The world No. 1 Rafael Nadal has sued the former French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot and demanded €100,000 as she tried to defame Nadal with a dope case cover-up allegation.
In 2012, the 31-year-old had missed the summer Olympics and the last Grand Slam of that season due to a knee injury after his Wimbledon match against Czech ace Lukáš Rosol.
Bachelot has served as a sports minister from 2007 to 2010. In 2016 March on French television she said that the Spaniard had spread the fake news about his knee injury in 2012 to cover up a positive dope test.
"We know that Nadal's famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive [drug test]," Bachelot told French TV show "Le Grand 8" on 8 March 2016, 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 further added.
The victim of the allegation and Bachelot both were supposed to attend a court hearing in Paris on 13 October, Friday. The courtroom drama, however, went missing as Nadal and Bachelot both skipped the hearing.
Patrick Maisonneuve, the prosecutor of Nadal mentioned in the court arena that Bachelot's allegations could have provoked "major consequences" for the player and also could have affected his "existing or future sponsors".
Maisonneuve mentioned about the medical file in the court which had the history of Nadal's knee injury. The lawyer included that the 2017 US Open winner had "asked me to put to bed once and for all what Mrs. Bachelot said by passing on to you his medical file."
On the other hand, the lawyer Olivier Chappuis, from former minister's side, blamed the International Tennis Federation's anti-doping programme. He claimed that the authority has always been "astonishingly lax."
"There is a vast gap between the success he enjoys and the weakness of anti-doping controls," the prosecutor said, as quoted by The Straits Times.
"What sponsor has abandoned Rafael Nadal because of these comments? None," Chappuis said in a strong statement that if his client is found guilty then they are ready to compensate.
Nadal was never accused of failing a drug test; neither did he face a criminal charge for using a banned substance.
"I am tired of these things. I let it go a few times in the past. No more," Nadal said.
He also said that he never expected such a comment from a person who had worked as a minister of a country like France.
"If somebody like her, who should be serious, can say this stupid stuff then now is the moment to say, 'OK, from now everybody who is going to speak of this kind of stuff with no proof then I'm going to do the same and take legal action against that person," he further added.
"I know how much I did to be where I am, and I know 100 percent my values," Nadal concluded.
As expected, the court will give the judgement on 16 November, Monday.