Appeal Delayed! Maria Sharapova Won’t Be At The Olympics Or The US Open

by Tom Gainey | July 12th, 2016, 9:54 am

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced yesterday that their ruling on the Maria Sharapova doping appeal won’t be decided until as late as September 19.

In a statement, CAS said, “Maria Sharapova and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have agreed to defer the CAS decision until September 2016. Due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts, the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal. A decision is expected to be issued by 19 September 2016.”

Previously, CAS said they would expedite their decision before the Olympics on or by July 19. But with the ruling no longer expedited, Sharapova’s participation hopes in the summer games and the US Open is over.

With the latest news, Sharapova, who hasn’t played since February, won’t return before the fall Asian swing at the earliest.

Sharapova received a 2-year ban from the ITF last month for using the banned drug meldonium.

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18 Comments for Appeal Delayed! Maria Sharapova Won’t Be At The Olympics Or The US Open

Dennis Says:

Even if the appeal went ahead, there was basically zero chance she’d be at either the Olympics or US Open this year. Even on appeal, the best she can hope for is a reduction from a ban of 2 years to 1.

SG1 Says:

She wasn’t going to play again this year anyway. The shortest ban she’ll get will be a year. She had been using the drug for a long time and it’s likely she was aware of some of the drugs performance enhancing properties.

I still think that 2 years is too harsh for a drug only banned in January. I would have blocked her from playing the 4 majors this year and let her play in the Olympics on the condition that she is tested as often as the powers that be thinks she should be. The Olympics happen only once every 4 years. Then again, she may have decided avoid Rio anyway given the issues with Zika.

SG1 Says:

LOL…Dennis and I are reading from the same script.

Dennis Says:

I think time served is already enough of a ban for a drug that was only put on the banned list in January, and about which there are genuine pharmacological questions regarding whether it provides any true performance enhancing benefit (I also tend to believe Maria truly didn’t know it had been banned – though she surely should have known. After all, does anyone think is she really reckless and stupid enough to know it had been banned, but keep using it in January anyway knowing she’d be tested in Australia?).

Still, under the rules, the best she can really hope for is 1 year rather than 2, so Olympics and USO were not on the cards for her this year anyway.

chrisford1 Says:

I believe the matter is made tougher to settle because it is not one athlete, but a whole host of them on meldonium besides Sharapova that WADA is still grappling with. Primarily Russian athletes, and further complicated by the Russian lab used for testing apparently fixing results and Putin politics and of course the Olympics now commanding the focus of execs at WADA and the sports bodies caught up in the meldonium and lab testing scandal.
It’s bigger than Sharapova. And the delay seems to build in the assumption many have that it has pretty much been conceded a minimum one year ban starting Jan 1 for caught athletes will stand. So no rush. Plus the integrity of drug testing at labs inside Russia needs restoration. Post-Olympics? What will be arbitrated is if bans greater than 1 year will be imposed on Sharapova and others, most outside tennis.
Sharapova, even if it is only one year banned, would start with zero ranking points, like Troicki. Many sponsors who dropped her will not sign her up again – especially as she works the obscure qualies and remote smaller events next year to build her points up. IF she decides to return pushing 30 years old, and having no dire need for money, and no real friends on Tour to help her train and get wildcards.

Dennis Says:

You misunderstand the case. This is no longer a purely WADA case, nor does it’s outcome depend on anything else relating to WADA or other ongoing WADA cases. This is an appeal to the CAS.There are legally limited things that can be done at this point, and those bear no relation to ongoing and unrelated WADA cases for other athletes.

Also, unlike some Meldonium cases that have been thrown out because of lack of evidence over how long the drug may stay in one’s system (i.e. the athletes claim to have stopped taking it before January 1, 2016, but got positive tests because it simply hadn’t left their system), Sharapova admitted to taking it after January 1, 2016.

chrisford1 Says:

Dennis – The ITF report concluded she knowingly concealed her use for many years, was aware of performance enhancement because she doubled or tripled her dose the day of a tough match, and damned herself by her actions and willful concealment. She never listed it on any prescription and non prescription drug disclosure form she submitted for any Tournament. She never told her team. Or any doctor or physio treating her. Only disclosed her use to her business agent.
Does anyone think she was reckless and stupid? Apparantly, just about everybody involved with the WTA thinks she was.

Dennis Says:

How often and why she used it before 2016 is actually irrelevant, whether the ITF hearing dwelled on that issue or not (that will be an argument in her favour on appeal). It was legal before 2016, so she can legally (both in general law and in terms of WADA rules) take it for any reason or no reason at all before then. But again, if she truly knew it had been banned as of Jan 1, 2016, does anyone think she would have simply continued to use it knowing she would be tested in Australia?

As far as the performance enhancement claims go, the ITF is simply regurgitating WADA’s own claims, which have not been independently verified scientifically, and which again are irrelevant prior to 2016 usage. If WADA suddenly decides next year to find “blood-spinning” to be an illegal performance enhancer, are you willing to go back in time and indict and punish Rafa for his former usage of such treatments?

chrisford1 Says:

Dennis, it’s you can’t see the forest for the trees stuff. Years before meldonium was banned, it’s use was controversial with some sports bodies demanding it be added to the prohibited list. You could not buy it as a legal prescription drug except in former Soviet Bloc countries.
Before it was legally banned in sports, Sharapova got her supply of the drug smuggled into the USA.
She concealed its use all through her career, violating existing policy that players were obligated to list all drugs used on their official disclosure forms. She hid it’s use from her team and all doctors and physios that treated her.
So any claims of innocence and being *shocked!* that it was suddenly banned is, as the ITF Report says, “risible”.
She hid it from all her sponsors, many who stipulated in their endorser’s contracts that she list all her legal supplements, drugs, and comply fully with WTA and ITF disclosure regulations.

She didn’t.

And since everyone was kept in the dark that should have known, no one was able to learn of the ban independently and give her a heads up.

She made her own mess. Sponsors whose disclosure contracts she violated will not argue for a short ban, and the WTA? The WTA is ticked at her blowing off drug disclosure regulations of all legal and illegal substances ingested, the execs who once loved her as a marketing monster have been embarrassed, and most gals who are now playing have always disliked her.

And lets just say that Yuri Sharapov might be sweating a bit and worried if FDA and US Customs agents may be coming around asking how he or a smuggling ring he hired managed to smuggle boxes and boxes of a drug not permitted to be imported for prescription use in the USA over the last 13 years.. Fortunately, it is not on the DEA’s list, but importation of a drug not authorized for prescription medical use or taken without a prescription is a criminal offense under FDA laws. And failure to do a truthful customs declaration, is a criminal offense. And the last thing old Yuri wants to do is say he was just a middleman for the ultimate purchaser.

BBB Says:

Dennis, isn’t the requirement 2 years (as the violation was unintentional), and the burden is then on Sharapova to argue that the ban should be shorter than that? I’m not an expert, but it seems those who succeed in having a lower suspension argued that they ingested the substance accidentally (e.g. Cilic). That is not the case with Sharapova.

In that respect – that it’s her burden to show she deserves a lower ban – it seems to the panel was well within its discretion to consider the purpose for which she took it.

Dennis Says:

The ITF requirement is two years for what they found her guilty of, though they somewhat contradict themselves. The way the ITF ruling reads and recites the facts they found relevant, sounds as if they found her guilty of using mildronate for deliberate performance enhancement, and refers to usage dates that pre-date the ban, even though such usage on those dates is actually irrelevant from a legal standpoint. Under the rules, she should have a 4 year ban for intentional usage of a performance enhancer, but contradicting the evidence they present as factually established, the ITF nonetheless gave her just a 2 year penalty, which means they actually found her use “not-intentional” for the purposes of performance enhancement.

Again, reading the ruling and the way they state the facts contradicts this decision with regard to the penalty. The ITF seems to want it both ways. It’s also worth noting that the WADA 2/4 year penalty system is basically geared toward the Olympic cycle and for sports for which the Olympics are the pinnacle of the sport, not for a sport which has 4 majors a year and for which the Olympics are a mid-major event at best.

The CAS is not bound by the findings of the ITF hearing, however, and has authority to reduce the penalty, or even to increase it, should they chose based on the evidence presented (much as they reduced Cilic’s penalty after the ITF initially gave him a longer ban).

Tennis and other sports (golf) made a big mistake when they outsourced their doping regs to WADA (and ultimately IOC bureaucrats). WADA and its methods of establishing what drugs are truly performance enhancing and which aren’t needs to be put under more stringent scrutiny.

By the way, how does one truly define “performance enhancement”? Nadal, for example, played with pain-killer injections in his wrist to get him through the first two rounds of the French Open before he withdrew, saying he couldn’t continue to do so without risk of further injury. Why is this allowed? Such injections gave him more of a performance enhancement for those 2 rounds than mildronate has ever been proven to give anyone. Why is it ok to take pain-killer injections during a tournament to get you through? The whole concept of what constitutes permissible “performance enhancement” when it comes to supplements, pain-killers, etc. needs to be radically re-examined.

Danica Says:

This whole case about forbidding the Russian team to compete hqs nothing to do with doping and everything to do with politics.

J-Kath Says:

I think the main problem at the moment is that she no longer has time to challenge the verdict. She cannot now compete at the Olympics which she was aiming to do.

chrisford1 Says:

Nadal, for example, played with pain-killer injections in his wrist to get him through the first two rounds of the French Open before he withdrew, saying he couldn’t continue to do so without risk of further injury. Why is this allowed?

Under the rule common throughout sports that a formal medical “therapeutic use exemption” for treatment of an injury is made by a doctor and approved by the regulating body.

Wog Boy Says:

Somehow, I think that Olympic games will be disaster due to so many reasons that has nothing to do with sport and Brasil will foot the bill, more debt to IMF or TWB.
They will have to reinvent them since they already lost the aura and are grossly politicized, Pierre de Coubertin is turning in his grave.
At least we can tell the bedtime stories to our grandkids “Once upon a time it used to be athletic competition called Olympic Games that had its origins in Ancient Greece ….”

chrisford1 Says:

Dennis – On the other hand, I fully agree with you that organized sports needs to take a big step back and look at what is performance enhancing, what is on the banned list that is widely used for medical conditions vs. injury that offers no performance advantage or an incredibly minute one less stimulating than a cup of tea (Petra Kvitova and others asthma medication, for example).
Sports is also locked in a “just say no, think of the children, the children that count on athletes (many born thugs) as role models.” Trace amounts of coke in Gasquet, the fact that if he snorted on court his play would fall in shambles? Marijuana?? Rethink all that stuff unless it impacts performance.
And as pharma technology as moved on from Nancy Reagan times 35 years ago, somehow some drugs that just aid in recovery time are on the banned list.
Outside drugs, expensive diet substances and physical recovery devices – mechanical/electronic/body chem testing – is becoming more sophisticated and expensive and and setting up an unfair advantage for well paid star athletes that can afford all the tech while new players or less cash-rich teams cannot.
Nothing wrong with better tech. But it has to be made available and affordable to all, to level the playing field.

BBB Says:

Dennis – I read the decision carefully and don’t think it was a contradiction. She did not intentionally violate the rule – because she did not know the rule exists – and therefore she got the 2 year ban. Had she intentionally violated the rule, she would have gotten 4 years.

The discussion of her reasons for taking the drug go, in my view, to the question of whether she should have a reduction of the 2 year ban, which, as I said above, is entirely within their discretion.

RZ Says:

Someone else who won’t be at the Olympics – Victoria Azarenka. Vika announced today that she is pregnant and will be out for the rest of the year.

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