Hingis retires amid drug allegations


You may have heard that five-time Grand Slam champion and former Wimbledon winner Martina Hingis admitted last week that she’s been accused of testing positive for cocaine at Wimbledon. She also announced her retirement from professional tennis.

Hingis lost in the third round of that Wimbledon tourney, 6-4, 6-2, to Laura Granville. She lost in the third round of the U.S. Open, and hasn’t played since her second-round loss to Peng Shuai of China in Beijing on Sept. 19.

The retirement was announced last week during a press conference. The 27-year-old Swiss player said she was accused by “an outsource testing company” of using cocaine at the prestigious tourney in Great Britain this summer. She said she was “shocked and appalled” when she learned that her urine sample tested positive after her loss to Granville.

“I find this accusation so horrendous, so monstrous, that I’ve decided to confront it head-on by talking to the press. I am frustrated and angry,” she said.

After the initial test, Hingis said she underwent a privately arranged hair test, which came back negative for cocaine. However, the official backup “B” sample test on her Wimbledon urine sample tested positive.

Hingis stressed in the press conference that, as an athlete, she’s wary of ingesting any drug.

“They say that cocaine increases self-confidence and creates a type of euphoria. I don’t know. I only know that if I were to try to hit the ball while in any state of euphoria, it simply wouldn’t work.

And I know one other thing: I would personally be terrified of taking drugs.”

The amount of time and energy it would take to fight the charges led to the decision to retire. Hingis also alluded to the fact that tennis is largely a young woman’s game, and her body is tiring of the strain.

“I have no desire to spend the next several years of my life reduced to fighting against the doping officials. The fact is that it is more and more difficult for me, physically, to keep playing at the top of my game. And frankly, accusations such as these don’t exactly provide me with motivation to even make another attempt to do so.”

This all happened last week. On Monday, however, word came out that Hingis may be backpedaling on not fighting the drug charges.

Despite her claims of not wanting this whole business hanging over her head for years, it appears the World Tennis Association may be in damage control mode. WTA Tour chief Larry Scott told BBC Radio Five Live that he has all expectations that Hingis will fight to clear her name.

“There is a bit of a contradiction I read in her statement,” he said. “Everything that she and her representatives have said to me is that they are going to fight it. There was some suggestion in her statement that she might not have the stomach to fight it, and her retirement might signal that she wouldn’t fight it. I actually believe she will fight it and do everything possible to clear her name.”

Scott is looking at reasons why Hingis may have tested positive.

“There are a lot of different theories. Martina has said her drink could have been spiked or something like that.”

Someone spiked her drink with blow, and she had no idea? Not leveling any accusations here, but one would think that if one’s drink contained cocaine, certainly not a benign drug, one would notice. Especially one with a fine-tuned athlete’s body.

Scott concluded, however, “The burden of proof is on the athlete to prove their [sic] innocence.”

A messy business indeed, and a potential sad end to a record-breaking career. In 1997, at the age of 16, Hingis became the youngest female player ever to lead the world rankings. She won three straight Australian Open titles, and she won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open championships in ‘97. That same year, she came within one match of winning the Grand Slam, losing only in the French Open final.

1/23/02, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Australian Open Tennis 2002. Anna Kournikova (Russia) and Martina Hingis (Switzerland) congratulate each other after their doubles quarter final victory.

There will undoubtedly be more to come on this matter, but as for herself, Hingis said, “I believe I am absolutely, 100 percent innocent.”

Yikes, shades of O.J. there. She could’ve chosen those last words a bit more carefully.

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