Wayne Odesnik pleaded guilty in an Australian court to smuggling eight vials of Human Growth Hormone into the country prior to the Australian Open this January, but obviously it was an experiment testing the competency of customs officials. Or maybe he was a helpless pawn in an international drug smuggling operation. I mean, why else would an athlete hide performance enhancing drugs in his luggage?
Here’s Odesnik’s statement via tennis.com:
“The ITF is presently conducting an investigation of me regarding my possession of HGH while in Australia earlier this year. I have never used nor taken HGH or any other banned substance in my life,” Odesnik said. “I am fully cooperating with their investigation and I will have no further comment on the matter until it is concluded.”
Seriously, why differentiate between “used” and “taken”? It’s like “smoked” vs. “inhaled.” Or “cheated” vs. “deceived.” So you’ve never “used” nor “taken” Wayne? How about “ingested” or “injected”? Sigh. Like Roger Federer once said, cheaters never admit to it.
We’ve wondered why Odesnik has been allowed to show his face on the clay to begin with. The ITF answers (via the Houston Chronicle):
“Odesnik has not as yet been found guilty of a doping offense under the rules of the TADP (Tennis Anti-Doping Program) and therefore is allowed to play,” the ITF’s statement read. “In order not to prejudice the player’s ability to defend himself in his criminal case, the TADP decided to await the outcome of those proceedings rather than run concurrently, but began the process immediately once the decision of the Australian Court was taken. The player is entitled to put forward a defense and this can take some time and he has elected not to take a provisional suspension.
“Whether or not we feel this is good for the image of tennis, he has that right and the ITF and ATP have an obligation to honor it. The TADP affords every player the right of due process. We believe that this is in the long-term best interests of everyone.”
I hereby jump the gun and call Wayne a “liar!” I will issue an official apology if and when I see Wayne starring as himself on an episode of the National Geographic Channel’s “Locked Up Abroad.”
Mardy Fish, who pulled out of Houston on Tuesday with a severe bruise sustained during the Sony Ericsson Open, agrees with me (via Houston Chronicle):
“I’m the kind of guy who’s been around for a long time,” Fish said. “This is my 11th year. I’ve seen a few guys come and go who have cheated and he seems to be no different. There’s no room for him. There is no gray area. He pleaded guilty. Any points and money he wins here are going to be gone anyway (if the ITF suspends him).
“It would be pretty awkward (for me) to play him here. He’s a pretty good clay court player. What you don’t know now is if any of that is real. It doesn’t seem to be. I’d have a serious beef if I were (Jerzy Janowicz, whom Odesnik defeated in the first round). And, if I were (Odesnik), I’d take myself out.”
Odesnik has reportedly hired the Miami based lawyer Christopher Lyons, who’s worked with Cleveland Browns receiver Donte Stallworth (pleaded guilty to killing a pedestrian while driving drunk) and former NFL star Warren Saap (arrested for misdemeanor battery.)
If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d think that the Americans had planned a mass protest at the River Oaks Country Club: both Fish and Russell withdrew with injuries on Tuesday, and Rajeev Ram and Taylor Dent retired during their matches. Odesnik is still kicking, he plays Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in the second round.
Click here for the tournament website.