Serena Williams Unhappy With Being Drug Tested 'So Much More Than Everyone Else'
Serena Williams has made it clear that she is excited to compete at Wimbledon, using her Twitter account for the past week to count down the days until Monday, when the tournament begins.
Serena Williams has made it clear that she is excited to compete at Wimbledon, using her Twitter account for the past week to count down the days until Monday, when the tournament begins. On Sunday, though, she made it equally clear that she is less happy about the frequency with which she has been drug tested, telling reporters that she feels unfairly singled out. "Equality, that's all I've been preaching. It's all about equality," Williams, 36, said at a pre-tournament news conference in London (via ESPN). "If that's testing everyone five times, let's do it. Let's be a part of it. It's just about being equal and not centering one person out. Just due to the numbers, it looks like I'm being pushed out. Just test everyone equally."
Williams offered extensive comments on the topic after being asked about a Deadspin article published earlier in the week, which reported that she had been tested five times so far this year by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. That amount was higher, per Deadspin, than for other top American women, including reigning U.S. Open champion and French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens, as well as for her sister Venus Williams and for the top five male American players.
"I actually thought the article was interesting, to be honest, because I never knew that I was tested so much more than everyone else," said Williams, who is in search of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title. "When I saw it, I actually learned from it. I thought, 'Wow. I literally didn't know that.'
"I do know I'm always tested, I'm always getting tested, all the time. No matter where I'm ranked. Until I read that article, I didn't realize it was such a discrepancy with me, as well as against the other players that they listed, at least with the American players, both male and female. It will be impossible for me not to feel some kind of way about that."
USADA spokesman Brad Horn offered a potential mitigating factor to the seemingly high number of tests, telling the Associated Press that the five tests came from three visits to Williams by the agency's collectors. "It is standard practice on many testing missions to obtain both urine and blood samples, resulting in multiple samples from a single testing mission," Horn said.
Deadspin also reported on an unusual-sounding situation in which a USADA collector apparently refused to leave after showing up at Williams' residence on June 14 at a time she wasn't expecting. The agency staffer reportedly left eventually without getting a sample from Williams, but Horn told the website that she nevertheless "is in good standing with our program."
Athletes on USADA's testing list are required to inform the agency of their whereabouts at all times of year, and they must make themselves available for a 60-minute window each day during which a collector may arrive. Williams said Sunday that, on the day in question, the collector arrived 12 hours early, with the result she was listed as having a missed test. According to USADA policies, three missed tests withing a 12-month span can result in an anti-doping rule violation.
"I was like, 'I'm totally not in the area because my hour is actually a long time from now. I'm completely so far away.' I guess they decided it was a missed test, which really doesn't make sense," Williams said. "Anyone would logically think about that, and I would otherwise have to be home 24 hours a day, or I get a missed test."
"For me, it's a little frustrating," she added. "How can I have a missed test when it's nowhere near the time I should be there?"
Another tennis titan, Roger Federer, chimed in as well Sunday, expressing concern about "the inconsistency of the places where they test," including his residences in Switzerland and Dubai.
"I don't believe there's ever going to be enough testing," Federer said. "What's important is these people are professional, they know what they're doing, they treat you like humans, not like criminals. Then it's OK. But I understand the frustration sometimes. I have it, too."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)