Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Andre Agassi and Crystal Meth

by Savannah

This has been breaking tennis news all day. It sounds self serving to say that Agassi's change in physical appearance has made me suspect him of drug use for some time but it did. It also makes me wonder about that rage filled episode in 2001 that he got away with. I just didn't suspect meth. Meth is not a drug that is used casually under any circumstances.

There was supposedly an embargo on this story. It wasn't supposed to break until early November. But it's out now. It seems that the old canard applies here about people in glass houses.

The 1992 Wimbledon champion, the winner of eight grand-slam titles, also says that he has always secretly hated playing tennis and lived in fear of his bad-tempered and violent father.

Agassi, now 39, relates how he took crystal meth - possession of which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence in the US - in 1997, when his form was falling and he was having doubts about his impending marriage to the actress, Brooke Shields.

Had the positive drugs test become public, the repercussions for Agassi could have been catastrophic. It remains to be seen whether repercussions will follow his confession.

In his book, Agassi recounts sitting at home with his assistant, referred to only as Slim, and being introduced to the drug. "Slim is stressed too ... He says, You want to get high with me? On what? Gack. What the hell's gack? Crystal meth. Why do they call it gack? Because that's the sound you make when you're high ... Make you feel like Superman, dude.

"As if they're coming out of someone else's mouth, I hear these words: You know what? F*** it. Yeah. Let's get high.

"Slim dumps a small pile of powder on the coffee table. He cuts it, snorts it. He cuts it again. I snort some. I ease back on the couch and consider the Rubicon I've just crossed.

"There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I've never felt so alive, so hopeful - and I've never felt such energy.

"I'm seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds."

In the autumn of a year in which he pulled out of the French Open and did not bother to practise for Wimbledon, Agassi is walking through New York's LaGuardia airport when he gets a phone call from a doctor working with the ATP.

"There is doom in his voice, as if he's going to tell me I'm dying," Agassi writes. "And that's exactly what he tells me."

Agassi learns that he has failed a drugs test. "He reminds me that tennis has three classes of drug violation," Agassi writes. "Performance-enhancing drugs ... would constitute a Class 1, he says, which would carry a suspension of two years. However, he adds, crystal meth would seem to be a clear case of Class 2. Recreational drugs." That would mean a three-month suspension.

"My name, my career, everything is now on the line. Whatever I've achieved, whatever I've worked for, might soon mean nothing. Days later I sit in a hard-backed chair, a legal pad in my lap, and write a letter to the ATP. It's filled with lies interwoven with bits of truth.

"I say Slim, whom I've since fired, is a known drug user, and that he often spikes his sodas with meth - which is true. Then I come to the central lie of the letter. I say that recently I drank accidentally from one of Slim's spiked sodas, unwittingly ingesting his drugs. I ask for understanding and leniency and hastily sign it: Sincerely.

"I feel ashamed, of course. I promise myself that this lie is the end of it." The ATP reviewed the case - and threw it out.


1 comment:

mjgrace22 said...

I feel even worse for Hingis now.