Rafael Nadal has had enough. After years of innuendo, he wants the world to know he has never failed a drug test, and on Tuesday he urged the International Tennis Federation to publish all his results to prove it. It declined but said the Spaniard was free to do so himself.
Nadal’s approach to the ITF – which is responsible for the worldwide testing of players on the men’s and women’s Tours – followed his decision on Tuesday to sue the former French minister of sport Roselyne Bachelot in a Parisian court for claiming in a TV interview this year that his seven-month injury absence in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test”.
In a letter to the ITF president, David Haggerty, the 14-times slam champion said: “It can’t be free any more in our tennis world to speak and to accuse without evidence. Please make all my information public, please make public my biological passport and my complete history of anti-doping controls and tests. From now on I ask you to communicate when I am tested, and the results, as soon as they are ready from your labs.”
Nadal’s letter, seen by the Press Association, continued: “I believe we have to continue with the fight against doping and make the fight stronger and better if possible. As a player, at first an amateur and then a professional, I have been sure our sport is clean. It is necessary that our sport becomes a flagship in a world where transparency and honesty are two pillars of our conduct and way of living.”
On Tuesday evening the federation confirmed: “The ITF has received a letter from Rafael Nadal that includes a request to release his personal test results under the tennis anti-doping programme (TADP). The ITF can confirm that Mr Nadal has never failed a test under the TADP and has not been suspended at any time for an anti-doping rule violation [or for any other reason related to the TADP].
“Mr Nadal, as all other players who are subject to the TADP, has access to his anti-doping records through Wada’s ADAMS database and is free to make them available. The accuracy of any such release would be verified by the ITF.”
The response somewhat dodges the bullet. What Nadal wants is for the governing body to be proactive in exposing those who do take banned drugs, rather than simply accede to requests to make records public.
Its reluctance to do so is no doubt driven by legal concerns that individuals could claim they were being discriminated against unless all tests were released contemporaneously. As it stands, the results of B test confirming earlier failed A tests often are not made public until months after an offence, and then in the most perfunctory form.
A notable example was during Wimbledon in 2013 when Marin Cilic was informed a B test confirmed he had tested positive for nikethamide earlier in the season. It was announced at the time he was withdrawing from the tournament through injury. Cilic had a nine-month ban reduced to four months and resumed playing later that summer.
Nadal and many others in tennis, including Andy Murray, are concerned that this lack of transparency is not good for the reputation of players or the game. It is hard to argue with that.
This article was written by Kevin Mitchell, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 26th April 2016 17.27 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010