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Sport – Agassi’s confession comes as a shock

Washington: So much of Andre Agassi’s life has been spent in the public eye — the various highs and lows, on and off the court, during his transformation from tennis brat to elder statesman — that it was possible to wonder how much more there was to be said about it all.

Plenty, it turns out. Excerpts of Agassi’s upcoming autobiography published on Wednesday by Sports Illustrated and The Times of London contain graphic depictions of his use of crystal meth, an account of how he wriggled his way out of a suspension by lying to the ATP Tour after failing a 1997 drug test, and the jarring contention that he always hated tennis.

If image is indeed everything, as Agassi used to say to sell a sponsor’s cameras, he has provided new, indelible, behind-the-scenes images — along with raising questions about why he chose to reveal his crystal meth habit.

“Is it cathartic? I don’t know. I think it’s strictly from the heart. That’s the way he has operated in my view, going back to the latter portion of his playing career,” said Arlen Kantarian, who ran the U.S. Open from 2000-08. “I’m sure he feels good about getting it out on the table.” Agassi, who won eight Grand Slam singles titles before retiring in 2006, is not explaining himself at the moment.

His representative referred interview requests to his publishing company, which has set up a “60 Minutes” appearance on November 8, the day before the book’s scheduled release.

U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary-Joe Fernandez, a former player who was a contemporary of Agassi’s, described the drug revelations as disappointing and “a bit of a shock.”

“It takes a lot of guts and courage to come out and say something that nobody would have really known about,” Fernandez said.

“I’ve always admired Andre. He was a huge part of inspiring my generation, and he did a lot of great things and continues to do a lot of great things. He’s opening up now, and that’s his choice. Maybe people can learn from it and not make the same mistakes.”

Calling Agassi “an icon of his sport,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said, “If his admission would go together with the message to young athletes that it should not be repeated, then that would be useful.” — AP

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October 30, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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