By Niall Clarke
- Maria Sharapova has failed a drug test at the Australian Open
- The Russian took a medicine for 10 years which was added to the banned substance list at the start of the year
- No news yet on any punishment for the former world number one.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- Maria Sharapova has revealed in a press conference that she failed a drug test at this year’s Australian Open.
Source: BBC Sport.
The former world number one called a press conference in Los Angeles today, sparkling rumours of the 28 year old possibly retiring from the sport.
But in a sensational twist, Sharapova revealed that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open for taking a medicine that had only been placed on the ban on January 1st. The drug in question is called Meldoniun which helps with blood flow and was added to World anti-doping list at the start of this year.
“I received a letter on 22 December from Wada for the changes next year and where the tests will be with a link to the changes for 2016 and I did not look at that list.” Sharapova said.
There is no news about any punishment as of yet, but the Russian says she will ‘work’ with the ITF to come to a conclusion.
“This is very new to me. I only received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF.” Sharapova added.
“I was first given the substance back in 2006. I had several health issues at the time, I was getting sick a lot of the time, I had deficiency in my magnesium, I had irregularities in my scans and I had signs of diabetes.”
The former world number one has not played since her quarter finals defeat to Serena Williams at the Australian Open and has recently pulled out of the upcoming Indian Wells Premier tournament.
“I made a huge mistake,” she said.
“I have let my fans down, and let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply.
“I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope to be given another chance to play this game.”
The Tennis Anti-Doping programme have released the following statement via ITF Tennis.
Following the statement made by Maria Sharapova in a press conference today, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) can confirm the following:
– On 26 January 2016, Ms Sharapova provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with her participation in the 2016 Australian Open.
– That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Code and, therefore also the TADP.
– In accordance with Article 8.1.1 of the TADP, Ms Sharapova was charged on 2 March with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
– Ms Sharapova has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January.
– As meldonium is a non-specified substance under the WADA (and, therefore, TADP) list of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods, Ms Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case.
It is not yet known what the future holds for Sharapova, but it has to be admired how she came forward and admitted to taking a banned substance. Not many players would have the courage to admit to doping so credit must be given where it is due in that regard. Hopefully it would prompt more athletes to come clean if they are caught taking a banned substance.
The Russian is one of the biggest female sports stars in the world and has been a staple at the top of the game for over a decade, but proper action must be taken regarding a punishment. Whether aware or not, Sharapova broke WADA rules and must face whatever punishment they give her. If the organisation is serious about tackling doping in sport then they must not make exceptions for any player that is caught.
If there is indeed any more players that are taking banned substances it is vital for the integrity of the sport for these people to be caught and punished appropriately.
Further news will follow when it is announced.