Monday, March 07, 2016

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria Doping?

If what Maria is saying -- that she's been using a drug for 10 years that just became banned at the beginnng of this year -- I'd hope they would go easy on her. (So much for performance-enhancing drugs -- she still couldn't get a point off Serena!) It was bad enough we lost Martina Hingis in such a hasty manner, although I think that says more about the Swiss Miss's personality than anything else. However, often when people are caught doing something wrong, they admit a little to try to distract from the full story. I don't think that's the case here, but we shall see. 

Via The Daily News: 
Maria Sharapova announced Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open. 
The five-time Grand Slam winner said she tested positive for Meldonium, which she said was added to the banned list on Jan. 1. Sharapova admitted that she didn't check the list that was sent to her to see what the prohibited items would be for 2016. 
"I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day. I made a huge mistake," Sharapova said. "I let my fans down. I let my sport down." 
The tennis star, who some speculated would be announcing her retirement, doesn't know yet what the consequences of the positive test will be. 
"This is very new to me," Sharapova told reporters. "I just received the letter a few days ago, and I will be working with the ITF." 
Sharapova said she was first given the substance in 2006 for "several health issues," including being low in magnesium, an irregular EKG and a family history of diabetes. She said Meldonium was one of several medications that she received at the time. 
"I know with this that I face consequences," Sharapova said. "I don't want to end my career this way, and I really hope I'm given another chance to play this game."
Shortly after her presser, the International Tennis Federation confirmed she will be provisionally suspended from the sport from March 12. Damian said that perhaps this will put an end to the conspiracy theory that the ITF sweeps offenses by big stars under the rug. Steve Simon, the chairman and chief executive of the WTA, said in a statement that he was “very saddened” by news of Sharapova’s failed test. “Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity,” Simon said. “Nevertheless, as Maria acknowledged, it is every player’s responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible.”

UPDATE: After reading up on the drug in question, I've had a slight change of attitude. I still say Sharapova only broke the rules for a couple months, so doesn't deserve the harshest punishment. But given what doctors say about it -- that there's NO LEGITIMATE REASON a healthy young person should be on it -- Sharapova was clearly gaming the system. That she "got away with it" for 10 years but then was too stupid to stop when it was time to is really shocking. But even more shocking is that this proves that despite living in Florida since age 7, she's still a Russian through and through.


macguffin Fifty four said...

First, if she has been taking this medicine for ten years and it has only been banned since January, I think leniency is called for. Second, if this is a substance that should be banned, what does it say about her that she has been taking it for ten years? I mean, if someone is low in magnesium, you take magnesium, right? If someone's family has a history of diabetes, you monitor your blood sugars and watch what you eat, you don't take a mysterious Eastern European drug. I highly doubt Maria has a serious heart problem; there is no way she could be an athlete of her caliber and intensity for this long without some signs. And I doubt they would give someone of her age any such serious medication unless it was a very serious problem. I'm guessing she took it for the very nefarious "side effects" that caused it to become banned. Which I think is shameful, but who knows how common this practice is to know if she is the exception or the rule? Either way I say we take up a collection and buy her some cheek implants to give her round face some definition and character? Never understood why someone who has the body of a stalk of celery is thought by so many to be so attractive.

BW said...

Seems this is well known as a performance-enhancing drug among Russians, being taken over a long period by someone who's essentially American. Technically legal until recently, but pretty obviously an attempt to cheat.

I've always admired her competitive spirit and I don't think she should get a ban that would be career-ending at her age for this, but it's not a small thing.

Mike in Asheville said...

I call bullshit on WADA. A 9 day advance notice? The WADA advisory was issued on December 22 for an effective date January 1 is ridiculous. For any athlete taking this drug, or any drug for that matter, to be given such notice, there is insufficient time, particularly three days before Christmas and then the weird week through New Years, to get an appointment with their doctor and change therapy.

And so what the whys for Sharapova using the drug. It was not restricted, PERIOD.

The theory of having a WADA, while full of good intentions, the practice has been full of failures. Many of the banned drugs are political choices, not medical -- example: marijuana. Pot reduces performance in the moment and longterm.

Soon WADA will be like FIFA, NCAA, IOC, a bunch of corrupt pseudo officials making millions for themselves and a never ending feeding of their bureaucracy.

And while a fan of her hay day tennis, I've never really clicked with Maria, just some sort of disconnect where I don't get her and her style. But thats just me; she has been and is a great contributor to the sport bringing out the best of her opponents, particularly Serena.

Ray Souza said...

Ekaterina Bobrova, a Russian Ice Dancer, also failed her drug test last week for using the same medication. She's been banned from the World Championships in March as a result. She has also been taking this "heart medication" for a number of years. Sorry to say, but they are cheating and I think we're going to see a number of other Russian athletes with "heart conditions" failing or refusing drug tests in the near future. It's a sad state of affairs.

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