Rafael Nadal defends self from doping allegations, says Maria Sharapova ‘must pay’ for testing positive

Rafael Nadal practices in front of a large crowd Thursday at Indian Wells.

Rafael Nadal practices in front of a large crowd Thursday at Indian Wells.

(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

You break the rules, you must face the consequences.

That’s Rafael Nadal’s stance on Maria Sharapova’s admission earlier this week that she tested positive for meldonium, a substance she says she didn’t realize had been banned in tennis just this year.

“I want to believe that for sure that it was a mistake for Maria. She didn’t want to do it,” Nadal told reporters Thursday at Indian Wells. “But it is a result of negligence. So the rules are like this. It’s fair. Now she must pay for it.”

Seems like a pretty straightforward answer to a question about Sharapova’s situation. But Nadal began his response with a rather lengthy discussion of his own innocence of any such wrongdoings and how horrible it is that anyone would even think of disrespecting the sport like that.


Of course, he had his reasons. Earlier in the week, former French Minister for Health and Sport Roselyne Bachelot publicly accused Nadal of doping.

“We know that Nadal’s famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive [drug test],” Bachelot said on French TV of Nadal’s hiatus from the sport in 2012. “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.”

It’s not the first time the 14-time Grand Slam winner has heard such allegations.

“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 get an injury. I never take nothing to be back quicker. And never had no temptation of doing something wrong. I believe in the sport and in the values of the sport. It is an example for the kids. If I am doing something that goes against that, I will be lying to myself, not to my opponents.”

The Spanish Olympic Committee said in a statement Nadal “has been submitted to innumerable anti-doping controls that he has always passed throughout his long career.”

Miguel Cardenal, the president of Spain’s Higher Sports Council, said Bachelot’s comments “slander of one of the most important athletes in history,” while Nadal’s coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, called Bachelot “an imbecile.”