We live in a society that largely believes in second chances and forgiveness, especially when a transgressor comes clean of his or her own free will. As such, Your Humble Page 2 Correspondent has been a little surprised at the reaction to Andre Agassi's admission in his autobiography "Open" that he used crystal meth (and lied about it to the ATP). He also apparently wore a wig on the court back in the day, but that's another matter entirely.
While we hardly expected fans and former tour players to throw flowers at his feet for being so open about his past, the cutting words from Martina Navratilova (comparing him to Roger Clemens) were surprising. The words of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were less harsh, but were hardly forgiving ("To me, it seems terrible," Nadal said).
But the real one that caught our eye was Marat Safin saying Agassi should give back his money and titles.
Safin was quoted in L'Equipe newspaper saying Agassi should "give his titles, his money and his Grand Slam titles back." And there was much more:
"I'm not defending the ATP, but what he said put it in a delicate position," Safin said. "The ATP allowed him to win a lot of tournaments, a lot of money. It kept his secret. Why does he need to be so cruel with it? ... If he is as fair play as he says he is, he has to go to the end. You know, the ATP has a bank account and he can give the money back if he wants."
Perhaps tennis is different because it's an individual sport with (presumably) less camaraderie and more rivalry between players than, say, baseball or basketball. Sure, you can find former players and even a few current ones willing to take a stand against steroid users. But that seems to be a more immediate, performance-enhancing issue than what Agassi did. And we can't imagine any player suggesting A-Rod give back his salary from those years he admitted to using PEDs.
This admission from Agassi is not a bombshell you drop just to sell books. Agassi was apparently counting on the truth setting him free -- and on a reaction from his peers that largely hasn't materialized so far. Andy Roddick has his back, writing on Twitter that Agassi "is and always will be my idol." Aside from that, he's largely been given the cold shoulder -- perhaps to his surprise if we can extrapolate comments he made Sunday during a 60 Minutes interview.
"I would hope with that would come some compassion that maybe this person doesn't need condemnation," he told interviewer Katie Couric. "Maybe this person could stand a little help."
It's up to the beholder to determine if it's deserved, but it's interesting to note that lot of times, those who come clean without being pushed into a corner get just that.