Agassi says drug cheating impossible in tennis
2 hours, 25 minutes ago U.S. National - AFP
STOCKHOLM (AFP) - After undergoing an estimated 20 drugs tests last season, tennis icon Andre Agassi says there's no way anyone playing the sport can cheat the system.
Despite the earlier 2004 furore over the Greg Rusedski positive Nandrolone test - successfully appealed - and the continuing mystery of trace elements of the banned, performance-enhancing substance which have shown up in repeated ATP player tests, Agassi maintains his faith in the system.
"It's an incredibly strict (anti-doping) policy we have," the 34-year-old said as he bids for a title at this week's Stockholm Open.
"Last year I was tested 20 times, maybe eight times blood, possibly more. You don't have opportunity in tennis to take time away to use drugs to enhance your performance.
"We play all the year around all over the world. If there are any positive tests that come around it is more likely that it is a function of international teenagers - people are giving them something, maybe they think it's vitamins."
Agassi admitted: "The issue of ignorance is a high possibility."
But the holder of 59 career trophies is firm in his belief that the sport is clean.
"To actually think that with our policy and testing it's possible to cheat and get away with it - it's absurd.
"It's a question of when, not if you get caught."
Agassi said that the anomaly of the spate of tiny, but positive Nandrolone tests remains a scientific puzzle.
"It makes you wonder if there some vitamin or whatever that have some contamination in it (supplements) that are showing signs. For somebody to cheat in our sport, (it) would be a miracle if you get away with it."
He added that the safeguards and due process which allowed Britain's Rusedski to successfully prove under law that his positive didn't come from illegal ingestion, are a critical part of the equation.
"As a player with your livelihood, your life and career - everything you've worked your whole life for - (can be destroyed).
"We have to make sure this doesn't happen, that it's a fair and just system that we have in the testing and the due process of appealing. In any part of a free society you have to be able to count on this."
Andre Agassi forever