“If I neglect it, my life is in peril,” the German proclaimed to the media earlier this week, conjuring a transformation in the tournament’s stance regarding his on-court insulin injections.
Alexander Zverev has gained the freedom to administer insulin for managing his type 1 diabetes during matches at Roland Garros, following a successful campaign to alter the tournament’s stance on on-court injections.
The German player, who has grappled with this chronic condition since the age of three, has candidly shared the challenges he faced while progressing to the semifinals in Paris. Zverev disclosed that he had previously been instructed to administer insulin off the court, utilizing valuable bathroom breaks for this purpose, and received inconsistent directives from officials, which appeared to vary from day to day.
“In my recent match, they informed me that this would be considered a restroom break,” he explained to Eurosport Germany after his fourth-round victory.
“I responded: ‘Folks, please! I only have two restroom breaks in a match, but in a best-of-five match, sometimes I need to inject four or even five times…”
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“They said it looks strange when I administer insulin on the court. But this isn’t a smart perspective because if I skip it, my life is at risk. Yet, they mentioned it looks odd,” he elaborated.
“I asked, ‘What does it appear like? That I’m using performance-enhancing substances?’ This argument doesn’t hold up.”
When Alexander Zverev disclosed his type 1 diabetes diagnosis in 2022, it had already sparked discussions among fans and the media for similar reasons. Back in 2019, Zverev faced scrutiny for seemingly checking a device inside his gear bag during matches, which could have violated the rules prohibiting players from using phones. However, the device turned out to be a glucose monitor.
Insulin is classified as a banned substance by WADA, but Zverev has obtained a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) from the International Tennis Integrity Agency, allowing him to use it for managing his blood sugar levels.
In ATP matches, Zverev has sometimes administered his medication on the court during changeovers. Now, he has also received approval to do the same at Roland Garros.
Q: There has been a lot of discussion about your injections. Can you clarify the current situation? Are you clear on what’s allowed both on and off the court?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: At the moment, I have the freedom to do as I need, both on and off the court.
Q: Is this permission valid for Wimbledon as well?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Yes, that’s the ruling for this week, and they will reassess the situation for Wimbledon.
The 22nd seed, Zverev, secured a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Tomas Martin Etcheverry, securing his spot in the Roland Garros semifinals for the third consecutive year. He is set to face last year’s finalist, Casper Ruud, on Friday, vying for a place in his second Grand Slam final.