The Reuters global sports blog
So many whys in Agassi affair
Except this was no ordinary story. One of the greatest players to have graced a tennis court had just revealed that he had taken drugs and then lied to the ATP about the circumstances surrounding his positive dope test in 1997.
The eight-times grand slam champion took the recreational drug crystal meth 12 years ago when his career was floundering – he found himself playing on the challenger circuit after sliding down the rankings to 141st in the world.
Although the substance may not be performance enhancing, the question on every tennis fan’s lips since the news broke is “Why?”
Why did Agassi take it? Why did the governing body of tennis clear him of any wrongdoing? And why did he disclose this bombshell now when he had effectively got away with it?
It is hard to believe that a popular sportsman who made over $31 million in prize money and several times that amount in endorsement deals would want to drag his own name through the mud just to get some publicity for his autobiography.
But that is effectively what he has done.
“His book will probably sell. It seems very interesting, to say the least,” fellow American Venus Williams said.
Unfortunately he has also left the ATP in a difficult position, even if it was an independent tribunal which cleared him of any wrongdoing in 1997.
Officials who investigated his failed dope test believed his letter of explanation, which Agassi now says “was full of lies, interwoven with the truth”.
For a man who once graced television screens with the catchphrase “Image is Everything”, he might find that he has now done irreparable damage to his own reputation.
PHOTO: Former champion Andre Agassi salutes the crowd during the opening ceremony at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 31, 2009. REUTERS/Shaun Best