Eurosport - Sun, 28 Mar 08:33:00 2010
Joe Calzaghe has admitted to using cocaine since retirement after a sting by the News of the World's notorious 'Fake Sheikh'.
The 38-year-old, who retired as undefeated light-heavyweight champion of the world following his November 2008 win over Roy Jones Jr in New York, made the confession to the tabloid paper, with an additional statement on his personal website which heavily criticised the manner in which the information was obtained.
"I very much regret my occasional use of cocaine in what have sometimes been the long days since my retirement from the ring," read the statement to the News of the World. "I am fully aware of the bad example it sets to other people and particularly to youngsters and I apologise to my family, friends and fans.
"It is not a major problem in my life but it is something which I am actively addressing. Many of the other conversations reported to have taken place simply involve men joshing or shooting the breeze over a drink.
"While some statements are either untrue or exaggerations I am, naturally, sorry for any embarrassment their publication may cause to entirely blameless third parties."
Welshman Calzaghe, who had a 46-0 professional record including 10 years as super-middleweight champion before moving up to light heavyweight, made an additional statement on his own site, which implied that he was coerced into referring to the drug.
Since retiring he has received a CBE, performed on TV show 'Strictly Come Dancing' and worked for veteran soldiers' charity 'Help for Heroes'.
Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was also once entrapped by reporter Mazer Mahmood, who disguises himself as a foreign businessman to coerce celebrities to admit to illegal activities or agree to controversial business deals.
Calzaghe’s statement in full:
“I'm not proud to say that I have joined a list of royals, sports and showbiz stars who have been scammed by the News of the World's notorious Fake Sheikh.
The reporter, Mazer Mahmood, who spends his life disguising himself and his team members to entrap celebrities came into my life with an accomplice. They were posing as the London representatives of a Russian investment bank.
I met them a few times because they were plausible and seemed to be offering a good business proposition.
Unbeknown to me, every word spoken was filmed and tape recorded using sophisticated and secret surveillance equipment as part of a News of the World sting operation.
Much of the discussion took place in a relaxed environment with drink flowing freely. Like most such conversations therefore, there was a lot of joshing and not everything said was meant seriously.
However, during several hours of conversations, I made passing references to cocaine - again something I am definitely NOT proud of.
After spending weeks on my case, the News of the World approached my PR and management team with the tapes and films of their 'investigation'.
After some soul-searching, I made the following statement further below to the newspaper which they have published in full in today's newspaper and online.
In talking directly to my fans, I would only add that I am deeply sorry if anyone feels let down and I will make sure that nothing like it happens again.
Secondly I just wonder if it really is a proper function of a free press to have journalists using this sort of underhand deception to get a story which they hope will sell newspapers by knocking someone down.
Over the course of the last 24 hours I have been in discussions with my family, friends, my management team, my sponsors and charitable partners, in particular the team at Help for Heroes, who have given me their full support and continued backing on the fundraising initiatives I have recently commenced.
Others I have also spoken to today have given me their full support to get over this and help me deal with some of the issues that have been raised.
Below is the statement that I have made to the News of the World and, again, it comes with my heartfelt apologies to any fans who feel let down by what has been published.