Yannick Noah Interview : Davis Cup, drugs, personalities and role models
This is an old Yannick Noah interview from May 2001, which still does have some relevant points, mostly about drugs in tennis at that time and some other things as well.
Before some Federer fans get up in arms as to why he doesn't mention Federer at the end, the timeline is important to this.
As this interview is long I am going to paste in parts.
In this startling interview former Roland Garros champion Yannick Noah claims that drug cheating is commonplace on the professional tour. At precisely the same time that the ITF has maintained that tennis is virtually drug free, the charismatic one-time French Davis and Fed Cup Captain, who now competes on the Champions Tour, has told Aus Tennis Magazine correspondent Paul Fein that the system actively protects tennis players who take drugs. He also has strong opinions on what makes Lleyton Hewitt tick, why Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras are wrong about Davis Cup and predicts that Sampras will never win Roland Garros.
John McEnroe recently said that in the 1980s cocaine was the popular drug and he experimented with it. In 1991 you said: “But for the good of the sport they [drug users] should be caught and stopped. The ATP should test at every tournament.” How prevalent were drugs on the men’s tour then, and how prevalent are they now?
There is a big difference between using drugs to enhance performance or just a social drug. Cocaine has never helped someone win a match or have a better life. But I also know that plenty of people, especially in America, freely take performance enhancing drugs and are protected by the system. And nobody says anything about it. I don’t believe you can be happy when you have cheated and won. Your conscience won’t let you. But now drug cheating has become so strong and powerful that some players are protected, depending on where they come from.
What do you mean by protected?
They are protected. We know for a fact that it’s better to come from America than from France. It has nothing to do with the ATP. It has to do with the whole sports system. If you are French, you are tested no matter what sport you play because it’s part of our culture. Nobody really tackles this problem and tries to catch violators. Each sport has its own rules. In America, you find over-the-counter in pharmacies things that are totally forbidden in France and in Europe.
In 1996 you admitted that you smoked marijuana during the 1983 French Open. Did that help you win the title?
Well, I said I smoked marijuana during 1983. But I didn’t smoke during the tournament. I never smoke during a tournament, never. I smoked a lot after the tournament. It’s funny how people made into such a big deal. It’s a recreational drug as opposed to a performance enhancing drug. If you are just talking about recreational drugs, then you have people tell you how you are supposed to be a role model.
Aren’t famous athletes supposed to be role models?
I believe the best role models are the father and the mother. If somebody can be influenced by what he sees on TV, then there is a problem with his education. Yeah, I smoked, yeah! If my children are smoking, I hope they will be able to talk to me about it. It’s not that I am going to judge them. And I also know the majority of people have tried marijuana. So why would we hide? Hiding is not attacking the problem. And I really believe it is a problem for young kids. And the way to deal with it is to talk about it. Let’s not just say, “This sports star smoked,” and that’s it. I haven’t smoked in ten years.
“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion,” wrote German philosopher Hegel. Do today’s players have the passion of McEnroe, Connors or Gerulaitis and you displayed?
I believe they had the passion. But after you are on this tour for a few months, the new Code of Conduct rules kill your passion because you can’t express yourself. Basically what the rules say is: “Play and shut up”. So you have a new generation of guys… I believe these guys don’t lack passion, but it just doesn’t show.
Does Lleyton Hewitt, for example, show passion?
There is so much anger there. I’d be interested in talking to a psychiatrist about him. There is also something lively about him. But I’m not excited and about to go, “Wow, I’m going to see Hewitt play”, I don’t want to sound too negative, but after five minutes of seeing him excited, excited, excited, jumping up and down, I’m tired. Where is Ilie Nastase? Where are the Adriano Panattas? Yes, Hewitt has life, fire, definitely something. But something crazy is going on.
Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation, said “I know a lot of agents tell their clients to be careful, to stay away from controversy. As for role models, like it or not, that’s the worst mistake they could make. In the long run, you can only win by speaking out against social injustice.” Do you agree with Lopiano?
I really believe the best thing to do is tell the truth. No matter where you are, no matter what level you are. Just because some people are on TV or some people have the opportunity to write, all of a sudden they are bigger and have more responsibility. But, as I said before, the first role models are Dad and Mum. These family values I cherish very much. Yes, I’ve had sports heroes. They’ve influenced me only to a minimal degree. Whoever says that because this sports star and said this on TV changed someone, I really believe is wrong.
“ On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".
Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Last edited by Action Jackson; 09-29-2008 at 03:23 AM.