There should be “no doubts over the ethics” of Rafael Nadal after the all-time great was defended over his injections at the 2022 French Open. Despite being plagued by an injury which left him with little feeling in his left foot, Nadal defied the odds to win at Roland Garros for the 14th time, beating Casper Ruud in straight sets in the final.
The 36-year-old was open about the treatment he received during the event, and after his victory admitted to reporters: “It’s obvious that with circumstances that I am playing (with), I can’t and I don’t want to keep going, so the mindset is very clear. I was able to play during these two weeks with extreme conditions. I have been playing with an injections on the nerves.”
French cyclists Guillaume Martin and Thibaut Pinot later accused the star of doping, saying that a similar practice was not allowed in cycling. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Spanish Society of Sports Medicine responded by confirming the anesthetic injections were neither on the list of prohibited substances nor banned in cycling by the International Cycling Union.
The Spaniard’s success in Paris was referred to by former player Arnaud Clement, following the doping revelations that have rocked tennis. Simona Halep, Fernando Verdasco, and Kamil Majchrzak recently tested positive – the latter on four different occasions. Majchrzak vehomently denies cheating, and stated he has never knowingly taken a banned substance.
Nadal was injury plagued in 2022, having to withdraw from Wimbledon.
“I never asked myself the question in relation to Rafael Nadal, especially after the last Roland Garros, everything he did,” Clement told Eurosport. “In addition, he even almost made it public. So at some point, there are rules, we follow them or we go beyond them, but in no case, Rafael Nadal was on drugs, I believe. I have absolutely no doubts about the ethics of this player,”
Clement, 45, also argued that fans and pundits shouldn’t point fingers at players purely because they are in supreme shape: “It’s not because a player is particularly physical or athletic that he is doped. You have to be careful with this kind of shortcut. We could also see players who were taken for doping and we said to ourselves, ‘but no, not him, it’s weird’, because it’s not the physics we imagine for a doped guy.”
The Spaniard has won 14 of his 22 majors at Roland Garros.
Scutiny on tennis is now likely to intensify though. Two-time Slam winner and former world No 1 Halep threw the sport into chaos in October when she admitted to failing a test at the US Open.
The revelations around world No 82 Majchrzak kicked off on December 9, when he was provisionally suspended for adverse findings in tests taken at tournaments in Bulgaria, Japan and South Korea. It’s since emerged he failed a test in his native Poland as well.
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