Noah says doping accusations were wake-up call
Former French Open champion Yannick Noah says his accusations of
doping being rife in Spanish sport were intended as a global
wake-up call to sports authorities he feels should be doing more to
catch drug cheats – yet he maintains his belief that Spain is
In an interview with a French newspaper last week, Noah accused
Spanish athletes of widespread doping. He said the only way to
level the playing field for struggling French and other athletes
would be to allow everyone to use the ”magic potion,” or banned
”If I chose this turn of phrase, it was to address the
authorities … in order to start a debate,” Noah said Friday on
the website of newspaper Le Monde that published his comments last
Those accusations drew criticism from Spanish athletes such as
10-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, and from the French
Tennis Federation, which distanced itself from Noah.
”I am a bit frustrated that there are two weights and two
measures in terms of doping, whether it’s Spain or another
country,” Noah continued. ”Of course all Spanish athletes aren’t
doped … (But) are (the French) worse than the others? I don’t
Nadal said Noah should be banned from commenting in the media,
while Pep Guardiola, the coach of Barcelona soccer club, told him
to produce proof or stay quiet.
”I went through the same thing 30 years ago, when I was 20. I
spoke about doping and drugs and everyone had a go at me,” Noah
said. ”I couldn’t respond to everyone. To Toni Nadal, Rafael’s
uncle, who’s told his nephew never to say hello to me again. But
what do I care if he says hello to me or not?”
Noah, whose son Joakim plays for the Chicago Bulls, refused to
back down from his view that Spain remains tainted by doping.
He cited cases involving cyclist Alberto Contador’s positive
doping test when he won the 2010 Tour de France, world steeplechase
champion Marta Dominguez, and the Operation Puerto blood-doping
investigation as examples.
”The cyclist who ate some meat that helped him pedal faster and
who was cleared by his federation, the case of (Dominguez) stopped
by the police and then cleared,” Noah said. ”My question is the
following: Is this not all orchestrated? In the Puerto case, I have
the feeling that the affair has been smothered, that names have
Dominguez was among 14 people detained in December 2010 as part
of the ”Operation Galgo” doping investigation, but a Madrid court
cleared her of doping and of trafficking performance-enhancing
This led to an investigation into Spain’s Civil Guard for
irregularities in managing her case.
Seven people linked to Puerto will stand trial in Spain, facing
up to two years in prison. They include sports doctor Eufemiano
Fuentes, former Liberty Seguros team boss Manolo Saiz and five
others arrested in 2006 on suspicion of providing doping services
Puerto implicated more than 50 cyclists but Spanish sports
bodies could not use evidence to ban athletes because of Spanish
law, which has since changed.
On Thurday, sport’s highest court completed a four-day hearing
into Contador’s 2010 Tour case. Hu must wait until early next year
to find out if he will be stripped of his title.
Contador’s defense is that eating contaminated steak caused his
positive tests for clenbuterol.
”I am against all forms of doping but I’m hypersensitive when
it comes to injustice. There are too many cheats winning these
days. In Spain and elsewhere,” Noah said. ”At which point is an
athlete considered to have doped? When he takes a product that
makes him run faster, makes him stronger, helps him recover more
quickly? Or when he tests positive? The answer to the question is
not the same, depending on the country.”
Noah blamed the media for not being aggressive enough on doping
”There are side effects which you never read about on the front
pages of the newspapers,” he said. ”We know there have been
problems in the past with Italian footballers who are now seriously