Fellow tennis legend Martina Navratilova compared Agassi to Roger Clemens, the former major league pitching great widely believed to have used steroids who vehemently denies it.
On the CBS News broadcast "60 Minutes" Sunday night, a visibly shaken Agassi, telling "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, "It's what you don't wanna hear. But when somebody takes a performance inhibitor, a recreational drug…"
"Not at first as a performance enhancing drug?" Couric asked.
"The one thing that I would hope is not that there aren't rules that need to be followed, but along with that would come some compassion, that maybe this person doesn't need condemnation. Maybe this person could stand a little help. And I had a problem. And there might be many other athletes out there that test positive for recreational drugs that have a problem. So I would -- I would ask for some compassion."
On "The Early Show" Monday, Navratilova said her beef with Agassi's crystal meth use was that he'd lied about it and covered it up, until word of the content of "Open: An Autobiography" (which officially hits bookshelves Monday) came out.
"I am a compassionate person," she told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, "as I proved this morning when I rescued a tree-frog from my sink and released it into the wild.
" ... I was comparing Andre to Roger Clemens only because they both lied about having taken the drugs. I was never suggesting that Andre was taking performance-enhancing drugs, and that he was trying to cheat the game that way. I was upset that he lied about the fact that he took the drugs.
"Whether he takes crystal meth or not, could I care less about that.
"And, again, I don't think it should be against the rules. But it is. And when he got caught, I thought he should have owned up to it, just done his three months (suspension) and be done with it, and we would not be talking about it anymore.
"So, I was not comparing Andre to Roger in that way at all, only that they both lied about it. And that was a misunderstanding because, to me, cheaters should be banned from the game, and should never be allowed to play again and that's why, I think, we were all so disappointed with Roger Clemens.
"With Andre, what he had done, I did not know that he was taking it for depression, that was not part of the information at the time. And I would never condemn him for doing that. It was the fact that he lied about it. He didn't own up to it and to me, he cheated the game in that respect."
Rodriguez also asked Navratilova about Agassi's revelation that he once purposely lost a match against Michael Chang.
"I never did (that -- threw a match). I could never do that. There have been other greats in the game that have tanked matches. I'm not gonna name anybody, but it has happened.
"Obviously, he was really down, you know. And, you're very exposed out there when you're on the court, and when you're going through stuff some your personal life, some shall people reacted better on the court and they sort of get away from it, and for some people, it's even worse.
"So, he tanked a match. Who lost in that? It's the fans who watched the match and of course, Andre Agassi. And Michael Chang probably said, 'Hey, you know, I want your best effort out there.' But sometimes, you just can't help it, and you self-destruct, one way or the other. Tanking is not something new, and Andre is a great champion, and I wish him all the best, absolutely."
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