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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 15:56 GMT
Rusedski finds reason to smile
By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Queen's Club

Greg Rusedski
The trademark grin was firmly planted back on Greg Rusedski's face on Tuesday, as he faced the media for the first time since being cleared of a doping offence.

Rusedski chose to share his feelings at being exonerated in the austere surroundings of the President's Room at London's Queen's Club.

The club, which is used to hosting more genteel Lawn Tennis Association events, has probably never seen such scenes, with over 50 journalists jostling for space with a large group of frantic photographers and cameramen.

It was a stark contrast to three months ago, when Rusedski, alone and looking pale and drawn, released a video statement from his hotel room in Australia.

In it, he revealed he had tested positive for nandrolone.

In the immediate aftermath of that initial admission, many were quick to condemn Rusedski as a drugs cheat.

On Tuesday, flanked by his wife Lucy and lawyer Mark Gay, he revealed just how devastated he had been by the reaction.

This matter is not about doping, it is about contamination
Greg Rusedski
"It was very hurtful to be called a cheat and all sorts of things on the front pages of the newspapers when you know you've done nothing wrong," he said.

"I believe the public knew the truth, and that got me through, along with the support of Lucy, my family and my friends."

Lucy, before now known principally for her cheerleading role in the players' box at Wimbledon, found herself with a rare speaking role on Tuesday.

It was Mrs Rusedski who revealed that "there are some scared tennis players out there" in light of the doubt over the common source of so many positive nandrolone tests in men's tennis.

No one has yet been able to prove that supplements handed out by ATP trainers are to blame.

And while he dutifully answered a barrage of questions about the drugs controversy engulfing men's tennis, Rusedski, like the ATP, will not be able to put the matter to rest entirely until the source of the nandrolone is revealed.

But he repeatedly insisted: "This matter is not about doping, it is about contamination."

Rusedski vowed to help the ATP get to the bottom of the mystery, but at the same time he would not rule out the possibility of claiming damages from the self-same organisation.

The two parties are in discussion over a settlement, he said.

As well as a substantial sum of money, that settlement is likely to involve an extension of his injury-protected ranking which lapsed in February while he was embroiled in the fight to clear his name.

Greg and Lucy Rusedski
Lucy Rusedski spoke of the fear in men's tennis
That would allow him to enter tour events for which, with his ranking at 100, he would currently have to qualify.

On the subject of his playing return, Rusedski was on much happier ground.

At the age of 30 and with a possible two-year ban hanging over him, Rusedski had been facing the end of his career and, quite probably, an end to any future media opportunities.

British Davis Cup captain Jeremy Bates believes it is "very likely" that the Briton will now come back better than ever after the emotions of the last six months.

Rusedski said he wants to play at Wimbledon at least twice more before he retires.

And though he refused to say it outright, the more candid Lucy added: "He'd love to win it."

Given the high drama of the last six months of Rusedski's life, it would make an appropriate fairytale ending.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Greg Rusedski
"No player ought to be put in this situation"




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