Novak Djokovic has leapt the the defence of his compatriot Viktor Troicki, who he believes has been unjustly banned for charges relating to doping.
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Viktor Troicki is currently serving an 18-month ban for failing to provide officials with a blood test at this year's Monte Carlo Masters. Troicki has insisted that he was feeling ill when he was asked for the sample and claims that the doping official told him he could be tested the following day instead. However, the ITF don't agree with Troicki's version of events and have held that he should have provided a test on the day requested.
Novak Djokovic weighed in on the issue this week, offering his full support to his friend and Davis Cup teammate.
“The whole case around Viktor is just very unfair towards him,” said the World No. 1. “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."
(MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
"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 feels that Troicki has been stitched up and questioned the comments made by Dr. Gorodoliva, who according to Troicki informed him that he could submit the test the following day. “I don’t see why they’re keeping him suspended. For what? For failing to provide the blood test?" continued Novak.
"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.”
Djokovic has signed a petition that is aimed at convincing the International Tennis Federation to bring in new rules regarding the anti-doping drive. This is said to include a clause where a player can ask for an ATP tour official to be present if a dispute arises. “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?” he said.
“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.”