PARIS -- The French Tennis Federation has distanced itself from former star Yannick Noah, calling his accusations of widespread doping in Spanish sport "inappropriate" and counterproductive in the battle against drug cheats in sport.
In a newspaper column for Le Monde last weekend, the 1983 French Open champion accused Spanish athletes of widespread doping. He said the only way to level the playing field would be to allow everyone to use banned drugs.
"The French Tennis Federation wishes to express its disagreement with regards to the comments made by Yannick Noah," the FFT said in a statement Tuesday. "Faced with the scourge of doping, accusations without proof and provocative comments are inappropriate."
Noah proposed the idea that the French authorities should relax their rules on doping to make French athletes more competitive. He said the French "don't have the magic potion" that he claimed Spanish athletes possessed.
"How can a country (Spain) dominate sport from one day to the next?" Noah wrote in his column Saturday. "Had they discovered avant-garde training techniques and methods that no one else imagined?"
The FFT responded angrily by saying "the fight against doping is and will always remain" a priority because "the worst attitude would be to give up."
Second-ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain and Barcelona soccer coach Pep Guardiola reacted angrily to Noah's accusation.
Speaking at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, Nadal said Noah should be banned from commenting in the media.
"This guy deserve not (to) write anymore in the newspaper," Nadal said. "What he said is completely stupid."
Former Grand Slam doubles winner Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who is president of the Athletes' Association of Spain, also criticized Noah in his blog Tuesday.
"You have hurt Spaniards, athletes and me. I think it is not fair to discredit the triumphs of Spanish athletes by treating them all as cheaters," Sanchez Vicario wrote. "The truth is that I am still stunned."