World number five Rafael Nadal has filed a lawsuit against former French government minister Roselyne Bachelot, who has accused him of doping.
“I intend to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career,” the Spaniard, 29, said in a statement.
Last month, former Minister of Health and Sport Bachelot said Nadal’s seven-month absence in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test”.
Nadal said he had tendinitis and a virus.
“I wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence,” added 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal.
He had already announced his intention to sue Bachelot, saying: “I am tired about these things. I let it go a few times in the past. Not any more.”
Bachelot, 69, served in Nicolas Sarkozy’s government from 2007 to 2010. She has since left politics.
Nadal has denied he has ever used a banned substance to get an edge or to speed up recovery from injury.
“I have never had the temptation of doing something wrong.”
Nadal added: “I believe in the sport and the values of the sport.
“It is an example for the kids and if I am doing something that goes against that, I will be lying to myself, not lying to my opponents.”
Nadal has never failed a drugs test but has been the subject of speculation that he dopes.
In 2011, former French Open champion Yannick Noah wrote a newspaper article saying Spanish sporting success was due to doping.
A year later, a satirical French TV show featured a life-size likeness of Nadal filling up his car’s gas tank from his own bladder before being pulled over by traffic police for speeding.
Then in 2013, Belgian former professional player Christophe Rochus questioned Nadal being able to dominate the 2012 French Open and then be injured two weeks later at Wimbledon.
Nadal said he has taken advantage of some new treatments for his knee problems, like stem-cell therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, often known as blood spinning.
“I have been open all my career,” he said. “I never tried to hide nothing that I did. I did PRP and then I did stem cells.
“The first time with PRP it worked fantastic and the second time it was bad. I had to stop playing tennis for seven months.
“With stem cells, I used it two times on my knees and it worked very well. I am not doing, never did, and never going to do something wrong.”
Nadal added that he trusts a doctor to monitor what medication he takes.
“He has been the doctor for all the Spanish players for a number of years,” he said. “I would never take nothing that he doesn’t know about.” (Reuters)