Rafal Nadal’s diseased foot injections raise suspicions that he was doped at Roland Garros. What the WADA director says

The cycling world, plagued by huge doping scandals over time, is now in turmoil after Rafal Nadal won his 14th Roland Garros title with injections in his left foot.

It all started with a few words and emoticons on social media. A Eurosport journalist, Laurent Vergne, he returned on Twitter an excerpt from an interview that Rafael Nadal gave on this television station, on Sunday, after winning the 14th title on the Parisian clay, an absolute record. “I played without feeling anything standing. I played with a nerve injection and my leg was asleep, so I was able to play “, explained Rafael Nadal. Asked by Barbara Schett how many injections she had during the tournament, the Spaniard replied with a laugh, “You better not know.”

The Eurosport journalist’s tweet provoked a lot of comments, and cyclist Thibaut Pinot publicly expressed his indignation: “Today’s heroes …”, he wrote ironically.

Nadal, on crutches. He suffers from a rare disease that causes bone necrosis

In 2018, Rafael Nadal, the athlete with the most Grand Slam titles in history (22), underwent surgery on his right ankle. He later learned that he was suffering from a rare disease: Muller-Weiss syndrome, which causes necrosis of the navicular bone. It was also the reason why, in August 2021, withdrew from competitions – the pain was unbearable. However, Nadal returned in force in 2022 and started the year with a new title at the Australian Open, and on Sunday he won the Roland Garros trophy.

In fact, a few days after the triumph in Paris, back in Mallorca, Nadal was caught on crutches as he got out of a car, and the images with the current 4th ATP place quickly went viral online, according to digisport .ro.

A podiatrist, Raul Ramos, said that his patients who suffer from the same syndrome as Nadal “can only go on with normal life with treatment. They are not elite athletes, so in Rafa’s case, what he does is inexplicable, superhuman “, said the doctor.

Director of the Anti-Doping Agency: “The border is clear”

However, Rafael Nadal is defended by the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (AMA / WADA), Olivier Niggli, who explained, on a Swiss RTS radio show, that the Spanish tennis player did not dope, reports Agerpres.

According to the director general of AMA / WADA, the border is “clear”. Olivier Niggli reminded that the fight against doping is part of a list of banned products. “If a product is on the list, it means that it has an effect on performance, that it is bad for health and is against the ethics of sport,” he said on Thursday in the RTS show “La Matinale”. Anesthetic injections are not banned, he said.

“It simply came to our notice then. The problem arose. It was discussed. They are not on the list, because we believe that they do not improve performance and are not fundamentally bad “, explained the WADA director.

Their use by athletes is “another debate,” Niggli said. “Is it a good medical practice? Is it acceptable for an elite athlete to inject before a match? It’s a debate between doctors. A debate on medical ethics, “he added.

The Spaniard treated the pain during a competition “without putting him in a position to favor him,” said Niggli. “Rafael Nadal has won 14 titles at Roland Garros. If he won another thirteen without injections, it was probably not because of the injections that he won the 14th, “the AMA / WADA official continued.

Niggli: “The punishment of the athlete is one. But if we do not attack the system behind it, we will not change the situation. “

Beyond Nadal’s “case”, Niggli explained that the fight against doping “has progressed a lot” since the institutionalized doping of the Festina team in the 1990s and the Armstrong-US Postal system in the 2000s. a step ahead of the anti-doping “gendarmes”, especially due to the evolution of science.

“We now have agreements with the pharmaceutical industry, which allow us to have access to the molecule of a new drug before it is placed on the market. Laboratories can thus develop anti-doping tests, “he explained. This allows AMA / WADA to be ready, after having to wait for a product to be used by an athlete before being detected.

He also said that the anti-doping strategy is no longer just about controls, but now about investigations. “Investigations make it possible to dismantle the network, the entourage … The punishment of the athlete is one. But if we do not attack the system behind it, we will not change the situation, “Niggli said.

Editor: Luana Pavaluca