April 14, 2024

Open Court


Nadal wins French defamation case

The decision in Rafael Nadal’s defamation lawsuit against French television personality Roselyne Bachelot was handed down Thursday.

And the 31-year-old tennis star came away with a victory, if more a moral one than a financial one.

Bachelot insinuated during a French television show in the aftermath of the Maria Sharapova doping suspension in March, 2016 that Nadal himself was a doper.

Specifically, she stated Nadal’s long-term absence because of a knee issue back in 2012 was  “probably because of a positive doping test.”

“When you see a tennis player stopping for months, it’s because he has tested positive. Not every time, but very often,” Bachelot added.

Nadal, incensed, filed the suit in April, 2016.

Moral victory, not financial gain

The Tribunal heard the case Oct. 13. Its decision declared Bachelot guilty of defamation. She must pay a fine of 500 euros and damages and interest to Nadal in the amount of 10,000 euro. Bachelot also is liable for 2,000 euros in court costs.

Nadal had been seeking 100,000 euros. But whatever the amount, he intended to donate it to a charity in France. 

Le Figaro reports Bachelot won’t appeal the decision.  

“I would like to reiterate my respect to the legal procedure and tribunals of France,” Nadal said in a statement via his PR team. “When I filed the law suit against Mrs. Bachelot, I intended not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career.

“I also wish to prevent any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation, and to go unpunished.

“The motivation, as I have always maintained, was not financial. As the tribunal found, there has been wrongdoing and the sentence recognizes the right to damages. The award will be paid back in full to an NGO or foundation in France,” Nadal added. /blockquote>

Defamation, but no permanent damage

According to Le Figaro, the damages are for “obvious moral prejudice, such an allegation being one of the most serious that can be levied upon a professional sportsman.”

The tribunal reduced the amount of damages asked for by Nadal to “more fair proportions”. It contended that Nadal “failed to demonstrate any sort of prejudice in terms of his activities as a player,or his relationships with his sponsors,” Le Figaro reported.

Bachelot’s lawyer, Olivier Chappuis, said the former health and sports minister absolutely didn’t regret her statements. He added that his client was satisfied that the judges determined Nadal’s damage request disproportionate.

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