French cyclists question ethics of Rafael Nadal’s Roland Garros injection use

After claiming his 14th French Open title, Rafael Nadal revealed he used injections in order to deal with his long-standing foot injury. Two leading cyclists have since hit back at the Spaniard.

Nadal cruised to the Roland Garros crown as he thrashed Norway's Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0 to win a historic 22nd grand slam title. 

In the aftermath, the Spaniard revealed he was able to get through the tournament by treating his injured foot with injections which shut down certain nerves and, in his words, put the foot "to sleep".

Nadal has endured issues with his foot injury since 2005 when he was first diagnosed with a rare hereditary problem which affected his tarsal scaphoid bone. An insole in his trainer eradicated the issue as the player reached the pinnacle of the sport.

Last year, however, the injury flared up once more as Nadal was forced to miss Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open.

The 36-year-old returned to action after injecting his foot with painkilling drugs - something which helped him win this year's Australian Open.

During the French Open though, Nadal changed his injection strategy, saying: "I still had not injected my nerve. After the Moutet match, we concluded that I could not keep injecting myself where I had been because it continued to worsen. We chose to inject the nerve at a distance, which was good. We would never have gotten to this point if we had not done that."

Since then, French cyclist Thibaut Pinot took to social media and appeared to offer a satirical view on the matter.

Quoting a tweet in which Nadal failed to disclose how many injections he received, the rider wrote: "The heroes of today…".

On Tuesday, another French cyclists, Guillaume Martin, added to the debate in an exclusive interview with L'Equipe.

As quoted by Cycling News, he said: "What Nadal did would have been impossible in cycling, and I find that normal.

"If you're ill or injured, you don't race, you don't compete, that makes sense to me, for several reasons. Firstly, for the health of athletes. In the long-term I'm not sure that will do any good to Nadal's ankle.

"Moreover, medication - and especially injections - don't just have a healing effect; they can certainly have effects on performance or be twisted to improve performance, so it seems to me to be very much on the limit."

Guillaume Martin of France

He later added: "If a cyclist does the same thing, it's already banned, but even if that wasn't the case, everyone would pile on, branding them as doped because there's such a cultural background, such clichés attached to cycling.

"Meanwhile people laud Nadal for being capable of going deep into pain. I believe [footballer] Zlatan Ibrahimovic also spoke about injections in his knee.

"They pass as heroes because they go deep into pain, but in fact, they avail of substances in order to go deep into pain and, once again, it's very much on the limit.

"The winner in cycling, in particular the Tour, even if there's nothing to it, is systematically accused of doping."

Nadal admitted he won't play at Wimbledon with anaesthetic injections, meaning his appearance at SW19 is far from certain.

READ MORE: 'Novak Djokovic will win Wimbledon,' predicts coach despite French Open disappointment

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