Tennis News

INTERVIEW-Doping-IOC's Bubka urges action against Agassi

BERLIN, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Former world number one Andre Agassi should be punished for taking banned substances and then lying to tennis officials about it, International Olympic Committee member Sergei Bubka said on Friday.

Bubka said action should be taken against the American despite the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) eight-year statute of limitations.

“I am very disappointed with this,” Ukrainian Bubka told Reuters in a telephone interview. “When I heard that, it was just terrible.

“With Agassi’s case it is a legal issue. We should consult legal experts and see if we can do something about it. I would prefer to review it from a legal point of view and then to act,” said Bubka, a former Olympic pole vault champion whose world record stands to this day.

“It is terrible and harmful. That he lied and escaped and then continued (to compete) is really disappointing,” added Bubka, who is also a senior vice president at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Eight-times grand slam champion Agassi revealed in his autobiography “Open” that he dabbled with crystal meth in 1997 and then lied in a letter to the ruling body (ATP) about how the substance got into his system after he failed a drugs test.

Agassi, now 39, spoke of the moment he took the highly-addictive amphetamine for the first time when his career was in freefall. He was helped by his assistant, known as Slim.

“Slim dumps a small pile of powder on the coffee table. He cuts it, snorts it. He cuts it again. I snort some. I ease back on the couch and consider the Rubicon I’ve crossed,” he said.

“There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I’ve never felt so alive, so hopeful -- and I’ve never felt such energy.”

Bubka acknowledged that Agassi got away with it before the existence of WADA which was formed two years later.

“We are much better since the creation of WADA. We are better because we engage governments and I see more progress than negative points. Yes, it is painful when we see big names (involved in doping). I hate that, really.”

Editing by Pritha Sarkar; To query or comment on this story email