For the sake of us all, Nadal must sue

The recent outburst by Roselyne Bachelot, France's former sports minister, finds us all by now simply sick and tired of being sick and tired. Not least Rafa Nadal, who in Indian Wells on Monday revealed his plans to sue. In the wake of Maria Sharapova's announcement of her failed drugs test, I'm sure you're aware, Bachelot declared that Nadal had spent seven months out in 2012 due to a concealed case of doping. An accusation which, by extension, includes all the relevant authorities: if it's true, after all, they'll have been necessary accomplices to the cover-up. Following the uproar her remarks caused, she then stood by them on less than firm foundations: that's what they say, it's what I've heard...

In Spain, we have a bad reputation when it comes to doping; and if we're being honest, it's not totally groundless. There have been some utterly disastrous episodes. 'Juanito' Muehlegg, for example. Or the years in which the cycling peloton was pursued in France (by Bachelot) or Italy (remember the Pantani affair?) while round this way it wheeled along in peace. We've had the catastrophic 'Operation Puerto' scandal, leaving a cloud of suspicion hanging over Spanish sport. We made Marta Domínguez a senator. Spanish PMs José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy didn't cover themselves in glory over Alberto Contador. And now institutional carelessness is set to bring a rap from WADA.

Such things explain certain glances cast in our direction, but they don't justify them. And less so when they come from well-informed circles; circles that ought to be, at least. If we have to grin and bear quips on France's version of 'Spitting Image', then so be it. But the objectionable illustration on the front page of Le Monde, and the accusations it levelled against Real and Barça, couldn't be left to slide. Both clubs sued, and the paper was forced to pay damages. Now, for the sake of everyone's peace of mind, Nadal would do well to fight this all the way too. If Bachelot knows something the rest of us don't, then out with it. But we've all grown sick and tired of hearing: that's what they say, it's what I've heard...