Williams complains to Usada about drug test

LONDON • A drug-testing controversy involving Serena Williams has come to light on the eve of Wimbledon. The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion claimed that she is being unfairly targeted after an anti-doping officer left her Florida house without a sample this month.

Deadspin, the American sports news website, reported that Williams has complained to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) after one of its officers turned up unannounced on June 14.

She was not at home but contacted WTA chief executive Steve Simon to express her concerns about the frequency of visits.

Usada records show that Williams, who is ranked No. 183 after her long absence through pregnancy, has been tested out of competition five times this year, which is more than the top five American male players - John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson and Frances Tiafoe - combined.

Sloane Stephens, the American women's No. 1 and reigning US Open winner, has been tested once.

"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," a spokesman for Williams told Deadspin.

"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."

The issue has only emerged in the public domain because Simon was overheard discussing it on his phone at the San Francisco airport.

He has attempted to play it down by claiming that he is often contacted by players with concerns over drug testing.

Tennis players provide a 60-minute window each day under "whereabouts" requirements for an anti-doping officer to potentially administer an out-of-competition test.

If the player misses three visits within a 12-month period, then a doping violation is recorded.

But Williams' failure to provide a sample on this occasion does not count towards this because Usada says that this particular visit was not part of the "whereabouts" system.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Williams complains to Usada about drug test'. Subscribe