October 27, 2009
Note: Post updated with book excerpts at the bottom.
Tennis legend Andre Agassi reveals in his forthcoming autobiography "Open" that he used crystal meth during his playing career, Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for the book's publisher, confirmed to the New York Daily News on Tuesday.
According to the Daily News, the eight-time Grand Slam champion admits using the illicit drug in 1997, the year he married Brooke Shields and went into a career slump that didn't end until 1999.
After pulling out of that slump, Agassi went on to win five Grand Slams and became only the fifth player to complete the career Slam. He has been heavily involved in charity work since retirement, opening his own charter school and championing educational reform throughout the country.
The information was first released this morning on the Twitter account of SI.com media analyst Richard Deitsch, but was subsequently removed:
"FYI: There's an off-the-charts book excerpt from Andre Agassi in the forthcoming SI: He admits to taking crystal meth during his career."
Both Sports Illustrated and People will run excerpts from the book, which will be released on Nov. 9.
Releasing this admission a week ahead of the book's release is an obvious ploy to generate interest and sell copies, and it's working. Almost all autobiographies are self-serving odes to one's own pursuit of greatness. They're rarely interesting. Agassi's could be different.
He's always been forthcoming with the press about his issues, whether it be his overbearing father, the therapy he underwent while his career was in shambles (the first time) or the true reason he cut his hair. The vulnerable, intense picture on the cover suggests more of the same is inside. (Compare it to the covers of other recent tennis autobiographies that look straight out of a Sears catalog.)
Update: (11:47 p.m. ET) The first excerpts have been released and, wow, are they explosive. Not only does Agassi admit to using crystal meth, but he describes how he evaded drug testers by lying about his useage.
In the first excerpt Agassi writes about taking the drug at home with an assistant known only as Slim:
"Slim is stressed too ... He says, You want to get high with me? On what? Gack. What the hell's gack? Crystal meth. Why do they call it gack? Because that's the sound you make when you're high ... Make you feel like Superman, dude.
"As if they're coming out of someone else's mouth, I hear these words: You know what? F*** it. Yeah. Let's get high.
"Slim dumps a small pile of powder on the coffee table. He cuts it, snorts it. He cuts it again. I snort some. I ease back on the couch and consider the Rubicon I've just crossed.
"There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I've never felt so alive, so hopeful - and I've never felt such energy.
"I'm seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds."
Later on, Agassi writes, he received a call from ATP doctors telling him he'd tested positive for meth.
"My name, my career, everything is now on the line. Whatever I've achieved, whatever I've worked for, might soon mean nothing. Days later I sit in a hard-backed chair, a legal pad in my lap, and write a letter to the ATP. It's filled with lies interwoven with bits of truth.
"I say Slim, whom I've since fired, is a known drug user, and that he often spikes his sodas with meth - which is true. Then I come to the central lie of the letter. I say that recently I drank accidentally from one of Slim's spiked sodas, unwittingly ingesting his drugs. I ask for understanding and leniency and hastily sign it: sincerely.
"I feel ashamed, of course. I promise myself that this lie is the end of it."
The ATP accepted Agassi's version of events and he received no drug suspension.
Check back to Busted Racquet later today for more insight into how this could change Agassi's legacy.
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