x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Agassi full of praise

Andre Agassi says he does not believe he would have fooled the tennis authorities over his drug use if he was still playing the game today.

Andre Agassi says he does not believe he would have fooled the tennis authorities over his drug use if he was still playing the game today. The American shocked the world when he admitted he failed a test for crystal meth in 1997 and then subsequently lied to escape a suspension. The ATP, the governing body of the men's game, have been criticised for allowing the former great to talk his way out of the situation, with the American candidly revealing all recently in his autobiography, but he said: "In 1997 we were at the infancy of drug testing.

"This was pre-era of sensationalising drugs in sport and, as a result of tennis pushing itself forward to protect its integrity, we reached out to the World Anti-Doping Association two years later and they've been a fabulous partner who've done a tremendous job in protecting that integrity of keeping drug cheaters out of the sport. "They've tested me specifically 150 times. Our sport should be proud of how we've moved forward through this day and age. I don't think it's so easy, not when you're getting tested 15 or 20 times a year. It's a very sophisticated approach now. It's thorough, it's random, urine and blood, and any initial positive test is run though a process."

Agassi, who won eight grand slam titles and was the last man before the Swiss maestro Roger Federer to triumph at all four events, kept his drug-taking a secret and does not know whether other players also escaped censure. He said: "People around me didn't know I was doing it. My wife at the time [the actress Brooke Shields] didn't know. "They saw the results of how I felt. I did appear depressed, disconnected, disengaging with my tennis and with some relationships. You can only hide it for so long.

"I turned it around before I actually confided in anybody." * With agencies