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SPORT – A 14th title hailed by the world of sport, but which leaves some athletes perplexed. The emotion of Rafael Nadal’s coronation at Roland-Garros had barely subsided when the first voices were raised on the question of the Spaniard’s infiltrations, to relieve the pain due to his illness.
“During this Roland-Garros, thanks to these infiltrations, I was able to fight on an equal footing with my opponents insofar as I felt the possibility of moving without fear”, explains the Spanish champion in The Team this Tuesday, June 7.
Statements that made Thibaut Pinot wince, a few hours after the end of Nadal’s match in the final on Sunday. “Today’s heroes…”, quipped on Twitter, the cyclist from the Groupama-FDJ team, in reaction to a statement by the tennis player who humorously assured that he did not want to reveal the number of injections received during tournament.
A disturbing difference in treatment
If the runners do not wish to call into question the talent and the recent title of Rafael Nadal, they nevertheless regret the glorification of an athlete who uses this practice extensively to alleviate his excruciating pain.
Au Parisian, a leading French cyclist preferring to remain anonymous, shares the exit of Thibaut Pinot and explains the anger of the riders: “Thibaut is 100% right. But I don’t want to involve my name in that because it will fall on me. But hearing that Nadal is a superman because he treats himself well and pushes the pain away, it can only make us bitter. If a cyclist says he was stung three times before a race and he no longer feels pain in his legs, what do you think we are going to say?
In The Teamit is another French runner, Guillaume Martin, who expresses his incomprehension in the face of this difference in treatment from one sport to another.
“What Nadal did would have been impossible on the bike, and I find that normal. If we are sick or injured, we don’t run, we don’t compete, that seems like common sense to me. For several reasons. First of all, for the health of the athletes […] And in addition, the drugs and even more the infiltrations do not only have a healing effect, it can certainly have effects on performance or be diverted in order to improve performance, so it seems very limited to me, ”says the climber of the Cofidis team.
A double standard that makes the world of cycling cringe, after several decades marked by doping and measures to stem the practice. “When Nadal said in a press conference: I’m looking forward to my doctor, no one reacted. Replace Nadal with Pogacar or Pinot and people would scream…”, adds Pascal Chanteur to franceinfo, boss of the UNCP, the union of French professional runners.
Standardize the rules for all sports?
If the anger and the incomprehension are very present, certain runners do not miss either arguments in favor of a standardization of the prohibitions of their sport to other disciplines like tennis.
“We don’t have the right to do this kind of thing and it’s better, it’s the way to go. When you start to open the door to something like that, that’s where the drifts happen. It’s a gray area and once you enter the gray area, it’s not good,” said Kenny Elissonde, also interviewed by franceinfo.
The Trek-Segafredo rider continues: “Me, I have always seen a double treatment: we are seen a bit like riders who dope while I think there is not much cleaner now than the bicycle”.
An observation shared by Guillaume Martin who clearly positions himself on the question: “I plead for a certain homogenization of the regulations between the different sports”.
To support his words, he compares his sport and that of Rafael Nadal, not so far apart in terms of physical effort. “Tennis, for example, has quite similar parameters with cycling, it’s an endurance sport with accelerations, so I think the same products can have a doping effect. In this case, I do not see why there would be different regulations”.
A positioning for the benefit of the health of athletes which opens a fundamental debate in the world of sport. To this, Nadal replies that despite his infiltrations, his level no longer allows him to “chase the first place in the world”, a sign of his physical decline beyond the infiltrations necessary to fight his illness.
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