Many of you wanted heads on a stick. Well, now you got one. Yesterday, the much-maligned anti-doping program snared its biggest catch yet, global superstar Maria Sharapova.
In a surprise press conference at an LA hotel, Sharapova confessed that she messed up. The 5-time Grand Slam champion who seems to be always in control of the things she can control like press conferences, like her words, like her sponsors, like those around her, failed to click an email link that would have told her a drug she had been taking for the last 10 years including during the Australia Open – meldonium – was prohibited.
One single missed click. And now look at the damage. Sharapova’s life and legacy may never be the same. Maybe even tennis as a sport.
I won’t get into the specifics of the drug or why she was using it – used for those with heart conditions I’ve read – the key here is that failed to read that email. And, as she admits, that’s 100% on her.
Sharapova’s troupe of lawyers will argue medical reasons and whatnot for the usage of the drug, but the fact remains other players read that email, why didn’t she?
So she’s going to get hit and not just in the wallet which is already happening. And word is it could be up to a four-year ban. I don’t think it will go that long but Sharapova’s going to miss significant time – at least a year minimum I think.
Rules are rules and the argument that you didn’t read them just doesn’t fly in cases like this. If you are worth millions, if you are among the top female athletes in the world, you have to know what you are putting in your body. So that’s on you for being negligent.
And with Sharapova’s 29th birthday coming up in April, she’s not going to have much time left in tennis – let’s be honest, most thought this was a retirement press conference, anyway!
That said, I give her credit for coming out ahead of the ITF and for being forthright, but again, as she said she made a “mistake” there will be consequences.
Sharapova will now meet with the doping officials who will weigh her arguments and based on that issue a ruling hopefully by the French. Sharapova then has the option to appeal, but I just don’t see any chance this gets dismissed or with a short, slap-on-the-wrist type of suspension. Tennis has to deal with this just like any other case. She can’t be held to a different standard.
So Maria’s going down. It’s just a question of how far down she goes and if she can get back up. And how of much of tennis, women’s especially, gets dragged down with her.
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