Spain vowed on Friday to defend the “authenticity” of its sports stars’ achievements after a French satirical puppet show implied tennis great Rafael Nadal and other athletes are drug cheats.
The sketches on France’s Canal+ television show Les Guignols whipped up a storm of outrage in Spain, prompting its foreign minister to order a formal protest to French media.
One sketch featured a puppet likeness of world No. 2 Nadal refueling the tank of his car from his own bladder, a fill-up which powers up the car and leads to him being pulled over by police.
In another, a satirical advertisement asks people to donate blood to cycling champion Alberto Contador, who has been slapped with a two-year doping ban, and thus share in the glory of his cycling victories.
“We don’t understand or agree that certain media in our neighboring country have carried out such an attack,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in a reference to the sketches.
“The government will of course defend the authenticity of the achievements of our athletes. Many of them are an example of persistence and they defend their country wherever they go,” she said following a Cabinet meeting.
The deputy prime minister also defended Spain’s record in the fight against doping.
“Spain is a country which respects anti-doping rules. If you analyze the average number of sentences for this type of behavior, we are very much below this average,” she said.
Canal+ began airing the sketches on Monday after the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport that day handed a two-year ban to Tour de France winner Contador after he tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.
Contador says it was due to a contaminated steak eaten during the 2010 Tour de France, one of three editions of the race that he won. He said on Tuesday that his lawyers were looking into a possible appeal.
He posted a photo of himself on his official Twitter account on Friday riding his bike with the message: “Have returned to work. Sacrifice and hard training, that is the only secret.”
Nadal also reacted to the sketches, saying the Les Guignols show is a repeat offender.
“One day is okay, but when, from what I understand, it is done repeatedly then that is not so good because it crosses the line a bit. And it is always with the same focus,” the 25-year-old said, adding he had not seen the sketches.
Nadal said Canal+ alone was not to blame.
“I don’t think it is only Canal+ that does it. I think there are other media pushing it along and I think that is something punishable because in Spain sportspeople who are not clean are punished, they don’t compete,” Nadal said.
“It is a globalized campaign from the neighboring country,” he added. “With a lot less resources than them we have achieved much more in the last years so we are doing something better — it is not a question of pills or syringes, I can assure you.”
The front page of top-selling Spanish sports daily Marca ran a drawing of Spain’s sporting heroes, including the World Cup-winning soccer players with the headline: “They Are Not Puppets.”
On Thursday, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia--Margallo said he had instructed the Spanish ambassador to France to send a written protest to French media, including to Canal+.
Spain’s tennis federation said the previous day it would sue Canal+ for using its logo in the comedy sketches.
Canal+ called the reactions “disproportionate,” adding that Les Guignols is “a satirical program that has poked fun at French and international current events for over 20 years.”
While COVID-19 seeps daily into the consciousness of the White House, 1,900 kilometers away in Wichita, Kansas, a British tennis player is helping families who know poverty, but are yet to feel the full effects of the coronavirus. As Katie Swan waits for the Tour to resume — and for Wimbledon to decide whether or not to hold this year’s championships, scheduled to start on June 29 — she prepares part-time and turns the rest of her energies to helping disadvantaged people in her adopted city. The Bristol-born player has lived in Wichita for seven years with her mother, Nicki, her father,
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka on Saturday said that she is disappointed not to compete at the Tokyo Olympics this year, but supports the decision to postpone the event. The 22-year-old former world No. 1 wrote on Twitter that she thinks the event will be better for moving to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time is not now,” Osaka wrote. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to postpone the Olympics after athletes worldwide expressed concern about trying to stage the spectacle
All qualifying events for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup and the 50-overs version in 2023 that were scheduled to be held before June 30 have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said yesterday. The pandemic has brought global sport to a standstill and the ICC said in a statement that the World Cup qualifiers would also be affected. “In light of the significant global health concerns at the current time and the restrictions on movement imposed by governments across the world, the ICC has taken the decision to postpone all events up until the end of
Even to Sister Jean Delores-Schmidt, the lovable nonagenarian nun and team chaplain who became a star during Loyola University Chicago’s stunning run to the Final Four two years ago, this is new territory: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought big chunks of the world to a near standstill. “This is very different,” said Sister Jean, who turns 101 this year. “Spanish flu was just about over in 1919 when I was born and so I only know about that through hearsay and what my family told me... I’ve lived through the Depression, I’ve lived through World War II and all these other