Paying Attention: The richest female athlete in the world, Maria Sharapova, admitted this week that she had taken a “banned substance” –meldonium–and was more than likely going to receive a suspension from professional tennis. Sharapova is an Olympic medalist and one of the few players to have won all four of the grand slam events in tennis: the Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open, and U.S.Open. The drug Maria was taking was one that she had been taking since 2006 and it was just placed on the “prohibited list” by the World Anti-Doping Agency on 1 January 2016. Maria said she got an email that detailed the latest banned substances but didn’t open it/read it.
The penalty for using a banned substance is very severe. It can range from a year (or less) to four years, five years, or even 10 years. For an athlete of Sharapova’s age (29) and sport (tennis), a ban of more than a year mean an effective end to her playing career. In other words: she could be through with tennis because of her intake of meldonium. Not good for her and very bad for women’s tennis, as Sharapova is one of its’ very biggest stars. She’s already sustained suspension of endorsement contracts from some of her biggest sponsors: Nike, Porsche, TAG Heuer. Bad for everyone.
So, precisely what is on the prohibited list? You don’t have wait for a ban on your own amateur or professional career to find out; Here’s a link to the “2016 Prohibited Substances” list. You will be surprised at all the substances and drugs you cannot take if you are an international athlete. Don’t take chances. Do like I did: sign up for updates to the list and read the list. You can’t be too careful when you’re a world class athlete (or even a neighborhood class one).
A ClickPak on Maria Sharapova and the World Anti-Doping Agency. Serious stuff. Serious consequences.
Sharapova not the only athlete taking Meldonium (Source: NewYorkTimes.com)
What is Meldonium and What Does It Do? (Source: NewYorkTimes.com)
The Sponsors Bail: The economic effects of taking a banned substance (Source: NewYorkTimes.Com)
Sharapova Can’t Avoid a Lengthy Ban (Source: USA Today)