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  • Agassi book reveals 1997 drug-test scam

    10/28/09 10:16 AM | Johan Lindahl
    Agassi book reveals 1997 drug-test scam Andre Agassi has revealed that he once lied to the ATP to escape sanctions for taking the illegal drug crystal meth during a low point in his career in 1997.

    Excerpts from his autobiography to be published November 9 reveal details of the scam.

    Parts of the book, published on the website of the Times of London, tell how the eight-time Grand Slam winner got away with his deception.

    Agassi writes that he did the drug with his assistant, and after he was caught, he lied to the ATP. He claimed in his letter to the governing body of men's tennis that he had accidentally drank from a glass spiked with the drug by the assistant, who he has since "fired."

    "Then I come to the central lie of the letter. I say that recently I drank accidentally from one of "Slim's" spiked sodas, unwittingly ingesting his drugs. I ask for understanding and leniency and hastily sign it: Sincerely.

    "I feel ashamed, of course. I promise myself that this lie is the end of it. The ATP reviewed the case — and threw it out."

    Since retiring in 2006 - and even before - Agassi has gained the reputation as a philanthropic saint in his home city of Las Vegas for starting a grades K-12 school for disadvantaged children. He puts on a charity gala each September in Vegas which raises millions for his charity and is studded with Hollywood and sporting stars.

    In the Times, he reveals that he received a heart-stopping call from an ATP medical official concerning a doping test. "He reminds me that tennis has three classes of drug violation.

    "Performance-enhancing drugs... would constitute a Class 1, he says, which would carry a suspension of two years. However, he adds, crystal meth would seem to be a clear case of Class 2. Recreational drugs." That would mean a three-month suspension.

    "My name, my career, everything is now on the line. Whatever I've achieved, whatever I've worked for, might soon mean nothing. Days later I sit in a hard-backed chair, a legal pad in my lap, and write a letter to the ATP. It's filled with lies interwoven with bits of truth."

    Agassi, married to fellow former great Steffi Graf and father of two children, was on court in an exhibition in Macau as recently as last Sunday,when hen he lost to longtime rival Pete Sampras.



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Comments

The confusing thing about this article is where it says "Agassi writes that he 'unwittingly' took the drug, claiming in his letter to the ATP that he had unwittingly drank from a glass spiked with the drug by a former assistant."

My question is did he unwittingly take the drug or did he lie by saying he unwittingly took the drug? The rest of the article implies the latter. If so, it's the lying that is the least impressive thing about this affair.

Dana99 , 10/28/09 10:53 AM


Dana99,from the way i understand it.. he lied.He knew what he was doing:( It's just a sad situation.

alik , 10/28/09 12:16 PM


Dana, he took the drug on purpose.

It certainly sheds light on what the ATP was willing to...swallow in an effort to protect their biggest star. To me, that's the sad part. As for Andre himself? It doesn't make me think less of him. He was in a bad place and made a bad decision. I surely would think differently if he'd taken a performance enhancing drug. He didn't cheat, he was just....foolish.

cherylmurray , 10/28/09 12:44 PM


This is not going to help Gasquet against the ITF wanting him to serve a longer ban. Unfortunately for Gasquet, he is not a big star. Tennis stars had better think of another excuse apart from accidentally ingesting drugs, because this one has been exposed as not credible.

What possessed Agassi to confess in his book, it actually makes the ATP look foolish. The thing is, the publishers always want something to sell the book, because lets face it, everyone knows pretty much everything about Agassi, so he needed something to grab the headlines.

Where does that leave him now? Could the ATP shun him and not allow him anywhere near their tournaments?

carrie , 10/28/09 1:24 PM


I'm sorry Cheryl but to me a drug is a drug.No excuses.and why tell it now..to help sell his book.More publicity.
All these people coming out of the wood works telling their deep dark secrets...M Phillips(father issues),B.Waters(sex w/black man),and others..just to sell a book.

alik , 10/28/09 1:33 PM


I would have to disagree with you, alik. A drug is most certainly not a drug. Drugs taken with the intent of cheating the other players around them is quite a bit different that a drug taken because you are at the end of your rope and no longer care about yourself. It is, so to speak, a WORLD of difference.

THe motive behind the BIG REVEAL is a different matter altogether.

cherylmurray , 10/28/09 1:46 PM


It's not a level playing field when it comes to recreational drugs in public life. Sport is the only genre punished for it, in the case of the Arts, like acting or singing, it actually enhances their profile, it doesn't affect their livelihood. Performance enhancing drugs are a completely different kettle of fish.

carrie , 10/28/09 1:57 PM


Cheryl, do you see any parallels between this and the Serena incident? Meaning, that high-ranking officials seem unwilling to punish their biggest star?

Rafterfan , 10/28/09 2:26 PM


Well it's not like we did not know/suspected! He was a brain midget throughout his career. In my world, where I come from, a drug is a drug and using it only shows how mentally vulnerable somebody is. Agassi is coming out of the closet after all these years. Why? Of course to get publicity for his new book, so people can buy it hoping that after reading it they will dig out some more dirty laundry. I am actually waiting on some other current and former players to come out with stories about roids........ I am certain, of course without evidence, that a lot of the players are on roids.......... I certainly suspect ATP still covers up a lot even today with some of the tennis stars, not that I am implying something.......... The day they conduct random testing for all players at the same time at a GS will be the day I will start believing the field is clean of drugs and or roids (same Stuff in a different package with a different label). Can you just imagine what would that be like and how disappointed we would be with our favorite players? Until that day, we all live in a fantasy professional corrupted tennis world of today! Very, very sad!!!!!!!!

arailic , 10/28/09 2:35 PM


I'm appalled by the preferential treatment of Agassi for taking illegal drugs and then coming up with a weak excuse to explain such a thing. He should be bounced from tennis for a long time for such shoddy behavior.

Signed,
Richard Gasquet

SenorPlaid , 10/28/09 2:38 PM


rafterfan - there is at least some connection, yes. The question we should ask ourselves is this. What if Gilles Simon did it? What if Gilles simon had tested positive for meth? or What if Svetlana Kuztensova had threated to stuff a tennis ball down a lineswoman's throat? Would their punishment have been the same? of COURSE not. They'd have been banned IMMEDIATELY.

cherylmurray , 10/28/09 2:54 PM


Cheap Marketing trick. Bad decision (to tell now).

jessica4stein , 10/28/09 2:58 PM


Some things (like using crystal meth) are better left unsaid. I never liked Agassi during his career but began to respect him due to his longevity. This just lowers my opinion of him back to where it was 15 years ago. I know that brains and success in sports dont always make sense, but to admit this to the world (at any time) is simply idiotic. This is something you take to your grave.

Also missing from the info is did he take it just once? Ive never done drugs but Im thinking most people just dont jump from being "goody two shoes" straight into meth which they say is the most addictive drug out there.

Slicer , 10/28/09 4:46 PM


I don't judge if he took (or is taking drug), it's his life. But why telling the world now? What's the point? to sell books (Steff and he have too much money and fame already). To make ATP looks stupid? I don't see the point. If you want to confess, go to your church. Oprah is not your church.

jessica4stein , 10/28/09 7:04 PM


Another Agassi confession from Times Online:

'The 1992 Wimbledon champion, the winner of eight grand-slam titles, also says that he has always secretly hated playing tennis and lived in fear of his bad-tempered and violent father.'

carrie , 10/28/09 7:18 PM


This whole thing hits a little too close to home for me. My ex-husband was an alcoholic addict and living with that was beyond a nightmare. I realize that Agassi's revelation does not mean that he was a drug addict, but it is extremely disturbing. Crystal meth is a dangerous drug that can cause serious changes in behavior.

I wish celebrities could refrain from these tell-all books. I don't necessarily need to know everything about their lives. But I must agree with those here who said that this was done to help the book sell well. I think Agassi would have been better off keeping this to himself. He said that this came at a time of great personal upheaval and crisis in his life, so I don't want to condemn him too harshly. But I think it could taint his reputation as one of the great tennis players.

I liked it when we didn't have to know so much about the private lives of star athletes, celebrities or political figures.

Nativenewyorker , 10/29/09 12:47 AM


Whoa this is disappointing as Agassi was my favorite player for a long time. Oh well I guess it just shows what happens when you drop out of school early and are not well educated. Look at Capriati and Hingis and what they got into. As far as the ATP goes they'd look stupid if they allow him to give out any Grand Slam trophies from here on out. He pretty much sold out just to sell a book and if he wanted to come clean or ask forgiveness he should have gone to confession or asked God's forgiveness and kept it private. This could be held against his children (albeit unfairly) should they become tennis professionals. What was he thinking?

chr18 , 10/29/09 1:20 AM


I, like Slicer, never really liked Agassi anyway, though I always respected fans who loved the guy. However, now my original negative feelings are more pronounced - and not because he took crystal meth for awhile (more folks than we care to admit do dumb things like that). It's because his choice of an excuse to the ATP involved not only lying about his own behavior but laying the blame on someone else! His assistant may have been a drug addict, but was it right for Agassi to name him in the letter and do the cowardly finger-point? And now for Agassi to "reveal all" for book sales? Pshaw....he's looking more and more like a sell-out to me.

Dana99 , 10/29/09 1:32 AM


When i heard this in the sportsnews the first thing came to my mind was WHY THE HECK NOW? i mean c,on i dnt give a damn if u done The wost thing ever but just make sure u dnt tell me when u finished ur career and many pple consider u as legend. God knws watever reason is behind but surely this has to be one of the idiotic incident happen in 2009 nominated a tennis athletic .

Believe , 10/29/09 6:43 AM


No doubt this will rub off on Steffi as well, someone who's reputation has been totally untainted, all because of cashing in on his book. Serena's book is selling well even though she hasn't come out with any outrageous dark secret to promote it. I'm sure Agassi has enough fans who would buy his book just for the sake of it.

Players had better beware, no one is going to believe anything they say anymore regarding injesting banned substances. Gasquet positive result was made public but Agassi's was kept quiet, that's not treating all the players the same.

Big mistake.

carrie , 10/29/09 9:05 AM


homos, i actually agree with you to a degree, but as you know crystal meth is NOT a performance hancing drug...it is a recreational drug. I also dont think that AA divulged this for money....he doesnt need the money...he is a millionaire ten times over....His book is being serialised in the Times, and for those of you who are interested in the 'whys'...read on....BUT i think it is a bit unfair to start having a go at a man who did something wrong in his life, admitted it...yes it will have repercussions...but it was AA's decision at that time......i think he probably did this because it was a 'cleansing of his soul'....and he probably told his wife about it anyway......people are so judgmental......everyone gets low in their life/some more than others...and we do different things.....action...reaction...cause and effect and all of that....but when i started reading this yesterday, i felt sorry for AA because his father has got to take a big part in the way that he 'moulded' his son......His father was a nutcase...a puritanical ogre...one example: (His father carried an axe with him everywhere - when he went out driving in his car)....

'I'm driving with my father one day, and he gets into a shouting match with another driver. My father stops his car, steps out, orders the man out of his. Because my father is wielding his axe handle, the man refuses. My father whips the axe handle into the man's headlights and tail lights, sending sprays of glass everywhere.....Another time, my father reaches across me and points his handgun at another driver. He holds the gun level with my nose. I stare straight ahead. I don't move. I dont know what the other driver has done wrong, only that it's the automative equivalent of hitting into the net. I feel my father's fingers tensing on the trigger. Then I hear the other driver speed away, followed by a sound I rarely hear - my father laughing. He's busting a gut......Such moments come to mind whenever I think about telling my father I dont want to play tennis. Bad stuff happens when my father is upset......

Can you imagine being brought up on an elastic band environment since you were young...being stretched to the limit, mentally and emotionally? Im surprised he didnt snap years ago......

This is exactly the moment that AA took the meth and the circumstances surrounding it - as printed in The Times Wednesday, October, 28 2009..

I'm at my house in Las Vegas, watching TV with Slim, my assistant. Im in a bad way. Gil's 12 year old daughter, Kacey, who broke her neck in a snow-sledding accident, isnt doing well after surgery. Meanwhile, my wedding to Brooke Shields looms. I think all the time about postponing it, or calling it off, but I dont know how. Slim is stressed too. He was with his girlfriend recently, he says and the condom broke. Now shes late. He announces that theres only one thing to do. Get high. He says, You want to get high with me?
On what?
Gack.
What the hells gack?
Crystal meth.
Who do they call it gack?
Because thats the sound you make when youre high. Your mind is going so fast, all you can say is gack, gack, gack.
Thats how I feel all the time. Whats the point?
Make you feel superman dude.
As if theyre coming out of someones mouth, I hear these words....You know what? sic...yeah...Lets get high. I consider the rubicon Ive just crossed......There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness, then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head......Im seized by a desperate desire to clean......

there is more everyone....but may be later.......anyway...i know its long....but i think before everyone starts judging AA, there is always a background to a decision like this.......

.....its about AA and his decision, based in my opinion living a life of violence at home...that is evident....he was ready to snap.....





malteser , 10/29/09 12:35 PM


To carrie, I think Steffi's accomplishments have been tainted by the fact that one of her psycho German fans stabbed Seles so that she could be #1 again. She would have won far fewer Slams if that wouldn't have happened. Not saying she was behind it but she certainly benefited from it wouldn't you say?

chr18 , 10/29/09 1:12 PM


Now here you go(lol)...now, i'm going to start thinking all kinda undercover stuff has been going on all these years(lol)..which it probably has..i just didn't want to think about:)
Someone told me yesterday that JMac was not inducted because of his cocaine use? does anyone know if this is true?

alik , 10/29/09 1:32 PM


alik...johnny mac took cocaine?
you can't be serious!?
I didnt read anything of that in his autobiography...serious...?

malteser , 10/29/09 1:41 PM


First you get the cocaine, then you get the slams, then you get the power!

SGHIceman , 10/29/09 2:17 PM


malteser , 10/29/09 2:37 PM


ahhh...it all makes more sense now...after reading the following....agassi had nothing to lose....no action can be taken against him because of the statute of limitations...(mentioned at the end of the article)....

Agassi gets a mixed reaction....
Andre Agassi's admission in his upcoming autobiography Open that he'd used crystal meth and lied to avoid a suspension drew a range of reactions from around the tennis world Wednesday.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez, a former player who was a contemporary of Agassi's, described the drug revelations as disappointing and "a bit of a shock."

"It takes a lot of guts and courage to come out and say something that nobody would have really known about," Fernandez said. "Maybe people can learn from it and not make the same mistakes."

The admission could also make Agassi some money, suggested public relations expert Gene Grabowski.

"It fits in with the story arc of his redemption," said Grabowski, who guides high-profile figures ? Roger Clemens is a client ? through public relations crises.

"It's going to make Andre Agassi even richer. This is going to help him sell his book," Grabowski said.

Agassi reportedly received at least $5 million for the book; the first printing is a half-million copies.

"His book will probably sell. It seems very interesting, to say the least," Venus Williams said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency wants tennis authorities to shed light on Agassi's admission that he escaped a suspension by blaming his positive drug test on a spiked drink.

WADA leader John Fahey said Wednesday he is disappointed by the revelations in Agassi's upcoming autobiography.

Fahey admitted WADA ? which was founded in 1999 ? can't take any action against Agassi because of the agency's eight-year statute of limitations.

Associated Press


malteser , 10/29/09 2:43 PM


for any one who is interested...there is a 2 minute video clip of agassi explaining WHY he wrote about the meth incident....its pure atonement.....

google the following....it's worth watching.....

Andre Agassi explains why he wrote controversial autobiography
By Chris Chase

malteser , 10/29/09 2:51 PM


malty, correct. jmc didn't mention it in his autobio. most of the pages were taken up about how horrible and unreseanable his girlfriends and wives were to poor him! :)

homos , 10/29/09 2:55 PM


Malt,"i'll stick with the Lucozade sport..Ice."

Off topic..but did you mean Ice skating? did you see palviachanica(check spelling)(a Russian) skate the other day after being out of competition for awhile..Man..he was good!..my goodness!! hasn't lost a step!

alik , 10/29/09 3:57 PM


alik....no.....i was responding to Iceman!.....(see his post above)......

alik...watch the video clip above of andre....so sincere.....he isnt a nasty guy and i dont think this revelation should do anything to tarnish his image....at least...i hope not...

malteser , 10/29/09 7:54 PM


Well, I agree with NNY on this one. I can't stand all this horrible shallow, voyeuristic gawping at the trivial lives of celebrities which these "tell all" memoirs encourage. Also, if Agassi needed atonement then he should have sought it in private.

deuce , 10/29/09 8:51 PM


deuce,

Thanks for your gracious comments. It's nice that we have found some common ground. I also wanted to say that my ex-husband was not only an alcoholic/addict, but a violent abuser. I know what it's like to be in that situation, but it didn't lead me to use drugs as a means of escape. Just seeing what happened to my husband as he sank deeper and deeper into his horrific addiction, was enough to make me never want to touch drugs. I somehow survived, got a divorce and managed to move on with my life.

I would normally never reveal anything this personal, but this has hit a nerve with me. I don't think that growing up in an abusive family is in any way an excuse to use drugs. There are other ways of dealing with this type of terrible experience. I chose to get counseling and even joined Al-Anon, to help me understand how to live with someone in the throes of addiction.

All I am saying is that you have a choice as to how you wish to deal with the scars inflicted upon you. AA chose to escape with a very dangerous drug. I am happy that he managed to get his life together and is now happily married. He is much more fortunate than many others. Many do not make it back.

I am not here to condemn him, but merely to express my disappointment about this revelation so many years after the fact.

deuce summed it up perfectly - you can find atonement and peace in private. That's where it should be done. I am just tired of these public confessionals from everyone from movie stars, tv personalities, athletes and political figures.

Nativenewyorker , 10/29/09 11:11 PM


While we're at it, here's a funny comment on Agassi's latest, reportedly from CBS columnist Ray Ratto:

?Hope it?s very therapeutic for him. Hope it causes someone else to walk away from meth, or coke, or Peruvian poisonous toad extract, or whatever else is out there now. We?re not here to kick a guy now that he?s back up, although in fairness we?ve always found honesty to be more refreshing when it doesn?t come at $31.99 a copy.?

Dana99 , 10/30/09 2:59 AM



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