American tennis player turned Human Growth Hormone smuggler, Wayne Odesnik, released a statement during last week’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston denying that he ever used the banned drug. Just a few weeks earlier, he pleaded guilty to the Brisbane Magistrates Court, admitting that he had illegally brought the banned substance into Australia in January.
Court documents from that trial reveal truth-telling doesn’t come easy to Wayne. Here’s an excerpt from the Australian magistrate’s ruling, via ESPN:
“Mr. Odesnik is an elite athlete who should have been well aware of the sensitivities in having possession of the vials without first obtaining appropriate approvals. When speaking with customs officers, Mr. Odesnik in my view tried to cover up his possession of these vials on the basis that he had a career-ending injury and that a doctor had prescribed the vials of Serostim to him … this turned out to be incorrect. While he subsequently offered information through his lawyers that he bought them off the Internet, in my view that is a token level of cooperation only… I found Mr. Odesnik’s explanation for his possession of the vials to be unsatisfactory to say the least.”
ESPN’s Bonnie D. Ford builds her own case against the ITF and ATP (click here), arguing that these organizations “dropped the ball” by allowing Odesnik to play in Houston last week:
“A number of writers and fans publicly and subjectively heaved a sigh of relief when Odesnik lost [in the semifinals of Houston], as if each successive win made things worse. But in my opinion, the embarrassment for the sport would have been just as deep if he had lost in the first round of qualifying.”
“Both the International Tennis Federation and the ATP maintain they were powerless to keep Odesnik off the court last week. After listening to their explanations, I’m still not convinced – and I’m not alone. At the very least, tennis got caught with its shorts down on this one and needs to tighten its rules so there is no repeat of this distasteful scenario.”
She questions the ITF’s assertion that launching an inquiry before the Australian court case officially closed could have “prejudiced the player’s ability to defend himself.” She argues: “I’m a journalist, not a lawyer, but I still don’t understand how a confidential inquiry by the ITF could have affected a case in the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court.”
As for the ATP:
So where was the ATP in all this? There’s a provision in the tour’s Code of Conduct — which, incidentally, includes page upon page of minutiae about what a player can and can’t wear on court — allowing the tour to take action against players who commit “Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game.” Offenders are entitled to a hearing and can be suspended up to three years and fined up to $100,000. If packing eight vials of HGH in your luggage doesn’t qualify, what does?
Ford says she’s not a lawyer, but she’d be a good one. Click here for more.
Meanwhile, Odesnik has indicated that he plans to play until the Tennis Powers That Be tell him he can’t:
“I’m doing the only thing I can do right now and that is focus on my tennis,” Odesnik said in Houston (via USA Today). “I’ve worked extremely hard. I’m looking forward to the clay court season. That’s where I usually excel.”
Perhaps Wayne really does have a career threatening injury – to his brain.