Mixed reactions over former star's cocaine bombshell
Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:45AM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 12:33PM
Martina Hingis was a great champion and achieved pretty much everything there was to achieve in tennis. Let's not discuss her Hall of Fame career. And let's acknowledge that probably the only person in tennis who is glad she's taking center stage is Nikolay Davydenko. But even in the post-BALCO age, in the wake of Marion Jones' hollow apology-admission, and as Barry Bonds states publicly that he will boycott the Hall if they put an asterisk on his ball, the news of Hingis' positive drug test still seems rather shocking
I really enjoy the sport of tennis and want to believe it is clean. I want to believe Hingis' declaration of innocence. Jones, and so many others, have been appalled at the doping accusations leveled against them -- until the evidence is undeniable. Putting aside the differences between recreational drug use versus performance-enhancing drugs, should we just wait for that moment to arrive in this case as well? Or do we continue to give the benefit of the doubt to every Tyler Hamilton, Ben Johnson and Floyd Landis who comes our way?
Obviously there were a lot of questions this week about L'Affaire Hingis and, while it's an absolute bombshell, I suspect we'll never know the truth and this forestalls a lot of the discussion. If the test result was inaccurate -- as Hingis vigorously contends -- it's obviously a great tragedy, not simply because it occasioned the end of her playing career, but because she exits the sport so ignominiously. On the other hand, if she were really reckless enough to snort blow during Wimbledon, let's just say that she engenders significantly less sympathy.
This event was bizarre -- even by tennis' exalted standards -- and, to the extent there are two "sides," both have reason for skepticism.
"For all the gossip one hears in tennis -- coaches molesting players and players getting abortions and mobsters frequenting back courts -- one sure doesn't hear much about cocaine. It doesn't sound right to me."
"So what? You didn't hear match-fixing either and now look at the landscape."
"But if she did do coke, would she really do it during Wimbledon? Had she just waited a few days it would have been an out-of-competition result."
"Since when is drug use rational?"
"For all the robots out there, here was a player with interests beyond tennis, some consciousness, a game that relied on thinking. It just doesn't add up."
"And Owen Wilson attempts suicide. Even people we think we know well -- and not from cartoonish media accounts -- can do inexplicable things."
"Look at poor Guillermo Coria. Isn't it entirely possible that [Hingis'] sample was mishandled or something was mislabeled?"
"Sure. But when was the last time an athlete tested positive for a banned substance and didn't have an alibi?"
"Hingis had a hair test done immediately after getting the result and it exonerated her."
"Then why did the 'B' sample show traces of coke, too?"
"One thing we all know about Hingis: She was always an absolute straight shooter. When she categorically denies this, I take her at her word."
"And Marion Jones said she never did drugs either. Besides, if Hingis were really innocent, wouldn't she fight this to the death? I see her retirement as an admission of guilt. So does this guy."
"Disagree. I totally see where she's coming from. Look at, say, Sean Sherk in the UFC. He's contending his positive steroid test and is losing millions of dollars. He's hired lawyers. He's lived in an unending universe of appeals and tribunals and hearings. Hingis is 27, wealthy for life and, realistically not winning any more big titles. She needs to spend two years in legal hell so -- best-case scenario -- she's cleared to play at age 29?"