Henin trying to manage asthma, might skip Olympics

Updated: August 4, 2008, 1:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

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.

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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