Home Sports Controversy around Nadal’s infiltrations: “He did nothing illegal”

Controversy around Nadal’s infiltrations: “He did nothing illegal”


Rafael Nadal returns home to Mallorca, with his 14th Musketeers Cup in his luggage. But for our editorialist Virginie Phulpin, the Spaniard has something heavier to bear: the controversy over infiltrations to relieve his foot. He did nothing illegal, but one can wonder about these practices.


It becomes difficult to enjoy a moment of sport, to admire a performance without controversy getting involved. Rafael Nadal’s 14th title at Roland-Garros was quickly followed by suspicion. “It’s better that you don’t know,” replies the player when a journalist asks him how many infiltrations he received during the tournament to relieve his painful foot.

Rafael Nadal, a “doped”?

Infiltration is almost a dirty word. As soon as it is pronounced, we do not think of a drug or a treatment, we think of doping. A syringe plus a sportsman equals cheating. Obviously, this challenges, to be obliged to receive infiltrations permanently in order to be able to play, one must ask oneself questions, it is legitimate.

But from there to calling Rafael Nadal “doped”, there is a world. What are these infiltrations? A local anesthetic, that is to say a product that acts directly on the desired area, in this case the nerves of his foot, to numb them. It turns out that it’s not doping, it’s allowed in tennis and in other sports like football.

Rafael Nadal therefore did nothing illegal, he did not use any prohibited product. You can imagine that if it was an illicit product, he would not have spoken about it during the whole fortnight with the utmost naturalness in the world.

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There are two weights, two measures in the fight against doping

What ignited the powder after the coronation of Rafael Nadal was the reaction of Thibaut Pinot. The cyclist went there with his ironic tweet: “Ah, the heroes today”. We can understand his annoyance because cycling and tennis are not in the same boat. The anesthetic we are talking about has been banned on bicycles for a good ten years, while it is legal on tennis courts. A real problem, a difference in treatment.

It must be said that cycling has been so affected by doping problems that the fight there is fiercer than elsewhere. Hide this syringe from me, which I cannot see. I mentioned football earlier, we also have a famous example of a player who regularly returns to the field thanks to infiltrations, it is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Otherwise, he couldn’t play.

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Safe anesthetics?

Why not standardize the list of prohibited products? The same in all sports. This would avoid this kind of controversy, it would allow for equal treatment. And then, it would also preserve the health of athletes. These anesthetics are not without danger. Rafael Nadal said it, he will not do this treatment again for Wimbledon. That means it’s not trivial. The risk is to damage these nerves and create even more pain. What to do after? Increase the dose? The case of Nadal must lead to reflection. On the other hand, hitting a player who has not done anything illegal, no.

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