by DOMINICK PUENTE/Staff Writer
One of the most prolific women’s tennis players in the world, Maria Sharapova recently tested positive in a drug test for the Australian Open.
Sharapova held a press conference in early March in order to explain to the media, along with the world, that she had failed the drug test for the Australian Open and took full responsibility for her actions.
She openly admitted to taking the medication Meldonium that was detected in the drug test. Sharapova explained to the media that her family doctor prescribed the medication, and she had been openly taking it for the past 10 years. The medication is commonly used for athletes to enhance their endurance and ability to recover from tiring performances.
The World-Anti-Doping-Agency (WADA) recently announced the drug would become illegal in January. Sharapova announced that she received an email from WADA announcing the medication would be on the list of banned substances. However, she did admit that she failed to click on the link in her email explaining when the ban was to begin.
Sharapova has been an iconic figure in sports for women throughout the world. She has achieved remarkable milestones in her career, such as winning Wimbledon as a 17-year-old.
Her accomplishments have carried her through her professional career. But her negligence could bring severe consequences when her punishment is decided. Given her reputation for following the rules by the book and staying out of trouble, the sports world took to social media to express concerns and disappointment. A few big-name sponsors have dropped her from their contracts, along with a few sponsors she had lined up.
Given the circumstances, I believe Sharapova should be punished for the failed drug test. She is a big-name athlete who many people look up to, and this is a setback to her career. Failing a drug test should never be taken lightly in any sport.
In previous years, suspensions for failed drug tests in women’s tennis ranged from two to five years. In rare occasions, suspensions could be handed down that are less than a year. The fact that Sharapova neglected to open her email to see the list of banned substances should result in a lengthy suspension.
It is not difficult to check the list occasionally to keep up with what is legal and what is not legal. Professional athletes should not have a problem staying up to date with certain things of this nature. This is her livelihood, which means Sharapova should be very concerned with what her punishment could be.
Professional tennis has the strictest drug rules out of any sport. Receiving a minimal suspension of a year or less will take a great deal of pleading and explaining. Sharapova could also apply for a Therapeutic Use of Exemption (TUE). A TUE allows a player to use a banned substance without breaking any anti-doping laws. However, to use the medication, her and her personal doctor must prove she must continue to use the medication.
However the Women’s Tennis Association sees Sharapova’s case, they should remind her of the expectations they hold for the world of women’s tennis. Violating one of the most controversial rules in all of sports should never be overlooked. No matter the person and what he or she has accomplished, athletes violating the rules should not be handled lightly.
For Sharapova, she is now 28 years old. Depending on a length of her suspension, Sharapova could lose a solid chunk of the rest of her career.
Staying on top of rules and regulations should be encouraged even more with her type of case. This would be a good way for the tennis organization to enforce that matter.