Serena Williams’ team upset with ‘invasive and targeted’ drug tests
Serena Williams has been facing more random drug tests this year than other American tennis players, and her camp is not happy about it.
Deadspin wrote about some of the drug testing Williams has faced this year and pointed out how much greater the frequency is for her than other players.
According to the USADA database, Sloane Stephens was tested once; Venus Williams was tested twice; Madison Keys was tested once; Coco Vandeweghe was tested twice; Danielle Collins was tested zero times; Alison Riske was tested zero times; Bernarda Pera was tested zero times; and Taylor Townsend was tested zero times. Williams was also tested more than any of the top five American male players.
USADA has wide latitude to administer drug testing as they see fit. According to the US Anti-Doping Agency, their reasons can include: “available resources, performance information, ranking data, sport and athlete specific analysis, biological and longitudinal analysis, injury information, training periods, the competition calendar, intelligence received concerning possible doping practices and research on doping trends.”
Players who do well often become targets for more testing to ensure their performances have not been illegally enhanced. But upon being presented with the data, Williams’ camp called the amount she has been tested “invasive and targeted.”
“Over her 23-year career in tennis, Serena Williams has never tested positive for any illegal substance despite being tested significantly more than other professional tennis players, both male and female – in fact, four times more frequently than her peers. She has vocally supported, respected and complied with USADA testing throughout her entire career. While she willingly continues to submit to testing, there is absolutely no reason for this kind of invasive and targeted treatment,” a Williams spokesperson told Deadspin.
Deadspin published the data as part of a story about how a drug tester showed up at Williams’ home on June 14 when she wasn’t there and waited, but ultimately did not administer the drug test. Williams apparently called the WTA CEO to complain about the frequency of tests she’s faced.
If you’re wondering what could make Serena a bigger target for testing — beyond her obvious success on the court — the recent revelation that she used a banned substance during the 2015 French Open could have something to do with it. Williams had a therapeutic use exemption to take the substance during the event, which she won.
The 36-year-old new mother missed four straight majors due to her pregnancy and motherhood, but she returned to participate in this year’s French Open, where she reached the fourth round. Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles in singles, which is more than any other woman in the open era.