20 Nov 2011

Anger in Spain at Noah's doping claims

5:36 pm on 20 November 2011

French tennis great Yannick Noah has drawn an angry reaction in Spain after accusing the nation's athletes of widespread doping.

In an interview with Le Monde newspaper the 1983 French Open champion said French athletes no longer had a chance against their Spanish opponents and the only way to level the playing field would be to allow everyone to use banned drugs.

Noah says France is wrong to impose such stringent testing on its athletes and questioned how Spain can dominate sport, asking whether the country has discovered avant-garde training techniques and methods that no one else imagined.

He made the controversial claim that as Spanish athletes are consistently beefier than French ones, the only conclusion was that they must be doping - but offered no other proof.

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal's uncle and trainer Toni Nadal hit back, saying Noah's accusation comes from envy.

Noah's son Joakim plays for the Chicago Bulls basketball team in the NBA, which made his comments all the more surprising to Spanish tennis player David Ferrer, currently ranked number five in the world.

Ferrer was quoted as saying in the El Pais newspaper that as Noah's son plays in the NBA, where there are not any anti-doping controls, then perhaps he is not the most appropriate person to speak about this.

However, in recent years NBA players Rashard Lewis, Darius Miles and OJ Mayo have all copped 10 game suspensions for breaking the league's anti-drug policy - the standard ban for a first offence.

Barcelona football coach Pep Guardiola told a press conference following his team's win over Zaragoza that Noah should present his evidence or shut up, and French Minister for Sports David Douillet condemned Noah's accusations as irresponsible.