unsportsmanlike conduct.

In his new book, ‘Open’, tennis great Andre Agassi reveals that while on the ATP tour, he used crystal meth. Not only did he use it, but he was caught. The former number one didn’t let that stop him. He lied to authorities about it and got away with it. There’s more. He also admits that his father basically intimidated him into playing tennis and he developed a serious hatred for the man as well as the sport. For me, the most shocking admission in the book is Andre informing us that the crazy hair he had in the beginning of his career did not grow out of his scalp! The fact that he used at one point doesn’t surprise me nor does the severity of his drug of choice.

For those of you who are surprised (but wouldn’t be if Agassi was a professional basketball or football player) should forget this notion that tennis is such a proper sport for only the privileged and  “>trouble free. We’ve seen sports start off with a clean cut reputation only to develop into more accessible and ‘everyman’ types of sports. In other words, Wimbledon might be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of tennis but don’t use that traditionalism and formality as a gauge for all things tennis.

Agassi is not the first person to come out with a shocking admission just before a book is released. Maybe he just wanted to sell books. Maybe this had been weighing heavy on him for a while. Maybe he figured since he has turned his life around so drastically that he was in good enough standing to finally come out with it. Whatever the reason for coming out with this now, it’s not a big deal. Are we surprised that rebel Andre Agassi experimented with drugs a long time ago? Really? It doesn’t make me more or less likely to go out and buy the book. It doesn’t tarnish his legacy either. This is not one of the admissions that discredits an athlete. Crystal meth isn’t exactly a performance enhancer. So I certainly don’t feel cheated. What I’m more curious about is the acknowledgement that he hated tennis and despised his father. I think professional athletes are some of the luckiest people in the world. Of course they put in a lot of work and it certainly isn’t easy to come out on top, especially in tennis where you have to win to earn a living. We assume that they love what they do but you know what happens when you assume.

Everything that this man went through has led him to be the man that he is today, especially his father forcing him to practice for hours on end on the family court. Without all that practice, he wouldn’t be the champion that he is today and we might not even be talking about him at all. For better or for worse, his past experiences molded him and have made him the champion, philanthropist and person that he is today.

This affects the ATP more than Andre Agassi. The excuse he gave at the time is shockingly similar to the recent excuse of Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Gasquet tested positive for cocaine. He was suspended at first but then cleared after explaining that he must have ingested the drug while kissing a woman at a party. When Andre tested positive he said that a friend accidentally spiked his drink and was let off the hook. Gasquet tested positive for such a small amount of the drug making his story plausible. So was Andre’s though, right? I mean, what if Gasquet comes out with a book in 20 years, saying he used cocaine throughout his entire career?

The world anti-doping agency has an eight year statute of limitations preventing them from taking action against Andre. All of this seems like a slap in the face to the WADA and tennis authorities even though it wasn’t meant that way. The ATP officials are at fault here for believing the story and allowing him to continue to play without any repercussions. They need to learn from this and figure out a way to make sure that a caught player is truly caught. This puts them in a very awkward position and they have Andre Agassi to thank for that.

 

 

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~ by ksportsb on October 31, 2009.

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