Unsubstantiated claims from a former French politician that Rafael Nadal may have doped have been emphatically rejected by the International Tennis Federation, which sprang to the defence of the world No.5 Spaniard.
Nadal has already made his dissatisfaction known this week as he competes in the Indian Wells Masters.
“Accusations of (former sports minister) Roselyne Bachelot against Rafael Nadal are not only surprising, but also incorrect,” an ITF spokesman in London told German news agency DPA.
The names of all players penalised for violating the tennis anti-doping program are announced publicly as required by the rules of the program and the world anti-doping code, the spokesman added.
Nadal’s coach and uncle Toni said his family lawyers would file a suit against the Frenchwoman as a long-running war between French and Spanish sport breaks out again.
The elder Nadal labelled the French politician “an imbecile.”
Bachelot, a French health and sports minister from 2007-2010, suggested that Nadal’s seven-month absence from tennis in 2012 for treatment of a knee injury was actually an attempt to hide a positive anti-doping test.
“We know that Nadal’s famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive (drug test),” she told French television.
“When you see a tennis player who stops playing for long months, it is because he has tested positive and because they are covering it up. It is not something that always happens, but yes it happens more than you think.”
Nadal said in Indian Wells that he had taken advantage of every modern legal medical breakthrough to treat his knee problems, including blood spinning and other advanced high-tech procedures.
“You know what? I heard a few times again about the doping and I’m a little bit tired of that,” Nadal said.
“I am a completely clean guy. I work so much during all my career, and when I get an injury, I never take nothing to be back quicker.
The Spanish Olympic Committee has supported their player, saying that the 29-year-old “has been submitted to innumerable anti-doping controls that he has always passed throughout his long career.”