Chicago, IL – Chicago Bulls and Spanish national team star Pau Gasol defended tennis great Rafael Nadal after France's former sports minister accused him of doping, saying he had complete faith in his countryman.
"I disregard these statements that are baseless and lacking objective elements," Gasol said after the Bulls' 118-96 home loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night.
"I completely trust Rafa."
Noting that he had also been the target of doping allegations by some French media outlets, Gasol said that "baseless accusations, with no evidence, shouldn't happen."
Roselyne Bachelot, France's ex-minister of youth affairs and sports, accused the 14-time Grand Slam champion and nine-time French Open winner of doping in 2012.
"We know that Nadal's famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive (drug test)," Bachelot told a French TV program on Tuesday.
"When you see a tennis player who stops playing for long months, it is because he has tested positive and because they are covering it up. It is not something that always happens, but yes it happens more than you think," she said of the 29-year-old tennis star, who has never failed a drug test and vehemently denies ever having used performance enhancers.
Another prominent figure in the French sports world, 1983 Roland Garros men's singles champion Yannick Noah, in 2011 accused Spanish athletes of widespread doping, saying Spaniards outperform their French counterparts in different sports because they "have the magic potion."
"I don't know if they have something against Spanish athletes," Gasol said, adding that the best course of action is not to give the story more attention than it deserves.