The image of Hingis blowing lines is certainly one I'd never contemplated, but something else that struck me as odd was that cocaine is considered a violation of doping regulations. We've all become familiar with the phrase from the Olympics and Tour de France and associate it with steroids, human growth hormone and other chemicals taken to gain a competitive advantage on the field of play. Cocaine has been around sports for a long time, but it brings to mind Michael Irvin and a house full of strippers or Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry on an '86 Mets road trip.
In other words, its something you use to get a competitive advantage off the field of play.
Could it work the other way, though? It's not exactly a secret that doing too much blow isn't going to leave you in any condition to play sports, but Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency says that not all of its effects would be negative.
"The acute effects of cocaine probably, overall, would impair and not enhance performance. But within a two-hour window, you may actually have some enhancement - overcoming fatigue, reaction time, and so on."
If Hingis did use coke for athletic enhancement reasons she certainly wouldn't be the first athlete to do so. In the late 1970's, Hollywood Henderson, a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, carried a nasal inhaler filled with a mixture of cocaine and water in his uniform during games. Lawrence Taylor has also admitted to being high during games, and its not a stretch to say that both linebackers used the drug to help foster the self-confidence and euphoria that scientists believe cocaine provides its users. They probably aren't the only NFL (or other sports) players who felt, rightly or wrongly, that those "benefits" would help them succeed on the playing field.
It bears mentioning that Henderson said he felt "out of control" when he snorted during games and -- as anyone who's seen the last 20 minutes of "Goodfellas" could testify -- there's a very fine line where cocaine stops doing anything good and creates a frenzied state of paranoia. There are plenty of legal, non-hurtful ways to overcome fatigue and help reaction time on the market that any responsible person or athlete would and should use instead of cocaine.
That doesn't mean Hingis didn't use the drug to help her on the court, though. Doesn't mean she did, either, or even that she used it at all. It just means that if she did, the International Tennis Federation would be within its rights to ban her for using performance-enhancing drugs.