Friday 30 September 2016

'I am proud to be part of a clean sport' - Novak Djokovic dismisses Andy Murray's suspicions

Jim White, in Berlin

Published 19/04/2016 | 08:10

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic kisses the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin last night
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic kisses the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin last night

As he picked up his award for Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Novak Djokovic said that he was proud to be “part of a sport that is clean”. Mounting a passionate defence of tennis’s integrity, the Serbian champion insisted that he did not share Andy Murray’s concerns that the game was tainted by doping.

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“No I don’t,” he said as he was given the award for the third time. “As long as we don’t have proof that game is not clean, then it is clean. I’ve read what he [Murray] said, I have great relationship with Andy, I’ve spoken to him, he didn’t mean specific individuals.”

Murray had alluded to widespread rumours circulating in the dressing room on the circuit of systematic abuse among players that went beyond the recent discovery of Maria Sharapova’s pharmaceutical habits. But Djokovic did not share his rival’s belief that there was no smoke without fire.

“It’s tricky for tennis,” said the Wimbledon champion. “There’s many stories that go round - betting, match-fixing, doping - it seems the weight has come down on tennis. But I think it all comes down to anti-doping agencies, governing bodies; they need to come out with proofs, if they don’t it’s only rumours. I’m proud to be part of a sport that is clean.”

Djokovic beat a glittering array of other nominees, including Lewis Hamilton and Usain Bolt, to the title. As he made his way up to the stage to receive his trophy, he made a point of embracing his coach, Boris Becker, who had earlier in the day insisted that any suggestion of his player being involved in doping was “disrespectful”. And Djokovic himself pointed out that his overwhelming domination of his sport was the result of hard labour and a balanced life rather than any recourse to the medicine cabinet.

“I’ve worked very hard to perfect my game, to get it to another level,” he said of his success since the first time he picked up the trophy in 2012. “I tried to keep myself healthy with the lifestyle I’ve had. The last couple of years everything came together, not one particular thing, it is a very holistic approach to life and sport that has brought me to where I am.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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