and released the names. Amongst them were tennis players, specifically Serena Williams. It was disclosed that Ms Williams was availing of TUE
exemptions for a decade both in competition and out of competition.
The powers that be elected to focus on the hack itself and the breach of confidential information, rather than hundreds of athletes being exposed for
availing of legal performance enhancing drugs. The truth is Serena Williams would never have disclosed this until she was outed publicly. When you
combine this with her panic room escapade, one has to concur with Paul Kimmage and co, that something stinks in the state of Denmark.
Four time grand slam winner and former Olympic champion, Andy Murray has publicly stated that drug testing is not conducted satisfactorily in tennis
and he fully suspects some of his peers of availing of performance enhancing drugs. He is sceptical about the use of TUE exemptions also, accusing
those who avail of them as predatory and hypocritical, and that includes Ms Williams.
Serena Williams is no paragon of virtue and never has been. What happened at the weekend isn’t new for her. When things don’t go her way she does
not hold back in employing female discrimination or race to excuse her failings, which is of course exploitative and dispicable. When she is
questioned by anybody she is petulant, arrogant and dismissive. What she did to Naomi Osaka was disgusting at the weekend. People have highlighted the
fact that Ms Osaka has publicly defended Serena, but with 15,000 people booing the young player, it was clear that she had no choice. She was
magnanimous in victory and the epitome of decorum. Ms Williams could have comported herself similarly but elected to throw the toys out of the
In terms of Ms Williams’ TUE exemptions, it is hard to believe that some of the strongest and fittest athletes in the world are in such bad health
that they require substances clearly stated on banned lists to compete. It may be legal under the ambiguous and opaque legislation controlled by
western based sporting international institutions, but the fact is that she never disclosed it in years of competition until she was forced to by the
sporting equivalent of Wikileaks. The incident with the panic room to avoid the tester was just plain ridiculous.
It must be noted that when her name was disclosed in the TUE scandal, this writer was instantly sceptical of her career and when you combine that with
her sporadic tantrums and erratic behaviour, it’s hard to root for her. I much preferred her sister Venus, who never courted scandal and conducted
herself as a champion despite only winning about a third as many titles.