Nadal: Spain overreacted

2012-02-14 13:29

Madrid - World number two Rafael Nadal says Spaniards have given too much publicity to a French satirical puppet show that ridiculed drugs taking by Spanish sports stars.

"They are a bit obsessed by the doping question in France," the 25-year-old tennis star told Antena 3 television late on Monday.

But "in Spain we have given them more publicity that we should have," he added.

The sketches on Canal Plus France's television show "Les Guignols" whipped up a storm of outrage in Spain, prompting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo to order a formal protest to French media.

One sketch featured a puppet likeness of world number two Nadal refuelling the tank of his car from his own bladder, a fill-up which powers up the car and leads to him being pulled over by police.

In another, a satirical advert asks people to donate blood to cycling champion Alberto Contador, who has been slapped with a two-year doping ban, and thus share in the glory of his cycling victories.

"The first sketch they did is tolerable, but to do another one afterwards is going too far. They are only puppets but they can wrongly influence many people's perception of Spanish sport," he said.

Nadal said Spain's sporting success - including football wins in the Euro 2008 and the World Cup 2010; six Roland Garros wins for Nadal; and the European basketball championship in 2011 - is down to hard work.

"The explanation is simply that a series of generations have triumphed. There is always a bit of luck in it, but effort, the winning spirit and work are vital."

Nadal struck out at French tennis great Yannick Noah who wrote in November in French newspaper Le Monde that doping was widespread in Spain.

"If you haven't got the magic potion, it's difficult to win," Noah said. "They appear to have stumbled across a whole potful of the stuff. Lucky devils."

"That is intolerable, seeing who its coming from," Nadal said.

"That people who don't know sports say it is one thing, but people who are in it know how professionalised the sport is. I have already had three or four anti-doping tests this year, it is impossible to cheat."

The French TV show aired the drug-taking satire after the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport last week handed a two-year ban to two-time Tour de France winner Contador after he tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.

Contador says it was due to a contaminated steak eaten during the 2010 Tour de France. He said on Tuesday that his lawyers were looking into a possible appeal.