Sharing is caring!Facebook0Twitter0Google+0Pinterest0Maria Sharapova stunned the sporting world on Monday when she called a press conference at which ...
Maria Sharapova stunned the sporting world on Monday when she called a press conference at which she announced that she had failed a drugs test.
Many assumed the 28-year-old had called the media gathering to announce her retirement after battling a debilitating series of injuries.
Ironically, news that she has tested positive for the recently banned substance meldonium could hasten the end of her career, with a ban almost certain to follow.
Here we answer some of the key questions raised by Sharapova’s admission.
What is meldonium?
Meldonium is commonly used to treat heart issues and diabetes. It is manufactured in Latvia and widely used in eastern Europe, but it not approved for use in the United States. Sharapova – who is based in Florida – claims to have been taking the drug since 2006 on the advice of her doctor due to a number of health concerns. After a period of consulation, meldonium it was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list in January this year. In a statement, WADA said: ‘Meldonium was added [to the Prohibited List] because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.’
Sharapova tested positive for meldonium which is commonly used to treat diabetes and heart issues
When was it found?
Sharapova tested positive at this year’s Australian Open, shortly after her quarter-final defeat to Serena Williams. She was notified of her failed test by the International Tennis Federation. Sharapova has not played since: she was a non-playing member of the Russian Fed Cup team (which was enough to qualify her a place this summer’s Rio Olympics), and withdrew from both the Qatar Open and the BNP Paris Open citing a forearm injury.
What’s her excuse?
Sharapova insists she has been legally taking the drug for almost 10 years and simply failed to click the link to an email sent by WADA shortly before Christmas, in which the anti-doping agency announced meldonium had been added to the list of banned substances. Her lawyer John Haggerty says there is a ‘laundry list of extremely mitigating circumstances’.
Will she be banned?
WADA guidelines state the recommended ban for this type of doping offence could be up to four years, athough a two-year ban is more common, and Sharapova’s team will hope those ‘mitigating circumstances’ will reduce it further. Sharapova could also apply retrospectively for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), which allows athletes to take certain otherwise prohibited substances if it can be proven necessary on purely medical grounds.
How has the world reacted?
Sympathy is in short supply for Sharapova – although Martina Navratilova tweeted that she felt the player had made an ‘honest mistake’. Fellow former grand slam winner Jennifer Capriati was less forgiving, stating that ‘In my opinion, if it’s all true every title should be stripped.’ The WTA said it was ‘very saddened’ by the news, while two of Sharapova’s key sponsors – Nike and TAG Heuer – immediately announced they were suspending their relationships with the athlete.