The Swiss Open this week marks the return of Viktor Troicki following his one-year ban from the game for refusing to give a routine blood sample following a match at the 2013 Monte Carlo Masters.
Troicki is now ranked No. 847 as compared to the No. 53 he was when the incident happened. Competing at the Swiss Open courtesy of a wildcard, the Serb won his first match back by ousting eighth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 76 (4) 64.
How many wildcards will be proffered to help Troicki on his upcoming journey to reestablish himself on tour is unkown. It makes no difference as he’s still likely to have to play at Futures and Challenger events to work his way back to regular appearances at ATP-level events.
To this day, Troicki, as well as his loyal friends, including world No. 1 and recently married Novak Djokovic, have remained diligently outraged that Troicki was so unfairly punished. The 28-year-old claimed he didn’t feel well on the day he was asked to provide blood, that he has a fear of needles he suggests is inherited from his father, and insists the person in-charge at doping that day said he could come back the next day when he felt better or he never would’ve refused.
Unfortunately, Troicki’s story was not corrobarated by the authorities, hence the ban.
While many can put this down to a he said-she said scenario, in my mind having a little blood drawn was probably not going to harm Troicki if he was feeling a little under-the-weather. He did not feel so bad as to confer with the tournament doctor, that we know, and a line-of-action probably would’ve helped his cause in the “I’m sick” defense he put forth.
Troicki was not a novice in the way of drug testing on the tour. All the players are well-informed on how it works, most especially the better players who are subjected to more testing. Troicki knew the rules and understood they weren’t leniently bent on a given day. Unless he had something to conceal — I have no idea about this nor would even make such a suggestion — Troicki should’ve turned his head, bit his tongue, got stuck by the needle and let them draw his blood.
Bottom line on the bloody incident: Troicki made a stupid choice and paid a hefty price. And it’s no secret that if he acted a little bit contrite instead of as if he’s been wrongly cheated he might have a few more sympathisers during his road back.