Spain’s 14-times Grand Slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal says he plans to sue former French Minister for Health and Sport Roselyne Bachelot after she claimed the reason for him missing a seven-month period in 2012 was because he failed a drugs test.
The 29-year-old has faced constant allegations of doping throughout his career and has threatened legal action against anyone who follows Bachelot in labelling him as a drugs cheat.
Bachelot, who served in the role from 2007 to 2010 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, made the claim after five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova admitted she had tested positive for banned substance meldonium at January’s Australian Open.
The heart attack drug was only added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list on January 1 and 99 cases have now already been reported.
“We know that Nadal’s famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive control,” Bachelot said.
“When you see a tennis player who stops playing for long months, it is because he has tested positive and because they are covering it up.”
Nadal, who was speaking after progressing through to the third round at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, refuted Bachelot’s suggestions, insisting he was a clean athlete and that he “had never had the intention of doing something wrong”.
He has had the support of the Spanish Olympic Committee as well as La Liga outfit Real Madrid, who released a statement in support of Nadal.
The Spaniard, a winner of the French Open on nine separate occasions, has seemingly had enough of the accusations that he has used illicit substances in his career and says he will sue anyone who claims “something similar in the future”.
“A minister of France should be serious,” he said.
“This time is the time to go against her.
“We are going to sue her.
“This is going to be the last one, because I’m going to sue her.
“I am tired about these things.
“I let it go a few times in the past – not anymore.”
Bachelot’s comments were the latest in a long line of allegations levelled at Nadal after former French Open champion Yannick Noah wrote a newspaper article in 2011 which suggested that Spanish sporting success was achieved because of doping.
Belgium’s Christopher Rochus, a former professional on the men’s circuit, also hinted Nadal was a drugs cheat after questioning him cruising to yet another French Open title in 2012 before missing Wimbledon with injury.
- By Liam Morgan
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz