Those in the sports policing community that touted the doping ban on Maria Sharapova showing that “no one is above the law” are now sputtering in disbelief.
On Wednesday the World Anti-Doping Agency said provisional suspensions can be lifted on athletes that have tested positive for meldonium if a hearing panel can find an athlete took meldonium before it was banned on Jan. 1, then later tested positive.
This comes in the wake of 172 athletes, many Russian, who have tested positive for the drug since it was banned for 2016.
In a statement, WADA outlined that athletes could have taken meldonium in late 2015, and still had it in their systems when tested in January 2016, as Sharapova was.
Sharapova claimed she was taking the drug, which its manufacturer says has performance-enhancing abilities (then said it didn’t) for various reasons, including magnesium deficiency and to ward off diabetes. Maybe from eating too much of her own “Sugarpova”-marketed candy and chocolates.
Sharapova’s lawyer was all over the decision.
“The fact that WADA felt compelled to issue this unusual statement now is proof of how poorly they handled issues relating to Meldonium in 2015,” said John Haggerty, Sharapova’s attorney, in a statement. “Given the fact that scores of athletes have tested positive for taking what previously was a legal product, it’s clear WADA did not handle this properly last year and they’re trying to make up for it now…This notice should have been widely distributed in 2015, when it would have made a difference in the lives of many athletes.”
Sharapova has admitted not reading the doping update e-mail, saying she made a “huge mistake,” while the same time on her website writing that WADA was at fault for burying information. She is awaiting her drug hearing which is expected in May or June.
Sharapova for her part would not say how often she took the drug or when she last took it.
It’s an interesting backtracking from WADA.
1) Create a loophole for athlete
2) Let athlete walk through it
Look for Sharapova and the other high-profile athletes that have tested positive to further lawyer-up. And by the way the wind is blowing, look for Sharapova to be back on the court by the Olympics this summer.
You Might Like:
Rafael Nadal: I Believe My Rivals Are Clean, I Believe The Sport Is Clean And I Believe In The Doping Program
Maria Sharapova Files Appeal With CAS, Seeks Full Elimination Of 2-Year Doping Ban
Maria Sharapova Ruled Guilty, Receives 2-Year Tennis Ban For Doping
Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed A Drug Test At The Australian Open [Video]
Yanina Wickmayer Tennis Doping Press Conference