The international tennis fraternity has been running through one if its roughest patches in recent times. Amongst all the hard work, flair and exquisite skill on show, the sport has found itself mired in match fixing and doping. Before the Australian Open, two major media giants had released reports on the possibility of widespread match fixing in tennis. These reports have alleged the involvement of tennis’ top-ranked players. What’s worse, the authorities have been accused of ignoring such evidence. Soon after the fixing scandal, however, the sport has found itself mired in a doping controversy. Maria Sharapova, an icon of the women’s game, recently confessed to having tested positive for meldonium, a banned substance, at the recent edition of the Australian Open.
Sharapova is not only one of the highest paid athletes in the tennis fraternity but also an inspiration and one of the most recognisable faces in the world. Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) monitoring list of banned substances on January 1, 2016. As per WADA rules, certain drugs make it to the prohibited list only because they enhance individual performances, pose a potential life threat to the individual consuming it or belittle the spirit of the game. The drug was tested to confirm all the three markers, leading to its immediate ban. Critics have now argued that she used these performance enhancers for all those tournaments she had won in the past. But since the drug was banned only at the start of this year, the titles Sharapova won during her career will not be taken back.
Sharapova, who has been residing in Florida since 1994, is said to have been using meldonium for the past 10 years. Sharapova says she has been taking the drug for 10 years, since the time her doctors diagnosed her with magnesium deficiency. Moreover, her defenders have argued that she has a family history of diabetes. But there are certain questions that the tennis star has failed to answer. How did she get access to the drug, even though it has received no approval from the US Food and Drug Administration? It is imperative to note that she has been residing in Florida since 1994. Moreover, according to manufacturers of the drug, the treatment course for meldonium may “vary from four to six weeks” and it can be “repeated twice or thrice a year”. The question that automatically arises is why did Sharapova consume the drug for a decade?