Maria Sharapova is one of the most famous tennis players in the world. She lived in the United States for 10 years and during her time living here she was taking melodonium (mildronate), a drug that is not available nor approved for use in the United States. When it was determined that she tested positive for taking melodonium (mildronate) after this year’s Australian Open, she was notified of her positive test and suspension. She then claimed that she was taking it for a medical-related problem.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) investigated her and she had a hearing over two days from 18-19 May with the ITF investigative tribunal. After the hearing, the ITF investigative tribunal determined that she did not intentionally dope to cheat but she did bare “sole responsibility and very significant fault” for her positive testing results. Sharapova responded by releasing a statement the she would be appealing the decision through the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It should be noted that the ITF was calling for a four-year ban that would have essentially ended her professional career.
Sharapova has maintained that she was unaware that the drug she had been taking since 2006, mildronate, was also known as meldonium. She also said in March that she had started using the drug, which boosts blood and oxygen flow, under a doctor’s guidance a decade ago because of irregular electrocardiogram results and a family history of heart issues and diabetes. That drug became a banned substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list as of January 1, 2016; and she used the drug after January 1, 2016 taking it before each of her matches at the Australian Open.
The investigative tribunal ruled that her suspension of 2 years should be retroactive back to January 26, 2016, the day the sample was submitted, and her prompt admission of her violation. The ban is a major setback for Maria Sharapova because it means that she will not be able to complete in the Rio 2016 Olympics for Russia.
The following contributed to this article:
by Fred Cromartie, Ed. D.
Dr. Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.