Tennis: Nastase, living up to former nickname, arrested twice in one day for driving offences

Former tennis world No. 1 Ilie Nastase attempted to drive away when flagged down by police at 4.45am local time.
Former tennis world No. 1 Ilie Nastase attempted to drive away when flagged down by police at 4.45am local time.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUCHAREST (AFP) - Flamboyant former tennis world No. 1 Ilie Nastase was pulled over by Bucharest traffic police twice on Friday (May 25) on suspicion of drink driving and a few hours later for driving without a licence, the Romanian authorities said.

The 71-year-old attempted to drive away when flagged down by police at 4.45am local time. Police gave chase and blocked his car after 200 yards, the head of the Bucharest traffic police Victor Gilceava told a press conference.

"As he was visibly the worse for drink he was called on to take a breathalyser test and became aggressive, insulting the police officers," said an earlier statement.

He was handcuffed, hauled off and asked to provide a sample, which he refused to do, the police added.

In the end, a breath test proved positive, said Gilceava.

Nastase was allowed to leave police custody after being fined 1,000 lei (S$338) and his licence was suspended for three months. The police also opened a criminal investigation.

He then went to the hospital on a scooter to obtain a certificate to back up his assertion that the police had used force to handcuff him.

On leaving the hospital, Nastase was arrested for a second time by the traffic police and taken to their headquarters. Police also opened a second investigation for "driving without a valid licence", said Gilceava.

Last year, Nastase, a volatile showman who used to be nicknamed Nasty, got in trouble when captaining Romania in a Fed Cup tie against Britain.

He hurled abuse at a British player, an umpire and journalists, made "unwelcome advances of a sexual nature" toward the female British captain, and also made a "racially insensitive comment" about the child that American star Serena Williams was expecting.

The International Tennis Federation initially fined Nastase US$10,000 (S$13,416) but when he appealed to an independent tribunal, it decided in February to double the amount to US$20,000.

Nastase apologised but insisted the media had "exaggerated" the scale of the rumpus.