At time, drug use wasn’t suspected

Andre Agassi‘s hard fall from No. 1 world ranking in 1995 to 144th in 1997 fueled considerable speculative fodder at the time, but illicit drug use wasn’t mentioned.

A Yahoo.com sports blog titled "Busted Racquet" has amassed a collection of excerpts from media reports from 1997 and 1998, the period that Agassi says he was on crystal meth, according to his soon-to-be-released autobiography, "Open."

Chris Chase, who compiled the reports, noted that there were several rumors circulating about the root of his problems, but no one was hinting about a drug problem.

Among the reports was one by Tony Kornheiser of The Washington Post, who wrote in July 1997, three months after Agassi married Brooke Shields:

"Hey, tennis fans, if you can get through this afternoon without passing out from the heat, there’s a treat for you tonight: Sadly, it’s not rehydration. You get to see Andre "What’s My Line?" Agassi.

"You remember Andre, don’t you?

"Just two years ago today he was the No. 1 player in the world. He held that ranking for 30 straight weeks in 1995. Everybody thought his rivalry with Pete Sampras was going to be the heir to Borg-McEnroe.

"Now Agassi is a part-time player. He dabbles in tennis the way rich, bored women dabble in pottery, building a studio on the back of the house.

"Here’s Agassi’s complete record this year: 6-6.

"We’re in July now. Hell-o. Twelve tennis matches in seven months is ludicrous. Greta Van Susteren has played more tennis than Agassi this year. He skipped the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. What happened, did he forget to renew his passport? The official word is that a bad wrist has sidelined him since April. But he lost his first match in four straight tournaments in February and March.

"Not to put too fine a point on it, but what the heck is the deal with this guy?"

Others blamed Shields for being a distraction.

The closest anyone came to raising a drug connection came in May 1998, when Peter Shard of The Sydney Telegraph wrote:

"Brooke Shields strode through Nice Airport she looked every inch the Hollywood star.

"Dressed in a figure-hugging black outfit and wearing dark glasses, she flashed smiles at photographers and fans.

"But the confidence and star quality oozed away as Customs and police officers swooped and searched her luggage and sent shock waves through Hollywood where she is known as a fervent antidrugs campaigner.

"The clean-cut 33-year-old, a fitness fanatic and champion of the crusade against narcotics, was stopped as she boarded a Paris-bound plane after spending several days at the Cannes Film Festival. Police have refused to give exact details of what they found.

"She was on her way to support former Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi, whom she married in April last year, at the French Open.

"All Agassi would say last night was: ‘I am on my way out to dinner. Goodbye.’"

In another disclosure, which surfaced Sunday, Agassi mentions in the book that he believes a pill given to him by his father might have been the illegal drug speed.

According to the German newspaper Bild, Agassi was quoted as saying, "I swallow it and I feel good. Not much different. A bit more alert." Later brother Phillip warned him against taking anything from their father because it was the amphetamine speed.

What tournament Agassi was referring to was unclear in the story.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Correction: The Strip-based, mob-themed exhibition mentioned here Sunday will not be inside a Capo’s restaurant. It will be housed in a Strip property, with Capo’s owner Nico Santucci providing a restaurant component.

DEAL OF THE DAY

Jeanne Brei & The Speakeasy Swingers celebrate the 88th birthday of legendary saxophonist Don Hill at the Rhythm Kitchen, 6435 S. Decatur Blvd., on Tuesday from 7-10 p.m. Information: www.thespeakeasy swingers.com and www.rhythmkitchenlv.com.

SIGHTINGS

"Peepshow" star Holly Madison, introducing contestants at Studio 54’s Hollyween on Saturday at MGM Grand. One partygoer portrayed Madison’s "Girls Next Door" sidekick Kendra Wilkinson and wore a T-shirt that read "Sorry, Hank, it’s Hef‘s …" over a fake baby bump.

THE PUNCH LINE

"I don’t like their costume. You can’t make fun of Jon and Kate if you’re more despicable than they are. It’s like if Hitler dressed up as bin Laden." — Jimmy Kimmel on Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt dressing up as Jon and Kate Gosselin for Halloween.

Norm Clarke can be reached at 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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