Agassi shocked, saddened by Armstrong confession

Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:35am EST
 

By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andre Agassi was shocked and saddened by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong's confession to using performance-enhancing drugs and the eight-times grand slam champion said tighter, more frequent dope testing procedures in tennis would be good for the sport.

The American, who co-founded a philanthropic organization with Armstrong and other athletes like Muhammad Ali, women's World Cup winner Mia Hamm and NBA champion Alonzo Mourning, said he had been convinced of Armstrong's innocence.

"Well, my reaction to it is the same as everybody. It was shock, hard to stomach, sadness, disappointment. I think 'anger' is a fair word," Agassi told reporters at Melbourne Park on Friday.

"I was certainly one of those that flat out believed him that long period of time. The thought of it not being the case was unconscionable to me."

Armstrong, 41, admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last week that he used performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it for over decade, finally owning up to being at the centre of one of the biggest drug scandals in world sport.

In 2007, Agassi and Armstrong were two of the founders of the organization Athletes For Hope which helps educate professional athletes on how to raise money and the profile of charitable and philanthropic causes.

Armstrong is still listed as one of the founders of the organization on its website (www.athletesforhope.org), though he does not have a biography link on its front page.

The 42-year-old Agassi, who admitted to recreational drug use in his autobiography "Open", said he felt that tennis was relatively clean and doubted anyone would be able to get away with the systemic level of doping that Armstrong admitted to.   Continued...

 
Two-time U.S. Open champion Andre Agassi waves before being inducted into the U.S. Open Court of Champions, which celebrates the legacy of the greatest singles champions in the history of the tournament, in New York September 9, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque