Amidst tennis star Maria Sharapova’s admission to testing positive to a banned substance and her pending suspension, Rafael Nadal lashed out at critics who accuse him of doping and hoped for the best for Sharapova Thursday at Indian Wells in California.
The fourteen-time Grand Slam champion told reporters Sharapova’s positive test for Meldonium hurt the sport and also denied longstanding and recently reiterated allegations that he used performance enhancing drugs to recover quicker during his seven-month injury stint in 2012 and that he failed a drug test.
"You know what? I heard [about the accusations] a few times again," Nadal told reporters. "I am a completely clean guy. I have never had the temptation of doing something wrong. When I get injury, I get injury. I never take nothing to be back quicker."
Regarding Sharapova, who faces a suspension of six months to as long as four years, the Spaniard stressed he hoped she only made a mistake.
“I want to believe that for sure it is a mistake for Maria, that she didn’t want to do it, but it is a negligence so the rules are like this. It’s fair, so now she must pay for it,” Nadal said.
Sharapova has thus far pleaded ignorance during the scandal, claiming she knew Meldonium by another name, mildronate, and that it was administered by her family doctor for the last 10 years to help with heart ailments and early onset diabetes, not as a performance enhancer.
Sharapova also said she never read the notice that stated Meldonium was recently banned starting in 2016, and Nadal admitted that he doesn’t read it either.
“To be honest I don’t read it. I have my doctor that I have confidence in,” Nadal said. “My doctor is the doctor of the Spanish tennis federation for a lot of years. He is the doctor of all the Spanish tennis players so I have full confidence in him. And I never take anything that he doesn’t know.
“I am 100 percent confident with my team and at the same time, I know all the things that I am taking so it is difficult to imagine that something like this can happen. But it is obvious that mistakes can happen – everyone can make mistakes.”
The accusations levied against the 29-year-old Nadal aren’t knew, except Sharapova’s revelation has opened old wounds that Nadal has vehemently denied for years.
Former French secretary of sport Roselyne Bachelot told French television show “Le Grand 8” that Nadal has tested positive in the past, an allegation that has never been confirmed, and made direct aspersions to tennis being a dirty sport that covers up for its athletes' and its' own sake.
"We know that Nadal's famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive [drug test]," Bachelot said on Tuesday. "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 and his lawyer are reportedly contemplating potential legal action against Bachelot.