Tennis, the true novel of doping

“Yesterday (Wednesday, September 30) I opened my eyes wide when I saw a strong and powerful player win who was still thin a short time ago, but obviously that does not seem to surprise anyone”. At the time of delivering the name, Florent Dabadie hesitates, then backs off. “Too dangerous, I’m sure of myself, but obviously I can’t say anything without proof.”

Mad about tennis, the son of screenwriter and academician Jean-Loup Dabadie, who rarely missed the fortnight of Auteuil until his death in May 2020, chose fiction to support his analysis on doping. The subject has haunted him for years, following tennis for Japanese national television, while appearing regularly in various federations. “People can object to me that I don’t have the guts to publish an investigative investigation, others have done it, but it’s not my temperament, it’s true I don’t want to risk my life for that “, he admits.

Everything is true except the main character

In her key novel, published at the end of August, almost everything is true, except for the main character, a young woman of Ukrainian origin of average level who gives in little by little to the sirens of doping. “ Masha does not exist, but she brings together a lot of characteristics of young players and players that I have seen play in recent years ”, he said. The profile is well known: omnipresent parents, themselves former athletes from Eastern Europe, who try to help their child take the wrong step of slowing down at the wrong time. “This concerns a lot of players I can safely say that more than 10% of professionals have taken doping products one day”.

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Are the stars concerned? “Here too, people will retort that I’m afraid to name famous names, but I honestly believe that great players do not need that”, said this young man who has been preaching on the subject for years in … the desert. His work does not have the impact he hoped for in the spans of Roland-Garros. “My name, in fact rather that of my father, opened the doors of the general media to me, but in the world of sports journalists it is omerta”.

In the middle of the players, it is even worse. Only the retiree Paul-Henri Mathieu, who split a preface, and Richard Gasquet who judges the words “realistic”, publicly support his approach. The others have not given any sign of life since receiving the book. As is Yannick Noah. “A friend of my father on whom I was counting, but who probably did not want to plunge back into the legal hell he experienced in 2011, after accusing the Spanish tennis players of being doped.”

Inoperative doping controls according to the author

If the forks of sports ethics often fall on the shoulders of cyclists, swimmers or rugby players, they generally spare tennis, a sport considered noble and above all suspicion. “ However, just look at the current players, they hit incredibly hard, run for hours and never seem tired, we often talk about the quality of training, nutrition, continues the journalist novelist, these points certainly count, but they are not enough to explain such performances ”.

What about doping controls, to which players are nevertheless regularly subjected? According to Florent Dabadie, they would be ineffective for the most common products, growth hormones or EPO microcapsules administered in minute doses by high-level doctors operating in sophisticated clinics. According to him, these establishments are located in Spain, Brazil or the United States. They carry out these activities, which are not always illegal according to local legislation, under cover of other perfectly legal specialties: fitness cures, cosmetic surgery operations, etc.

The names of some doctors mentioned in his book are known. Some have also been caught and appear in the book under their real identity, the name of Doctor Mugler, Masha’s main interlocutor, being an invention. The mafia sectors in charge of transport based in Naples, Montevideo or Sebastopol are also identified. But nothing is moving. “I think the police services have more urgent matters to deal with, Florent Dabadie analysis, in my opinion it is also easier to tap on matches fixed by betting companies in second-class tournaments, it doesn’t bother anyone to denounce these practices since they do not concern big tournaments and the economy that goes with them “.


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