BY ALISON MUTLER
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Former tennis player Ilie Nastase was arrested twice in the space of six hours in his native Romania on Friday, first on suspicion of driving a car while drunk and refusing to take a breathalyzer test, and then for going through a red light on a scooter.
Nastase had a level of 0.55 mg of alcohol per liter, Bucharest chief police traffic officer Victor Gilceava said, an offense that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
Police initially stopped the 71-year-old Nastase around 4.45 a.m. while he was driving. They said he was visibly drunk. Gilceava said officers had to block Nastase’s vehicle as he failed to stop.
The former U.S. and French Open champion refused to take a breathalyzer and officers removed him from the vehicle and handcuffed him.
He was later released as police opened a criminal investigation against him for drunken driving and failing to take a breathalyzer test.
Police stopped him again about six hours later after he allegedly went through a red light on a scooter. His driving license had been suspended after the first incident.
Nastase admitted that he had drunk beer but claimed police had manhandled him and thrown him to the ground during his first arrest.
The second time he was apprehended, he was filmed mocking police officers and accusing them of acting like the communist-era militia. Nastase got in a police car and placed a police helmet on his head during that second arrest.
He was questioned for an hour and, when he left the police station, acknowledged that he probably made a mistake by refusing to take the breathalyzer test.
He was fined 1,000 lei ($253) for being obstructive with police and his license was suspended for three months, but still faces charges of drunken driving and refusing a breathalyzer.
Once the top-ranked player in the world, Nastase was renowned for his unpredictable and temperamental behavior on the tennis court, with his outbursts earning him the nickname “Nasty.”
He retained those characteristics after retiring.
Last year, Nastase was fined and banned for foul-mouthed comments and misconduct as Romania’s Fed Cup captain.
He had hurled abuse at British player Johanna Konta and the umpire during a Fed Cup match and made advances of a sexual nature toward Britain captain Anne Keothavong.
In a separate incident, he was also found guilty by the International Tennis Federation of making “racially insensitive” remarks about the possible skin color of the then-unborn child of Serena Williams, who is married to internet entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian.
Copyright 2018. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.