By Ros Satar
- Andy Murray surprised at racquet sponsor Head’s continued endorsement
- Believes Maria Sharapova should be suspended
- Thinks the tennis authorities could still do more against doping
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Andy Murray took a hard line stance against the shock news that Maria Sharapova had tested positive for a now banned drug at the start of the week.
In a week that has been dominated by the fallout from Sharapova’s announcement in LA that she had tested positive for a drug (Mildronate, also known as Meldonium) she had taken over the last 10 years.
Yet for Murray it did not seem as much of a surprise, commenting that stories like this are now becoming a regular occurrence. But interestingly with the numbers of athletes testing positive for the same drug since the start of the year – something did not ring true.
“I read that 55 athletes have failed tests for that substance since January 1st. You don’t expect athletes at the top of many different sports to have heart conditions.”
While players like Serena Williams acknowledged that Sharapova had at least taken full responsibility for her actions, Murray questioned whether she had done enough herself to avoid the situation.
“Some people put a lot of trust in the team around them, so it’s hard to say what’s the right thing for everyone, but I think it’s almost part of her job to know everything that’s going into her body, not just rely on what a doctor’s saying or a physio’s saying; that you check yourself as well to make sure, and double check to make sure that anything that’s going into your body is safe.”
Never one to sit on the fence, Murray cast some doubt as to whether the reasons for Sharapova’s prolonged use of the drug for a decade were valid, regardless of whether or not the drug had been legal up until the start of this year.
He said: “I think taking a prescription drug that you don’t necessarily need, but just because it is legal, that’s wrong, clearly.”
He elaborated on what he does take – namely protein shakes, energy gels, sports drinks on court, and any vitamin requirements through his diet.
Murray, also sponsored by racquet manufacturer Head, was surprised by their positive stance while Sharapova’s other sponsors have been quick to put some distance between themselves and the five-time Grand Slam winner.
He said: “I think it’s a strange stance given everything that’s happened the last few days. I don’t really know what else to say on that but that’s not something I believe in, really.
“I think at this stage it’s important to get all of the facts and let things sort of play out, let more information come out before making a decision to extend the contract like that, in my view. Yeah I personally wouldn’t have responded like that.”
It is no surprise that Murray is taking a hard line in this case. He famously tweeted ‘Good Riddance’ after Wayne Odesnik was handed a 15 year ban this time last year for a second doping violation. He was equally as forthcoming on the situation that Sharapova now finds herself facing.
He concluded: “If you were taking a prescription drug and you were not using that for what that drug was meant for, then you don’t need it. You’re just using it for the performance enhancing benefits that that drug is giving you, and I don’t think that that’s right.
“[It’s] not up for me to decide the punishment, but if you’re taking performance enhancing drugs and you fail a drugs test, you have to get suspended.”
Murray arrived in Indian Wells late Monday night, after an intense five set match against World No. 6 Kei Nishikori in the Davis Cup World Group first round tie between Great Britain and Japan. Having returned to the court after a five and a half week break, this will be his first tournament outdoors, and he will play for the first time on Friday, partnering fellow Brit Colin Fleming in the doubles.
The BNP Paribas Open takes place between 7-20 March.
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