The tennis world has been upturned by the recent ban and scandal of Maria Sharapova. The five time grand slam champion failed a drug test in June, testing positive for a drug called Meldonium. This drug works by increasing blood flow to various parts of the body and increases exercise capacity in athletes. It is only manufactured in Latvia and is not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. It functions in similar ways to blood doping which, by increasing blood flow and oxygen throughout the body, gives specific athletes enhanced abilities. It was found that Meldonium was present in 17 percent of Russian athletes whereas it was only found in 2 percent of athletes globally.
Russian athletes were informed of the ban of Meldonium but Sharapova argued that she’d been taking the drug since 2006 due to a deficiency of magnesium and a family history of diabetes. She was banned from tennis for two years and many of her sponsors dropped their support. Since then she has focused on her life outside tennis and is attending Harvard Business School. She is also known for operating her very successful candy business, Sugarpova.
I argue that a professional athlete should be more competent when it comes to taking substances. It’s vital to verify with the ruling agencies which substances are banned or could be potentially prohibited. It also doesn’t make sense why a professional and competent person such as Sharapova would make such an incompetent mistake.
As a NCAA athlete myself, I can attest firsthand to the rigorous health guidelines that I must abide by. Frequent drug testing is something athletes have to keep in mind even if they’re buying something as benign as protein powder. Sharapova didn’t just receive criticism for this, but her agent came under scrutiny for not notifying his player of the new additions made by the Anti-Doping Agency. Sharapova also failed to notify her American team of physicians and nutritionists of the use of a Mildronate. On all doping control forms Sharapova also failed to put down her use of the drug.
The Anti-Doping Agency doesn’t just ban something without legitimate health concerns. Although she’s a decorated professional athlete she still needs to be held accountable for neglecting to make herself aware of the changes and guidelines she is held to. Sharapova is set to be cleared to play in two years as her sentence states, but she’s working through the appeal process to get it shortened.
Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk.