Christophe Rochus fires parting shot on doping

by: October 31, 2010

In an interview with Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure, the retiring Christophe Rochus has said he believes doping takes place in tennis and that he "would not be against" the legalization of performance-enhancing drugs.

"There's a lot of cheating. Simply, people don't like to talk about it," he said. "I simply would like to stop the pretending. This hypocrisy is exasperating."

Rochus, who said he received a warning letter from the ATP after speaking out on the issue in the past, estimated he received 10-15 tests a year for ten years under the anti-doping program but believed some players managed to evade the system.

"I've seen things like everyone else. For me, it's inconceivable to play for five hours in the sun and come back like a rabbit the next day," he said. "I remember a match against a guy whose name I will not say. I won the first set 6-1, very easily. He went to the bathroom and came back metamorphosized. He led 5-3 in the second set and when I came back to 5-5... his nose began bleeding. I told myself it was all very strange."

Asked whether he was open to allowing the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Rochus said, "I would not be against it. Anyway, it exists.

"People who take these type of products know very well they take risks with their health. But they take it knowing because it could let them make a living for their entire family.

"There's the case of Canas, for example. I can cite his name because he has been caught twice, so one can assume he was doping. [Editor's note: Canas has received one anti-doping suspension under the ani-doping program. Mariano Puerta is the only tennis player to have received two suspensions.] In the end, he sacrified to make a living for for multiple generations of his family. His cause was almost noble."

Rochus also addressed past speculation that some sort of doping suspension was behind Justine Henin's sudden retirement in May 2008, from which she returned approximately 18 months. A standard doping suspension is two years.
"I heard [the rumours] like you," he said. All I can say is, I found it surprising, her sudden stop without apparent reason. Usually, champions like this announce several months in advance and do a sort of farewell tour."

Over the course of a three-part interview, Rochus also reflected on his career and compared the men's and women's game, saying depth and difficulty are far higher on the men's tour.

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