You have to feel a little sorry for Tennis. Just when the fuss about corruption in the sport dies down, and we all stop wondering which matches are being fixed by which southeast Asian gambling cartel, up pops one of the most famous players in the sport to announce to the press that they’ve failed a drug test raising the possibility of doping in Tennis as well as corruption. Classic.
The International Tennis Federation must have been gnawing at their own feet as Maria Sharapova took to the microphone to announce that she had tested positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open and was facing a life ban for doping in Tennis. This is not what they needed right now. It doesn’t look good, especially not because looks were always one of Sharapova’s best assets. Although her mean serve was not to be sniffed at either.
- Is Maria A Dope?
- Sharapova fails test
- Meldonium banned
- 10 year long use
Asked prior to taking to the stage if she were about to quit Tennis Sharapova was quoted as saying “If I was going to announce my retirement, it wouldn’t be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with a fairly ugly carpet.” Which is no doubt true, however if Maria was gambling news conferences like this were best held in dowdy surroundings, she was wrong, this was a bombshell for the entire sport, and it reacted accordingly.
Apparently prescribed a Mildronate by a family doctor over ten years ago due to her having an irregular heartbeat and her family having a history of diabetes, it was, we are told, a surprise to her that this was the banned substance Meldonium under a different name. Meldonium was banned by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, in new rules that came into effect on January 1st .
Maria Admits Doping In Tennis But Not Guilt
Sharapova, the highest paid female athlete in the world, announced that she had failed the test but claiming that this was due to oversight and error rather than deliberate cheating, is perhaps a vain attempt to stave off accusations of cheating and doping in Tennis, however there is no way this reflects well on a sport still reeling from the gambling scandals in tennis, and whilst they’ve kicked that can down the road, this one won’t be so easily dismissed.
“I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I have been playing sine the age of four, and I love so deeply,” said a solemn faced Maria Sharapova admitting to her having been party to doping in Tennis,“ I know with this [I’ll] face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.” Which depends on just how much credence is given to her for being up front and honest.
“On 1 January the rules had changed and Meldonium became a prohibited substance which I had not known.” She said,“I failed the test and I take full responsibility for it. I made a huge mistake.” Her provisional suspension begins on March 12th which would deny her a place in the Rio Olympics, and the chance for those that like to take advantage of UK gambling laws to bet on her and that leggy frame in one of the few tournaments she hasn’t won.
Are There Any Clean Sports Anymore?
“This matter,” said Steve Simon, Chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association (Yes, even in this day and age there’s a man running Women’s Tennis), “is now in the hands of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and its standard procedures, the WTA will support the decisions reached through this process.” So we await to see if this was a case of doping in Tennis or just someone in Tennis being a bit dopey.
Certainly some have expressed surprise that her management and coaching team didn’t check the medications she was taking against the newly issued list of banned substances (a list available since 2015) and indeed that Sharapova herself wasn’t aware that her medication had another name. Her lawyer, John Haggerty, said she wasn’t taking it at the levels required to be performance enhancing doping in Tennis, however he declined to say at what level she had been taking the banned substance.
With the scandals in Athletics, the corruption in FIFA and the IOC, the doping in cycling, the match fixing in Cricket and the outright cheating in the NFL, you’d be forgiven for thinking that sports were under siege from the media, that there are no honest sports, no fair games. Modern day revelations like Sharapova’s just lend weight to the historical allegations, the allegations that make us doubt all that has gone before, that make us wonder who else is or was doping in Tennis and cheating those that like to bet on sports in the UK at Bet365 etc and expect a fair competition?