We live largely in a society that believes in second chances and forgiveness, especially when a transgressor comes clean. As such, we've been a little surprised at the reaction to Andre Agassi's admission in his autobiography that he used crystal meth (and lied about it to the ATP). He also apparently wore a wig on the court, 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 Navratalova (comparing him to Roger Clemens) were surprising. The words of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were less harsh, but they were still 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. From the AP:
Agassi admitted in his autobiography "Open" that he used crystal meth in 1997 and failed a drug test, a result he says was thrown out after he lied by saying he "unwittingly" took the substance. Safin, who plans to retire this month, said in an interview with L'Equipe newspaper on Tuesday that Agassi should "give his titles, his money and his Grand Slam titles" back.
"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?" Agassi, who retired in 2006, won 60 titles, including eight Grand Slams, during his career. He recently told The Associated Press that he had to speak about his lies because he couldn't live with it anymore.
"If he is as fair play as he says he is, he has to go to the end," Safin said. "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.
In any event, this 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. "I would hope with that would come some compassion that maybe this person doesn't need condemnation. Maybe this person could stand a little help," Agassi said on 60 Minutes this past Sunday.
A lot of times, those who come clean without being pushed into a corner get just that.