“If tennis was trying to get back into the news,” scoffs the LA Times’ Lisa Dillman, ” this was hardly the ideal way to grab headlines with the latest stunner coming straight out of a Russian spy novel.” Hey, it’s no Martina Hingis-on-coke scandal, but it’ll do for a Thursday morning.
Tommy Haas’ apparent garden-variety stomach virus that sidelined him on the decisive day of the Davis Cup semifinal in Moscow in September against Russia took on sinister implications when allegations surfaced Wednesday that he was poisoned.
International Tennis Federation official Bill Babcock said in a telephone interview from Madrid that the organization will launch an investigation and plans to interview Haas’ German Davis Cup teammate, Alexander Waske, among others. It was Waske who first revealed that Haas may have been poisoned.
Russia went on to win that day and will play the U.S. in the Davis Cup final in Portland, Ore., starting Nov. 30.
“We’ll move as fast as we can before people forget what was said,” said Babcock, the ITF’s Grand Slam coordinator and Davis Cup executive director.
Haas, who still feels unwell six weeks after the incident, is scheduled to travel to New York today for additional rounds of medical testing, according to his representatives. He has been in Rio de Janeiro for commercial commitments.
Waske detailed to German media outlets a recent conversation he had with a Russian player manager.
“Someone came to me and said, ‘It was a tight match, it’s a shame Tommy was poisoned,’ ” Waske told the German news agency SID.
Waske said he told the manager, who was not named, that Haas, 29, merely had a virus. The manager replied: ” ‘Believe me, Alex, I know Moscow. There are people who can make these kinds of things happen.’ ”
Haas told SID of that night in Moscow: “I tried everything from swallowing tablets to syringes, nothing worked. It just made me feel worse. I really thought I would end up in the hospital.”
I’m no Dr. Kildare, but if Haas was swallowing syringes, I think we’ve successfully identified the source of his pain.