Novak Djokovic says he signed a petition that he hopes will convince the ITF to institute new rules for the anti-doping process. Djokovic did this in support of his friend and Davis Cup teammate Victor Troicki, who is serving an 18-month suspension for failing to submit a blood test back in April during the Monte Carlo Masters. Troicki said he was too sick to submit to a test that day and was told by a doping control official that he had the option of being tested the next day. The doping control official claims that she never told him that, and the ITF panel that heard the case sided with her. Troicki will appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration of Sport next week.
“The whole case around Viktor is just very unfair towards him,” Djokovic told reporters. “I believe that he’s innocent. He hasn’t been charged for being positive on any kind of substance. He was just accused of failing to provide the blood test that day. I know him since I was eight years old. We grew up together. He’s one of my best friends. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s innocent. I supported him from the first moment. I hope that he’s going to be discharged and he’s going to be able to play, because he’s definitely not guilty. What happened in that room on this day, for me, it’s very clear that he is supposed to play. I’m confident that he’s going to come back on the tour, hopefully already in the next couple weeks, and he’s going to be with us in Davis Cup final, because we wish him that.”
Djokovic appears to be taking Troicki’s version on what occurred in Monte Carlo that day word for word. Troicki has claimed that the official, Dr. Gorodoliva, told him that if he wrote a letter to the ITF explaining the reason why he couldn’t take a test that day, he would be allowed to take one the next day. The ITF did not concur.
“Troicki did not properly take on board at the time her statement that she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not giving blood was a valid one, and he elevated her statement that he should put his explanation in writing to the ITF into something that it was not – he saw it as being offered as a potential solution to the problem, whereas it was in fact being proposed by her merely as part of the due process to be followed in such circumstances,” the ITF panel wrote in its decision.
However, Djokovic is siding with his friend.
“I don’t see why they’re keeping him suspended. For what? For failing to provide the blood test? He asked the lady that day, you know, he’s not feeling well. Can I provide you tomorrow? She said, 'Yes, if you write report.' He wrote the report, and the next thing you know she’s failing to say the truth in the court in London. She was saying that he was convincing him, that it took her 20 minutes to walk from anti-doping office to the ATP office in Monte-Carlo tournament, which is 20 meters. So she was lying a lot. That’s very bad for our sport. That’s very bad for anti-doping agency, to have people who are responsible for this work to fail to say what really happened that day. There was another person present in the room that day that wrote a perfect English on the report, and then in the court in London he didn’t understand a single word.”
The petition is said to include language where a player can request an ATP tour official to be in the room if there is a dispute.
“The reason why I was the first one to write a petition for the rule change is to try to spread the awareness to the people around that obviously there is -- it all comes down to who said what and who believes in who, you know what I mean?” Djokovic asked. “It’s just not fair towards the players, because there has to be I guess technology or a camera or an additional person in the room while you’re doing the test, because then -- the player has no really rights.”