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Andre Agassi admits he took crystal meth

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-10-29

Tennis hero Andre Agassi has admitted he tested positive for crystal methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug, in 1997 and lied to sporting authorities to escape a ban.

AFP - Tennis great Andre Agassi has admitted he tested positive for hard drugs during his career and lied to sporting authorities to escape a ban, reports said Wednesday.

Agassi, one of the world's greatest tennis players with eight Grand Slam titles, reveals in his autobiography to testing positive for the highly addictive drug crystal methamphetamine.

The champion, now 39, also says that he has always secretly hated playing tennis and lived in fear of his bad-tempered and violent father.

In the book, serialised in London-based The Times newspaper, Agassi reveals how he took crystal meth in 1997 when his form was falling and he was having doubts about his impending marriage to US actress Brooke Shields.

He duped the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) into believing he had taken the drug -- possession of which carries a maximum five-year jail sentence in the United States -- by accident, according to the newspaper's website.

The repercussions for Agassi's career could have been disastrous if the positive test was made public at the time.

In the book, Agassi recounts sitting at home with his assistant, referred to only as Slim, and being introduced to the drug.

"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," he said.

"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."

That same year he received a phone call from a doctor working for the ATP informing him that he had failed a drugs test - for which he could face a three-month suspension for using recreational drugs.

"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, the newspaper cites the book as saying.

In 1997, Agassi pulled out of the French Open and slumped down the world rankings in a loss of form.

But he resurrected his career in 1998, making the biggest one-year leap in history into the top 10 before going on to win the French Open the next season. He finished at number one in 1999 after taking the US Open.

One of the pillars of the game, Agassi is currently married to former number one women's tennis player Steffi Graf.

Date created : 2009-10-28