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9 Jun, 2022 15:46

Cyclist questions Nadal’s French Open injections

A French cyclist says Nadal's injections would have been frowned upon in his sport
Cyclist questions Nadal’s French Open injections

Rafael Nadal's comprehensive French Open victory has been called into question by a French cyclist, who claims that the series of painkilling injections he received to treat a chronic foot problem would have been seen in a different light have they occurred in cycling. 

Nadal earned a record-extending 22nd Grand Slam win of his illustrious career with a straight sets win against Casper Ruud at Roland-Garros last weekend but revealed afterwards that he believes he was only able to compete at the clay court event thanks to a series of painkilling injections he received before matches, which he said put his foot 'to sleep'.

The Spaniard has been battling foot issues since 2005 when it was found that he was suffering from a rare hereditary problem but he had initially treated it successfully with the use of an insole in his shoes.

However, the problem re-appeared last year and forced him to miss several events including Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympics. 

But on his route to victory in France this month, Nadal stated that he had switched up his treatment strategy. 

“I still had not injected my nerve, Nadal indicated to the media.

“After the Moutet match, we concluded that I could not keep injecting myself where I had been because it continued to worsen. We chose to inject the nerve at a distance, which was good. We would never have gotten to this point if we had not done that.”

However, this hasn't gone down well with some figures in cycling: a sport which has been blighted by both drug-taking and accusations of doping for much of its recent history. 

First, French cyclist Thibaut Pinot sarcastically wrote "the heroes of today" in response to a tweet mentioning Nadal's painkilling regimen while another, Guillaume Martin, elaborated on the issue while speaking to French publication L'Equipe.

“What Nadal did would have been impossible in cycling, and I find that normal, noted Martin.

“If you're ill or injured, you don't race, you don't compete, that makes sense to me, for several reasons. Firstly, for the health of athletes. In the long-term I'm not sure that will do any good to Nadal's ankle.

“Moreover, medication - and especially injections - don't just have a healing effect; they can certainly have effects on performance or be twisted to improve performance, so it seems to me to be very much on the limit.

He added: If a cyclist does the same thing, it's already banned, but even if that wasn't the case, everyone would pile on, branding them as doped because there's such a cultural background, such clichés attached to cycling.

“Meanwhile people laud Nadal for being capable of going deep into pain. I believe [footballer] Zlatan Ibrahimovic also spoke about injections in his knee.

“They pass as heroes because they go deep into pain, but in fact, they avail of substances in order to go deep into pain and, once again, it's very much on the limit.

"The winner in cycling, in particular the Tour, even if there's nothing to it, is systematically accused of doping.

Nadal, 36, has already said he would not follow the same procedure with injections in order to compete at Wimbledon later this month, leading to fears he will miss the grass court showpiece.