Serena Williams wants everyone tested equally
Deadspin initially reported the missed test, prompting Williams' spokesperson to respond via statement last week by saying the tennis star was not at her Florida home when a tester made a surprise visit on June 14. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), meanwhile, said it had tested her on three occasions this year.
"I actually thought the article was interesting, to be honest, because I never knew that I was tested so much more than everyone else," Williams told reporters. "When I saw it, I actually learned from it. I thought, 'Wow. I literally didn't know that.'
"I do know I'm always tested, I'm always getting tested, all the time. No matter where I'm ranked. Until I read that article, I didn't realize it was such a discrepancy with me, as well as against the other players that they listed, at least with the American players, both male and female. It will be impossible for me not to feel some kind of way about that."
Williams, 36, is one of many athletes in the international testing pool who is required by the USADA to let the agency know her whereabouts for a one-hour period of her choosing every day, even when not competing. Testers, however, have the right to also make unannounced visits outside the one-hour window, though there is no guarantee the athlete will be at the location.
According to the USADA's guidelines, an athlete will receive a missed test if he or she is unavailable at any time during the one-hour window. Three missed tests in a 12-month period count as a doping violation. Being unavailable for tests outside the one-hour window does not count as a missed test.
Deadspin reported the testing officer had arrived at Williams' home at 8.30 a.m. local time, and had refused to leave until Williams had been tested. He eventually departed without a sample. The website published the story after receiving a tip from someone who it said overheard phone conversations by Women's Tennis Association CEO Steve Simon in an airport.
In her account of the day in question, Serena said, "My time was actually 12 hours later. For some reason, they showed up in the morning, which they are allowed to do. And if I'm not there, then they just leave. For whatever reason, they didn't leave. They said, 'I can come back.'
"I was like, 'I'm totally not in the area because my hour is actually a long time from now. I'm completely so far away.' I guess they decided it was a missed test, which really doesn't make sense. Anyone would logically think about that, and I would otherwise have to be home 24 hours a day, or I get a missed test. ... For me, it's a little frustrating. How can I have a missed test when it's nowhere near the time I should be there?
"I'm still trying to figure out why and how that happened. We're in that together."
The USADA can request a blood and/or a urine test. USADA spokesperson Brad Horn told Reuters last week that Williams had been tested on three occasions this year for a total of five tests, passing all of them. The governing body, however, would not confirm specifics of the matter, citing athlete confidentiality.
"It's unfortunate that an athlete's right to confidentiality and privacy was leaked by a third party," Horn told Reuters. "For fairness to athletes and their privacy, public disclosure of test missions are not made public, unless a stated time requires such notification."
Williams said she is having an ongoing conversation with the USADA on the matter, including the ratio of tests between her and other players on the tour.
"I'm OK with [the amount of tests I've had this year]. Literally, verbatim, I said, I'm going with that, as long as everyone is being treated equally. That's all I care about. I despise having people in our sport that aren't being honest," Williams said. "I'm totally OK with testing and I encourage it. What I want to know, if everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean.
"Tennis has given me so much. ... I feel like equality, that's all I've been preaching; it's all about equality. If that's testing everyone five times, let's do it. Let's be a part of it. It's just about being equal and not centering one person out. Just due to the numbers, it looks like I'm being pushed out. Just test everyone equally."
Roger Federer echoed Williams' call for consistent testing when he was asked about Serena's comments later on Sunday.
"I think it varies from place to place that you spend your time in. Maybe that's the part I don't like so much -- the inconsistency of the places where they test," Federer said. "I understand it probably also has something to do with the budget of WADA, like flying somebody there just for that one test, I understand. Yet that should not be an excuse. That's why, after all, we still need more funding. I hope that's going to happen.
"I don't believe there's ever going to be enough testing," he added. "What's important is these people are professional, they know what they're doing, they treat you like humans, not like criminals. Then it's OK; but I understand the frustration sometimes. I have it, too.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.