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Henin trying to manage asthma, might skip Olympics

8/4/2008 - Tennis

MADRID, Spain -- Justine Henin might not defend her Olympic
gold medal in Beijing because of concern the city's air pollution
will trigger her asthma.

Henin withdrew from the China Open in September because of her
asthma and is worried she might be forced to skip the Beijing Games
next August.

"I've had asthma for a few months now and I felt very bad in
New York at the end of the [U.S. Open], so Beijing, I was really
concerned about that," Henin said Monday at the Sony Ericsson
Championships. "I was pretty disappointed because I wanted to play
the [China Open] and get used to the conditions."

Henin said she has since controlled her asthma with the help of
a specialist.

The air quality in Beijing is "a big problem" International
Olympic Committee inspection team leader Hein Verbruggen said. His
remarks came a week after the United Nations said air pollution was
a major concern for athletes' health ahead of the games.

"It's true that Beijing is going to be tough with the Olympic
Games with the problem I have, but now it seems that everything is
under control, which is important because the Olympic Games remain
a very important goal for me in 2008," Henin said.

She also backed tough action by tennis authorities to ensure the sport
stays clean in the wake of growing concerns about match-fixing
and doping.

"My tolerance in doping and match-fixing is zero, but we
can't accuse anyone until we have proof," she said.

"It is unfortunately a scourge that appears to affect all
sports but we have to make sure it doesn't affect tennis."

Men's tennis has been hit by a series of allegations about
match-fixing in recent months while the women's game was rocked
by Martina Hingis' revelation that she tested positive for
cocaine during Wimbledon. Hingis denied
she had taken the drug.

"On match-fixing the only thing I can say is that I've never
been approached by anyone about anything and I've never heard
about anything like it," said Henin.

"I'm not saying that doping and match corruption don't exist
but I've never been approached ... I'm sure the ATP and WTA will
do everything to ensure we keep a healthy and fair sport.

"For doping it is the same. I don't want to make any comment
about Martina's situation but the thing is we want to keep a
clean sport and a healthy sport because we all give our best
when we play.

"Tennis is a great sport and we have to keep the image of
the sport pretty good. We want to make sure people keep loving
tennis.

"I have been tested around 10 times this year but that is no
problem for me. I'm all in favor of it as long as the
authorities respect the private life of the athletes."

Henin begins defense of her WTA Championships title with
her first round-robin match against 20-year-old Russian Anna
Chakvetadze on Tuesday.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters is included in this report