Maria Sharapova Ruled Guilty, Receives 2-Year Tennis Ban For Doping
by Staff | June 8th, 2016, 11:30 am
  • 49 Comments

According to the ITF, Maria Sharapova is guilty of trying to beat the system.


Sharapova today was banned from tennis for TWO YEARS as a result of failing a doping test at the Australian Open for the drug meldonium.

WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a released statement, “It is important at all times for players to be aware of the rules and to follow them. In this case, Maria has taken responsibility for her mistake from the outset. The WTA supports the process that the ITF and Maria have followed. The ITF has made its ruling and, under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program, the decision may be appealed to the Court Arbitration for Sport. The WTA will continue to follow this closely and we hope it will be resolved as soon as possible.”

Meldonium has turned out to be a widely-used drug among European (especially Russian) athletes. It is a metabolic modulator which increases stamina and endurance, but is widely pointed to as a “heart-health drug.”

“It is very important for you to understand that, for 10 years, this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list and I had been legally taking that medicine,” Sharapova said in March.

Sharapova has not played since losing to Serena Williams at the Australian Open in January.

The ITF stated, “The Independent Tribunal determined that Ms. Sharapova should serve a period of ineligibility of two years; Due to her prompt admission of her violation, that period of ineligibility should be back-dated… to commence from 26 January 2016 (the date of sample collection) and so should end at midnight on 25 January 2018. Her results at the 2016 Australian Open should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that she won at that event.”

Sharapova responded with a Facebook post stating she will appeal the decision.

Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance. The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation — and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position.

While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.
Love, Maria


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49 Comments for Maria Sharapova Ruled Guilty, Receives 2-Year Tennis Ban For Doping

Daniel Says:

Damm.

At least she is still “young” and can play after this ban. Who knows, matbe by that time Serena is retired and she can win something.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

HOLY COW. This is shocking. I fully expected leniency given the fact that it was JUST ADDED to the banned list.

This is likely career ending.

Is tennis turning a corner in taking this more seriously? Is it a WTA push only? Is it a punishment for the Russian substance use in the Olympics?


J-Kath Says:

The length of the ban is not a done deal. She can appeal and get another 6 months knocked off (or not).


Giles Says:

Too harsh. Looks like this is more or less the end of her career.
🙄😚


SG1 Says:

Definitely an appeal coming (if she really wants to play again). Giles is right. This suspension would effectively end her career. Maybe she’s ready to move onto the next part of her life. She already has more money than she’ll ever need and pretty much accomplished everything she can in tennis.


RZ Says:

I am guessing there will be an appeal and the suspension will be changed to one year.


Jack Lewis Says:

2 years seems like a bit much… My guess is her nationality had nothing to do with it.


RZ Says:

I am reading up on this now and it seems that her failure to list meldonium as a medication on any of her forms over the years is a key factor to the 2 year ban. I don’t know about the rules regarding entry forms and all that so it’s hard to weigh in on this aspect.


RZ Says:

Here’s the full decision from the ITF: http://www.itftennis.com/media/231178/231178.pdf


chrisford1 Says:

Troicki and Cilic appealed and got their suspensions reduced. Cilic when they discovered they had banned him and the drug tested was actually below the minimum that would trigger suspension. Troicki for being clean and free of drugs but breaking a rule and lawyers turned it (properly ) into a case
where it hinged on Tricki said this, the doctor said that…lots of doubt.

With Sharapova, I think she gets it reduced because she hi nothing. She declared meldonium on her “current drugs and supplements being taken” entry form. It was accepted by ITF and Australian Open officials that are supposed to read those declarations and she was allowed to play. They either didn’t read it, or were as unaware as she the substance was added to the banned list a month earlier.

Now the classic authoritarian position so loved by organizations, government officials, security apparachniks and lawyers is “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”. It allows then to lay down the law on the masses they know are ignorant of many laws because there is no effort to properly educate people on the law. That of course is deliberate on the authority’s behalf.
Sharapova in her daily email flood didn’t get to the one message that warned it was going to become banned. Her well paid team also missed it.

Don’t like Screamapova. And there is something pleasurable about her being such a giant B*6Tch that she had no friend, even in the Russian players who were also taking meldonium but quit, deciding that the woman who ignores everyone on court and in the locker room didn’t deserve a heads up from them.


chrisford1 Says:

Ooops, I doubled back and read the ITF documents RZ mentioned and must do a 180. There is tons of damaging stuff on her use pattern. And unlike what her PR people put out after use was found – she had failed to document its use on any of her drug/doping declaration forms from 2014-2016.

Other “damners”

1. By her admission, use, a 500mg dose, was only on mornings before her matches in recent tournaments, no other time.
2. She hid use from everyone on her team the last 3 years, except her manager, Max Eisenbud of IMG.
3. She did not mention it’s use to her regular doctor, any doctor she consulted with, meldonium was missing from all “current meds used” lists she filled out for them by her admission.
3. She obtained, and was using the drug, without doctor’s prescription, for the last 3 years, at least. She made no effort to get a legal prescription through her regular doctor or any specialist.
4. Stated she ever mentioned she was using it, to any other player or WTA official.

ITF’s finding:

“She must have known that taking a medication before a match, particularly one not
currently prescribed by a doctor, was of considerable significance. This was a deliberate
decision, not a mistake. Taken together with the evidence that over a period of 3 years she
did not disclose her use of Mildronate to her coach, trainer, physio, nutritionist or any
medical adviser she consulted through the WTA, the facts are only consistent with a
deliberate decision to keep secret from the anti-doping authorities the fact that she was
using Mildronate in competition.”


lyle nubbins Says:

good info Chris Ford!


SG Says:

Read the full decision! Sharapova will try to spin this anyway she wants and people will only read the 2 sentence summaries. From the full decision, it is clear – while they don’t make it a point because they were only focusing on that specific infraction – that she was doping herself since the age of 17. Basically, right after she miraculously won Wimbledon at 17, her father took her to “the” athletes doctor in Moscow who got her on a strict regiment of drugs to get her to maintain and enhance her results so they can milk the money machine. “By that time the list of substances
recommended by Dr. Skalny had grown from 18 to 30, including Magnerot, Riboxin and
Mildronate.” That’s from 2004-2010! Nobody takes 30 pills just for fun. And her ailments are totally unproven. And that doctor is not specific internal medicine doctor but again very likely a special athlete’s performance enhancement doctor. But he had a system – or rather that Russian system had a system. They would run all these drugs against the WADA list annually going to the WADA lab in Moscow to make sure the special cocktail won’t trip anything.

The rise of Djokovic in 2011 and his gluten-free and nutrition-is-everything mantra tripped Sharapova in seeking other magical powers to maintain her position on the top. She switched to a nutritionist and stopped going to the Moscow doctor because she was tired of ingesting 30 pills… for no particular reason I might add. But, nonetheless, decided to not taken a chance and kept taking 3 medications – exactly before matches and training blocks – just in case the Moscow doctor was right all along and the nutrition alone didn’t get her in top winning shape. All that while hiding everything from everyone – her team, her nutritionist, WTA doctors, etc. Except the one confidant – the IMG manager – her money maker – who promised to stay on top of the banned substances list in secret and alert her if she needed to change something. And the confidant failed to do his job because he got divorced in 2015. And because he didn’t know that he wasn’t supposed to only check for the brand name but for the actual name of the substance. Rookie stuff.

With that story out in the open now, one can really seriously consider all her titles and Grand Slams. And she has the nerve to say: it wasn’t intentional and I should be punished less. Even citing how much money she stands to loose and the fact that she will miss the Olympics, when the rules are abundantly clear that no amounts of monetary loss or missing events should be taken in consideration because ALL athletes are supposed to be treated the same.

Two years is the lenient sentence here. This was has intentional doping written all over it for many, many years.


mat4 Says:

A great article about the context of the Sharapova case — although Sharapova isn’t mentioned.

https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/rope-a-doper-american-style-dont-do-as-i-do-do-as-i-say/


BBB Says:

SG – I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. It’s compelling. But to me, if known substances aren’t banned, I hesitate to call someone a doper. Where do you draw the line between that which is permitted and that which is not? Maybe someone has a good answer for that – I’m ready to be educated.

CF – I stand corrected on her disclosures.


J-Kath Says:

Re. Maria: They can only consider the period after the big “M” was banned. The other stuff (although it sounds horrific/ deliberate) is being used as the foundation/to build the case, for the very short period Maria “mistakingly” took “M” after which it was banned.

Hence it is likely her appeal will reduce her sentence, no matter how much we and they think she’s been at it for years.!

MAT 4…. Think you might agree?


BBB Says:

J-Kath, I’ve now read the decision, and I’m not sure she’ll get a reduction. They did find her intention was performance-enhancing, even if it wasn’t to contravene the rules. It also essentially accuses her of intentionally misleading tennis authorities for years by not disclosing that she was taking it.

Under those circumstances, it’s hard for me to see how they will feel comfortable reducing her sentence.

I wonder what her lawyers argued on proportionality. It doesn’t seem as though they argued anything too compelling.


Wog Boy Says:

Maybe her lawyer waited for them to come out with what they have show their cards so they ca strike back on appeal, leaving WADA unable to come with anything else, but to defend their decision. They might do well on appeal since they were quiet o far.


chrisford1 Says:

1. Didn’t put it on her tournament entry sheets since 2014. Told no one but her manager/agent.
2. Apparently a drug not sold in the US, but requiring a prescription in Europe. She had no doctor’s prescription or documented medical need in recent years.
3. Did not tell her personal physician or specialist MDs she was seeing she was taking it, and omitted it from her “what drugs or supplements are you taking?” – but was forthcoming about what routine meds she was sing.
4. The testing, and info admitted by her in questioning, reveals she was taking it only on days she was playing a match. For many years. 500mg dose of meldonium, more with tougher opponents in earlier years.
5. Cannot shift blame on others, because no one else knew. Her failure to have her coach, dietician, physio, personal doc able to have her back. It’s all on her.

2 years seems appropriate even if the curtain closes on her screams in pro tennis, because it is very likely she packs it in rather than try the Troicki comeback route that took Viktor a year and a half to get back where he once was before suspension. (And Viktor had friends that set up practicies with top players in top facilities, got him wildcards, shared support team help for Viktor. Does Maria have anything like that??)


BBB Says:

I wonder what the rules are. In some fora, you’re quite limited as to what you can argue on appeal, if you haven’t argued it below…. They seem to have gone the route of “she’s rich and will be less rich!” and that was not well-received, it seems…. Not surprisingly…..

Knowing nothing about how to litigate these things, the most common-sense argument to me is that the period of infraction was so brief (one or two tournaments?), and the harm to the game so minimal given that and hte recency of the prohibition, that the length of the ban is too much under the circumstances.


Wog Boy Says:

I just don’t believe that she doesn’t have a good team of solicitors who are going to go through the sentence word by word and try to tear it apart in every possible way, unless she accepted that this is it and doesn’t want to fight her way back into top of tennis, but somehow such possibility doesn’t fit her personality, she is a fighter, never give up person.


BBB Says:

There I agree with you, WB.


mat4 Says:

@J-Kath, you’re inspiring me to write my opinion about the “case”, and it’s way different.

Many assume that Maria told the truth, let’s think about it.

1) It was impossible that her team didn’t know she used Midronate. She uses other supplements, she takes medications from time to time, and she had to know how Midronate interact with those. Does anybody think that she could take a complicated medication to dose without the help of a physician? But Midronate is not approved for use in the US, and the person giving it could be prosecuted.

1b) While she can become a fashion icon if she stops playing tennis, her team… career finished. So, she just covered them.

2) Midronate doesn’t clear from the body for months, even a year. She had no chance in January, even March, to be clean.

3) She had the right to use it — it wasn’t banned, it protects the heart during stress (she took it before training, before matches). I don’t think she used it exclusively because she thought it would help keep her heart safe, but see below.

4) It becomes clear now that all the agencies involved made everything possible for her not to know that Midronate was put on the list of banned substances. I wouldn’t be surprised if the links in her mail pointed to pages where Midronate was not listed.

5) Midronate was put on that list without any proofs that it is a PED. The real argument to put it on the list was because many athletes used it. It’s all based on thin air. Coffee is a PED, green tea too, and lemonade, of course.

6) Sharapova was a high profile scapegoat for many disturbing reasons. I gave a link already. It’s very well known since the attack on FIFA (which was completely illegal), the current attack on the OG in Brazil (virus Zika? are you kidding me?). Why do you think Guga was at Roland Garros, and why it was important that Novak confirmed he would play? I wrote already about the geopolitical importance of sports. It’s also a question of money, huge money.


mat4 Says:

@WB:

Nike renewed the contract with Mariao. Don’t be surprised if the ban is reduced to 6 months after appeal.

Good team of sollicitors? If she had a good team, she would have denied, insisted that it was legal, and put forward that she did it for years, and the body can’t clean itself from Midronate for months. But since it was all a set-up, she was pressed to admit her guilt.


mat4 Says:

Maria is as clear as any top athlete that uses legal supplements to his diet.


mat4 Says:

It’s double standards at their highest. It’s just like the case of HP chambers — which are impossible to put on any list, since their effect is basically the same as living in high altitude.

1) Main scapegoat: Djokovic;

2) used by: Hewitt, Stosur and all the Australians, because it’s legal to have a HPB in Australia,

3) many American players, BMS, JI, etc.;

4) Spanish and French Federations that I know;

5) Murray give it a try.

But the only egg-lover is Novak. Oh, no. They all like eggs.


J-Kath Says:

Matt4

The fact that Maria did or did not reveal her intake of Midronate before it was banned is neither here nor there. The same applies to her uptake of other drugs in the past, albeit taken secretly.

She was banned for Midronate in her system after it was categorized as illegal. That’s the whole story.

As HP chambers are legal, the benefit is potentially available to all athletes.

Ah well, we can all have our views. I just don’t see all the issues surrounding the case as pertinent.


mat4 Says:

The fact that Midronate needs 6 months to 1 year to clear from the body, and that the WADA has no clues about his potential effects, the way it cleans from the body, etc. is also important. Maria could use it legally and still be banned.


mat4 Says:

The way WADA works, not alerting of new products banned, is also fishy.

The point of my post, I you read it well and put things together is that:

– it was very well known that she used it,

– there was no way she wouldn’t be “caught”.


J-Kath Says:

@BBB 9.27pm

I seem to recall some comments previously that Maria tried to protect herself from heart problems prevalent within her family. (In her late teens a friend had to stop playing squash because of palpitations and had to take medication). Similar to Maria?

As you correctly state, Maria did not report her usage of “M” to authorities in the past, but she didn’t have to. Perhaps she did not want her competitors to know?

Anyway, sorry to disagree, but I still think she will benefit from an appeal.


mat4 Says:

J-Kath,

In the world of adults, it works this way:

– you want to organize the soccer World Cup,

– but Russia is chosen; so, you spy on a little country like Swiss, then blackmail it, and you arrest FIFA officials that are out of your jurisdiction, for things that our of your jurisdiction;

– You want the OG 2024, but you organized the OG ten times already… so you create panic everywhere, to get them again.

– The leading athlete of a foreign country has an American team: you order, blackmail, pay her nutritionist not to see a substance is on the prohibited list; at the same time, you do whatever you can that no other members of the stuff of this athlete can see that the substance got on that list.

– You cover you cyclists, your main stars, from Carl Lewis to Florence Griffith from being caught, and when they are caught, you pardon them. You catch them only when it’s unavoidable (Armstrong).

J-Kath… don’t be naive.


mat4 Says:

staff…


mat4 Says:

Russian athletes use a substance. You pay a “scientist” to publish a “scientific article” that the said substance has PED effects. You make sure WADA, an organization you control, puts it on the list, and since that substance can’t be cleared from the body, you use the positive tests to compromise all the athletes of the said country.


J-Kath Says:

Mat 4

You’re reading too many novels. It’s the embellishments around Maria’s case that detract from the single fact that she took midronate after it was banned. Whether she took it to enhance her performance (which is strongly suggested) or she took it for other reasons can only be considered for the period when she acted unlawfully. Such a very short period of time should not produce a 2 year ban.

Am fed up with it now. Cheers.


BBB Says:

JK, you may well be right that the sentence will be reduced. However, it was not simply suggested that she took it to enhance performance – it was an affirmative finding of the tribunal. After firing the Russian doctor, she continued to take it and did not disclose to her current (American) physicians and thus was taking it without medical supervision, which the tribunal found contradicted the argument that she was using it for cardiac purposes. And the doctor who prescribed it in the first instance was not a cardiologist. Finally, they found that while she disclosed a number of vitamins and medications on her tournament forms as required, she intentionally did not disclose meldonium.

I don’t know if you’ve read the decision or not, but I recommend doing so if you haven’t. Reading it changed my view of the situation significantly.


Okiegal Says:

I agree with JK….it wasn’t a banned substance all the years she took it prior to 2016. She is not my favorite player by any means, but the 2 yr ban, way too harsh, imho…….punishment should be from January 2016 forward. Her use at that point was a slip up with herself and her team. I just don’t think she is that stupid to go on playing and knowing it…..makes no sense. If she was using it as PED, it was legit…until 2016.


mat4 Says:

J-Kath:

I wont get angry after your last comment, because we don’t know who we are, how old and how educated we are, what our jobs are, etc.

But to accuse me to read too much novels… I am a very respectable and serious person. I am very educated, and I am formally very educated. On the other side, since I’ve been interacting with you for months, I would have the decency to ask you for more explanations, if you had made similar assertions.

Another link, if I haven’t posted already, about Mildronate:

http://www.cebm.net/sharapova-drug-story-whats-evidence-part-2-2/


Willow Says:

Its a shame as Marias whole career is now tainted because of this, and all based on a lie, she was the second best player in this era too, didnt care for her as a player, but her fighting qualities, and mental fortitude were second to none, who knows if she will be the same player on her reurn, if she does return ? ….


BBB Says:

The thing is, it’s not a 4 year ban because they found her breach unintentional. So the rules provide for a 2 year ban in such cases. You can’t logically argue it should be cut even further on the same principle – that it was unintentional, as that’s already been factored in. There would have to be other extenuating circumstances.


skeezer Says:

@Willow
Her 2004 run at Wimpy was AMAZING, and 17 years of age. For me that was the highlight of her career.


elina Says:

^^^ Amazing what meldonium and other “supplements” can do…

Well Roger is not a supporter…

“Whether it’s intentional or not, I don’t see too much difference. You must be 100 percent about what you are taking, [and] know its effects and consequences.”

Preach it Rog.


J-Kath Says:

Hi Okiegal
Haven’t “spoken” since I returned. Hope you are well and cheerful. Good to read we are on the same page.

@Mat4: You said I was naive, so instead of looking for my high horse, I chose a different response. I’m sorry you took it as an accusation, I hoped you might see it as an appropriate tit for tat. I usually enjoy your logic but felt you were adorning the case versus Maria (who is the most annoying player for me because of the shrieking).

BBB: Yes, I did read the article and originally felt much like you have expressed. Rightly, or wrongly I decided it had to be accepted as background as the reason for banning her was for taking the “M” for a few months when it became an illegal substance – and only that.


Okiegal Says:

Hi, JK…..hope you had a great time on holiday. Doing OK in Oklahoma. Our OU girl’s softball team are national champs for this year. Happy about that…..our NBA Thunder team not so good. Skeezer’s California team whooped up on us…maybe next year!! Sad Rafa is out for Wimby but knew he would be, and I will bet Rio is out too…..maybe Cincy and Montreal will be his next tournaments then USO……I can hope!


BBB Says:

Fair enough, J-Kath.


mat4 Says:

J-Kath:

It’s OK then. I didn’t know that “don’t be naive” could be offensive in English. It’s very neutral in the languages I use more often.

Next time, please take in account that English for me… is a foreign language.


mat4 Says:

But what I wrote stands. Sharapova took mildronate, but mildronate was put on the list because Russians use it, not because it’s a PED — we still don’t have a clue about it.

And that the US are doing what I have describe is a fact.


J-Kath Says:

Mat4:

I did know that English was a foreign language for you but probably forgot. For me, “Naive” is a wee bit patronising as opposed to being offensive. Anyway, not an issue.

Okie: Was a wonderful break. Hot, hot, steaming hot weather. My skin, just recovering from my stress-rash, fell foul of a myriad of biting flying creatures. Nonetheless, am refreshed.
So sorry about Rafa, really fingers and toes crossed for his full recovery. Meanwhile, glad you are enjoying your other sports.

BBB: Okeydoke.


Okiegal Says:

@JK….Glad you are refreshed…..I won’t be come morning time…..it is 4:41 have not batted an eye. Insomnia seems to be getting worse. Yesterday it was 7:30 before I finally fell asleep! Driving me crazy……Yes thank goodness for other sports, tennis is sucky for me……atm.


mat4 Says:

@J-Kath:

OK about “naive”. Won’t use it any more. We have a good communication and, even when I don’t fully understand, I do my best to read your posts from a positive side. But often, when I write seriously about very serious topics that have repercussion in tennis, I face the same type of comments and I overreact.

Here, we did it a bit both — the barriers of language and Weltanschauung were a bit too high.

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