Yannick Noah recently drew fire with an unprovoked invective against all Spanish athletes, whom he accused of doping. In a Le Monde interview, he referred to a “magic potion” that Spanish athletes use to gain an advantage in the competition. He made no reference to a specific athlete or any specific case. He then went on to support legalized doping.
“A thief thinks everyone else is like him. It strikes me as odd that someone of questionable honesty would speak ill of Spanish athletes.”
“[Yannick Noah] does not deserve any respect … I’m not going to call him Mr. because a person who speaks that way isn’t one. If he should speak to Rafa, I hope my nephew will tell him exactly what he thinks of him…”
“You can be jealous, but if you feel badly, at least keep quiet.”
It was reported that French tennis player Michael Llodra, who is competing in the doubles competition at the London WTF, personally apologized to Rafa and Uncle Toni for Noah’s comments. He said, “I’m sorry for what Noah said. It was stupid and (makes a gesture for drunkenness).”
J.W. Tsonga remarked, “I haven’t seen the Spaniards yet. I hope they’re not too affected. For now, I consider this all fake. We have no proof of doping.”
No one knows what provoked Noah to make such serious accusations. The fact that he has no evidence to back up such a claim only highlights the inanity of his comments.
It should be noted that this year, Noah was at the Tour de France presentation that unveiled the route for 2012. Cycling’s top rider Alberto Contador is currently undergoing a case for a positive doping test from 2010. While the particulars of that case are beyond the scope of this post, the case has understandably drawn a lot of attention. In the process, the UCI and WADA have spoken out against Spain’s doping controls.
It was probably Contador’s nationality and the earlier Operation Puerto doping case, which originated in Spain, that spurred these remarks from Noah. In cycling, the French Festina affair, where police raided the team cars during the Tour de France and uncovered syringes and PEDs, spurred a wave of anti-doping reform in France. Since then, French cycling is perceived as being much more clean (this is sometimes used as a reason/excuse for why French cyclists haven’t been as successful in recent years).
Although there are problems with doping in Spain, to make an outright accusation against every successful Spanish athlete is the equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot. The two are not the same and Noah was rightfully scorned in the press for his remarks.
The only point I want to make is that his remarks are not 100% baseless, either. While you can scoff at Noah for making a claim for which he has no proof and for targeting only the Spanish athletes, you shouldn’t dismiss the root of his remarks as 100% nonsense. Noah certainly killed his credibility with his remarks and he’s not the most appropriate person to speak about the topic (given his history with marijuana and tax evasion).
As one Twitterer commented,
yannick noah does realize he looks like a dope-smokin’, patchouli-stinkin’ raging rasta stoner hippie, right?
In the end, Noah’s only injured the image of tennis as a sport and he’s done so without having any proof. It was also vicious of him to further the unfortunate stereotype that only the Spaniards are doping. It’s unfortunate because I still see hints of it when journalists speak about Spanish athletes. For now, so much credit goes to Michael Llodra, for his conduct and the way he took it upon himself to apologize to Rafa and Uncle Toni for his compatriot’s remarks.