NEW BATTLE FOR NADAL AND R-FED?
On July 6 Rafael Nadal dethroned Roger Federer as the king of Wimbledon. It’s considered one of the greatest matches of all time, and yes, we’re still talking about it. Why? Because it just takes one asinine member of the media to mention the word ‘doping’ in the same sentence as Wimbledon and we got a new scandal. And boy am I pissed. I’m willing to bet a million bucks (which I don’t have) that if Roger Federer had won his sixth title, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But because it’s the buffer, leaner, stronger, more disciplined player who won-he must have been cheating…and a dirty Spaniard? Wimbledon? Oh I can hear the conservative British panties bunching from here.
I hadn’t even entertained the thought of either Nadal or Federer ‘doping’ until I read the aforementioned article. It makes me sick to even address this issue, but its important because I suspect its gonna be the subject of debate for years to come. What really set me off was a phone call I got from a friend.
“Ya know your boys juicing, right,” he said.
“Huh, who? What?” Ian Poulter- juicing- I thought to myself?
“Nadal, Wimbledon” he corrected me, “I know people on the tour, he’s juicing,” he said again.
I could literally feel my blood slowly start to boil. (Good rumors always start off with an I-have-a-friend-admonition. Anyone remember the Richard Gere ‘gerbil’ stories from the late 80’s? Didn’t everyone have a “friend” that ‘worked in the hospital Gere was brought to?’)
Anyway…my anger, I realize now, came from a place where steroids didn’t exist. Not for one nano-second did it enter my mind that either one of the worlds top two tennis players were taking some sort of performance enhancing drugs. The glorious high I felt from Rafa’s stunning victory was deflated with one single careless accusation.
We were given a gold-plated diversion from the usual world of sports- a great rivalry between two outstanding athletes-unspoiled or tainted by such distractions as China, Darfur, foreclosures, DUI’s, rapes, murders, home-invasions, cheating, strippers, weed, smog, traffic, earthquakes, tsunamis-whatever- it was pure. It was real and it was beautiful. How dare uninformed, misguided naysayers take away the one game that made us feel something other than disgust with our athletes.
Is the basis for this rumor planted in Nadal’s Spanish blood? Racism perhaps? Ignorance maybe? Its not like Nadal suddenly appeared out of thin air-for god’s sake, when he was 15-years old (2002) he won his first ATP match. Don’t think Federer won a match before his 16th birthday? By the following year, Rafa had become the second-youngest player in the top 100. And has everyone forgotten that Nadal was only 17 when he made his Wimbledon debut?
And are we forgetting that while Nadal was busting his ass practicing, Federer was busy texting with his new celebrity buddies like Tiger Woods? Are we ignoring the 81-consecutive clay-court match winning streak Nadal had while R-Fed was busy filming his Gillette commercial? My point isn’t to rip on Roger Federer because “they” are speculating that he “may have been” doping as well. If you know anything about the man, you know this is absurd. My point is that just because we live in a ‘steroids era’ doesn’t mean all victories are won at the hands of cheaters.
I’m not feigning ignorance to the fact that some tennis babes may have dabbled in the juice…but I highly doubt either Nadal and Federer would need to tap into anything other than their natural talents to give us a spine-tingling, mind-numbing, double-de-licious piece of history. So keep your rumors to yourselves people- because unless Nadal and Federer stand in front of me, pee in a cup and test dirty-I aint buying into this ridiculous buzz kill and baseless rumor for one second.
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda Lombardo