Rafa Nadal is suing a former French Sports Minister who claimed he was doping

Roselyne Bachelot who was Minister for Health and Sport from 2007 until 2010 said his seven-month absence in 2012 was "probably due to a positive doping test"

Rafa Nadal is suing a former French Sports Minister who claimed he was doping

Image: Manu Fernandez / AP/Press Association Images

Rafael Nadal has filed a lawsuit in Paris against a former French minister who claimed the reason he had missed a number of months back in 2012 was due to a positive drugs test.

"Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career,” he said in a statement.

“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 14-time Grand Slam winner had previously said he would take legal action against Ms. Bachelot in response to claims made by the Minister for Health and Sport from 2007 until 2010 that his absence from the sport was "probably due to a positive doping test".

Rafael Nadal poses for a photo with the trophy after winning the Barcelona Open tennis tournament in Barcelona last Sunday (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

"When you see a tennis player stopping for months, it's because there's been a positive control," Ms Bachelot said in the wake of Maria Sharapova's admission that she had used the banned substance meldonium.

Nadal missed the seven months in 2012 which he says was due to a knee injury.

"A minister of France should be serious," he told AFP last month. "This time is the time to go against her. We are going to sue her.

"This is going to be the last one, because I'm going to sue her. I am tired about these things. I let it go a few times in the past. Not any more."

Nadal has never failed a drug test during his time on the ATP Tour and vehemently denies ever using a banned substance.