The news about Rafael Nadal being linked to doping isn't new. For the last five years, the world's no.1 netter has endured accusations of taking performance enhancing drugs to give him a significant advantage during his matches. However, the latest accusation from long time critic Christopher Rochus could be the most blatant shot to Nadal yet.
Rochus, a former professional tennis player and the brother of Belgian netter Oliver Rochus, openly attacked Nadal during his championship match with Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2014 Australian Open. Serving as one of the anchors for Sports Euro's Australian Open coverage, Rochus accused the badly-hurt Nadal of faking his injury and taking 'shots' in the locker room.
"When he returned from the locker room he was limping. Then, surprisingly, he could run in the third and fourth set. Clearly left the track to get a shot," Rochus said.
Rochus, who reached his career high at no. 38 in the world rankings in 2010, received harsh criticisms from fans and several tennis players, including French netter Nicolas Mahut, who called the Belgian's comments on Nadal appalling.
As expected, Rochus came out days after to explain what he meant at that time, though he doesn't deny his allegation that Nadal indeed took a shot in the locker room.
It was not the first time Rochus attacked Nadal. In 2010, the Belgian also expressed his suspicion on Nadal and other tennis players taking advantage of ATP's lax rules on PED during an interview with LaLibre.
"Of course it is a reality. I was already said that more than ten years ago. It is a sport that has become more and more physical, so there are inevitably more temptations to take performance enhancing drugs. Now, with the Armstrong issue, we have to admit that just because someone has never tested positive, it doesn't mean that person has never doped.
"When one can afford good doctors to do personal research, it is possible to take undetectable drugs. So in my opinion, anti-doping controls are useless and they really don't prove anything. Regarding Nadal, those rumors are rumors even if everyone has the same question: How can you be so strong in Roland Garros and one month later, you are apparently unable to play? That's why it looks so suspicious, but we have no proof. Maybe he really is injured," Rochus said.
Nadal, who already withdrew from the tournament in Buenos Aires due to his ailing back problems, is expected to return just in time for the Indian Wells and Miami Masters later this month.