McEnroe says he took steroids unknowingly

Updated: January 14, 2004, 6:12 AM ET
Reuters

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Andre Agassi, defending the integrity of tennis dented by the Greg Rusedski nandrolone affair, on Wednesday said he was at a "loss for words" over John McEnroe's comments about drugs in the sport.

Former world No. 1 McEnroe, now a respected broadcaster and tennis pundit, told a British newspaper on Sunday that he had been given steroids without his knowledge during his career.

"For six years I was unaware I was being given a form of steroid of the legal kind they used to give horses until they decided it was too strong even for horses," McEnroe said.

"So people have to become more aware of what they are putting into their bodies. In general people are administered drugs too readily."

Agassi, in Melbourne before the defense of his Australian Open crown, was incredulous.

"Well, you try to find the understanding in why some people choose to say the things that they do and in reference to those specific quotes or admissions, I am not quite sure who that benefits.

"I just find myself (at) a bit of a loss for words when it comes to that sort of stuff being expressed. I'm not sure what to say about that."

With the media focus on Rusedski and the Briton's admission last week that he had tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone at a tournament in the U.S. in July, Agassi once again leapt to the defence of the sport.

"Our game is built on sportsmanship, it's built on respect for the game, and I think there were many years when it wasn't the business that it is today," he said.

"As the nature of the game has changed I think it has left room for the potential, like any other sport, for the odd person to look for an advantage, even an unfair advantage.

"But with that being said, I believe the game has evolved every bit as quickly when it comes to the process of detecting the cheats.

"I just find that every positive test that may come out is a reflection of just how serious our drug-testing program is.

"I think we have moved with the times, I think it is a very healthy approach towards the drug-testing process."

Rusedski says he is convinced he will be cleared of any wrongdoing at a hearing in Montreal on Feb. 9.

He says that more than 40 top tennis players have shown "elevated levels" of the substance, and argues that he is being singled out.