Rafael Nadal’s Illness and Injuries Lead to Speculation of Steroid Use

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Rafael Nadal, one of the most successful Spanish tennis players in history, recently announced his decision to withdraw from the upcoming 2013 Qatar Open and 2013 Australian Open. His medical doctor and his coach confirmed that the decision was based on a stomach flu that has recently plagued Nadal. The decision is yet another in string of several last minute withdrawals due to injuries and illnesses. These have fueled speculation that they are somehow, some way related to anabolic steroids.

“My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors,” Nadal said in a statement. “But this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week, and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open.”

Nadal has never tested positive for anabolic steroids. While tennis players may not be tested as frequently as other sportsmen, Nadal was subjected to at least seven in-competition steroid tests and three outside-competition steroid tests in 2011. He passed all anti-doping tests without a single positive.

Nadal has never been linked to anabolic steroids. And none of his coaches or colleagues have claimed to have knowledge of steroid use by Nadal. Nadal has always vehemently denied the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

The only “evidence” put forward to suggest PED use has been the “muscularity” of Nadal’s physique. By bodybuilding standards, Nadal is not particularly muscular. The 6-foot, 1-inch tennis player only weighs 190 pounds. Nonetheless, his muscle tone and definition have raised suspicions.

Yannick Noah, the retired French tennis star, used muscle profiling as his justification for his allegations of steroid use among Spanish tennis players.

The popular French satirical television show known as “Les Guignols de l’Info” featured a life-size puppet representing Nadal as a heavily-muscled bodybuilder. The show claimed that Spanish athletes “don’t win by chance”.

Nadal missed several months of competition in 2009. This year his withdrew from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London only 15 days prior to its commencement. Many commentators speculated that Nadal was afraid of the unprecedented steroid testing in London. Sadly, any sudden withdrawals from competition in the future will inevitably be accompanied by further steroid speculation.

Rafael Nadal


Associated Press. (December 28, 2012). Rafael Nadal out of Aussie Open. Retrieved from