Andre Agassi said he was shocked by Lance Armstrong’s public confession to Oprah Winfrey and saddened by the disgraced cyclist for using performance-enhancing drugs, and said a new system with more frequent dope testing procedures is needed in sports.
Agassi, who co-founded a philanthropic organization with Armstrong and other athletes like Muhammad Ali, women’s World Cup winner Mia Hamm and NBA champion Alonzo Mourning, said he had been convinced of Armstrong’s innocence.
“Well, my reaction to it is the same as everybody. It was shock, hard to stomach, sadness, disappointment. I think ‘anger’ is a fair word,” Agassi said in a statement. “I was certainly one of those that flat out believed him that long period of time. The thought of it not being the case was unconscionable to me.”
Armstrong, 41, admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last week that he used performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it for over a decade, finally owning up to be at the center of one of the biggest drug scandals in world sport.In 2007, Agassi and Armstrong were two of the founders of the organization Athletes For Hope, which helps educate professional athletes on how to raise money and the profile of charitable and philanthropic causes.
Armstrong is still listed as one of the founders of the organization, though he does not have a biography link on its front page.
Agassi, 42, who admitted to recreational drug use in his autobiography “Open,” said he felt that tennis was relatively clean and doubted anyone would be able to get away with the systemic level of doping that Armstrong admitted to.
“It’s a sport where I wouldn’t know how to get away with that level of cheating. It’s a year round sport,” Agassi said. “It’s an out of body governance, a third party governance. When last I played, it was comprehensive in the sense of nearly every tournament, nearly week to week, blood, urine, out of competition testing.”
Agassi tested positive for methamphetamine during his career, but lied to ATP officials about how it got into his system, claiming he had consumed a drink spiked with the drug.
In fact, Agassi felt that his own drug use, and how he avoided a ban, may have helped tennis in pursuing more vigorous drug testing programs.