Tests show game is clean, says Agassi

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Andre Agassi is convinced that there are no drug cheats on the ATP Tour. "We have done everything to remove the possibility of somebody strategically taking performance-enhancing drugs without being caught," the sport's biggest personality said at the Nasdaq Open here yesterday.

Andre Agassi is convinced that there are no drug cheats on the ATP Tour. "We have done everything to remove the possibility of somebody strategically taking performance-enhancing drugs without being caught," the sport's biggest personality said at the Nasdaq Open here yesterday.

Two days after participating in the inaugural meeting of the ATP Task Force on Supplements, formed after a spate of positive nandrolone tests on the tour, Agassi said: "I think the meeting shed a lot of light on the exact animal that we're dealing with and some potential solutions." Emphasising how often players are tested, in and out of competition, Agassi said: "I believe you can use drugs to cheat, but I believe our system is so extensive that we've removed that possibility. That is why so many of us are so frustrated with the latest trend of topic. I've been on the other side of the net over 1,000 times with somebody, and I can honestly say if there was ever a question, I was convinced and assured that they would be caught."

In the wake of the case of Greg Rusedski, who tested positive for nandrolone last July but was exonerated by a tribunal, many people in the game have criticised the use of nutritional supplements and suggested that players need only to take water. When your correspondent raised that with Agassi yesterday, he said: "The problem you have with that is you need supplements. There's a good chance you exercise less frequently and less intensely than we do. So the bottom line is that our product suffers if we don't give our body the basic needs that we're asking from it.

"I believe that it's not good for the players or the game to see people cramping up out there on the court, because you're talking about some great athletes.

"Players are starting to understand that the stronger you are, the more capable you are. I believe if you deny the players essential vitamins and supplements and then ask them to go out there and expend themselves day after day, you're tearing away the product itself."

The 32-year-old Goran Ivanisevic will be guaranteed another wild card for Queen's Club next June, if his body allows him to reach the outskirts of the All England Club again. Ivanisevic has been unable to return to Wimbledon since his dramatic triumph there in 2001.

The promise of a wild card for Ivanisevic was made by Ian Wight, the tournament director, who announced yesterday that Stella Artois had agreed a £10m deal with the Lawn Tennis Association to extend their sponsorship of the Queen's event for a further five years, taking the partnership to 31 years, the longest on the ATP tour.

Comments