When the ITF tried to test Serena out of competition in October 2011, she fled to her panic room. It was reported that the doping control officer had been mistaken for an "intruder." And, as the statistics noted above indicate, she did not give a sample after leaving the panic room. No information has been disclosed regarding why no sample was collected. However, according to the ITF's anti-doping code (Section 2.3) the following is an anti-doping rule violation: "Refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit to Sample collection after notification of Testing as authorised in applicable anti-doping rules, or otherwise evading Sample collection."
When the "panic room" incident was reported last year, I asked the ITF about it (back when they still responded to my e-mails). This was their response:
The ITF, with the responsibility for managing the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on behalf of the Grand Slams, ATP and WTA and ITF, has a duty of confidentiality and will not comment on any case unless and until there is a decision that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, in which case the decision is published in accordance with the requirements of the WADA Code. Please take this as clarification of our position for the future.Clearly, Serena wasn't found to have committed an anti-doping violation. But, what happened? Why was no sample collected?
What were the results of the ITF's review of the case? Was the doping control officer at fault? Was the event treated as a "missed test"? If not, is it fair to other players on the tour that it appears some players can avoid the "inconvenience" of out of competition testing with seemingly no consequences?
If you were on the professional tennis tour, would the facts above give you more or less confidence in the tennis anti-doping programme?
Let me leave you with this thought: What would the media reaction have been if Serena was a cyclist rather than a tennis player?