How Andre Agassi Should Respond to His Critics

Rob YorkSenior Writer INovember 6, 2009

LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 26: Andre Agassi arrives at the 14th annual Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation's Grand Slam for Children benefit concert at the Wynn Las Vegas September 26, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

What Martina Navratilova said: "Shocking. Not as much shock that he did it as shock he lied about it and didn't own up to it. He's up there with Roger Clemens, as far as I'm concerned. He owned up to it, but it doesn't help now."

"Andre lied and got away with it. You can't correct that now. Do you take away a title he wouldn't have won if he had been suspended? He beat some people when he should have been suspended."

How Agassi should respond: Apparently, when you win enough majors, you feel you have the right to pass judgment on anyone who has won less. Sadly, Martina, your memory isn’t as good as your Grand Slam record: I didn’t win any titles while I was using meth, and only won a total of 12 matches in 13 tour events.

But I have to credit you for your analogies: The Clemens comparison is really, really original and not knee-jerk at all. Really. It’s appropriate, too, as long as you forget the fact that Clemens is said to have taken a drug that actually helps performance, as opposed to one that ravages people physically.

And the fact that Clemens never admitted to using it. And the fact that Clemens hasn’t done a fraction of the things off-court that I have to help his sport.

Other than those things, though, it’s right on.


What Rafael Nadal said: "To me it seems terrible. Why is he saying this now that he has retired? It's a way of damaging the sport that makes no sense. I believe our sport is clean and I am the first one that wants that. Cheaters must be punished and if Agassi was a cheater during his career he should have been punished."

How Agassi should respond: Yeah, I should have been punished, but that’s on the ATP and not me. In the long run, what I’ve said here will help the sport because I’ve revealed the laxity and the double-standard that once existed in the game’s policing of substance abuse.

I understand that in your position, Rafa; you want the game you love to be a clean one. Your reaction, though, is similar to a press secretary for an embattled politician who’s blaming the media for reporting where his boss does his fund-raising.


What Roger Federer said: "It was a shock when I heard the news. I am disappointed and I hope there are no more such cases in future. ...Our sport must stay clean."

How Agassi should respond: Though similar to Rafa’s statement at first glance, there’s not much that’s judgmental or puritanical here. Frankly, there’s nothing for me to disagree with; as a former meth user, I feel as strongly as anyone that there shouldn’t be any cases in which players use it, much less get away with it.


What Andy Roddick said: "Andre is and always will be my idol. I will judge him on how he has treated me and how he has changed the world for better. To be fair, when Andre wrote the reported letter, he was well outside the top 100 and widely viewed as on the way out."

How Agassi should respond: Even if he isn’t the most cerebral guy on tour, he’s definitely one of the wisest.


What Andy Murray said: "I loved Andre, met him numerous times, and he was unbelievably nice to me. I practised with him a lot. I guess it's something he has to deal with himself. He's entitled to say whatever he wants, and I wish him the best."

How Agassi should respond:
Andy, you’re not just really thoughtful on the court.


What Boris Becker said: "He is only doing harm to tennis. I am asking myself 'why is he making this confession?' "You could forget about it if he had had too many beers or smoked a joint. But we are talking about one of the worst drugs: crystal meth is a synthetic stimulant and one of the most dangerous drugs.

"I feel disappointed as an athlete. He has won many Grand Slams, some of them against me. If he won those because he was on speed it's simply unfair,"

How Agassi should respond: Actually, Boris, all the news reports were pretty clear that I only took meth for a year, and when you look at that year it obviously didn’t help my success. And while you’re apparently bewildered as to why I’m making this confession, it pretty clear you haven’t given it much in the way of deep thought. I’d encourage you to do so, but wouldn’t want to give you a migraine.

I do have to wonder where does a guy who fathers a child out of wedlock in a stairwell get the ‘nads to condemn another guy’s personal life, though.


What John Inverdale said: “You say it wasn't easy being so 'candid; and 'brutally honest.' It will hopefully be extremely easy for all of us to leave your book where it belongs. Lying unwanted on the shelf.”

How Agassi should respond: John Inver-who?