Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Tennis

Maria Sharapova drugs test failure: Russian has got several questions to answer

By Robert Jones

Published 09/03/2016

Towering achievement:Maria Sharapova shows off the trophy after her second win at the French Open in Paris
Towering achievement:Maria Sharapova shows off the trophy after her second win at the French Open in Paris
Maria Sharapova is looking to win another Grand Slam
Huge error: Maria Sharapova, who could be banned for two years, announces that she didn't realise Meldonium is prohibited
Maria Sharapova says she accepts that she has failed a drugs test
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves in her third round match against Lauren Davis
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
Short shrift: Maria Sharapova ignored grunting question
Maria Sharapova
Under fire: Maria Sharapova beat Coco Vandeweghe in three sets but was accused of moving during her rival's serve
Tough test: Maria Sharapova celebrates win over Zarina Diyas
Maria Sharapova ruled out a future coaching career
Point taken: Maria Sharapova on her way to victory
Johanna Konta in action against Maria Sharapova during day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 29, 2015. See PA Story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Maria Sharapova in action against Johanna Konta during the First round women's singles during day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 29, 2015. See PA Story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after winning her women's singles first round match against Britain's Johanna Kontaduring on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's Maria Sharapova (L) shakes hands with Britain's Johanna Konta after winning their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Johanna Konta serves to Russia's Maria Sharapova during their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Johanna Konta of Great Britain serves in her Ladiess Singles first round match against Maria Sharapova of Russia during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Maria Sharapova of Russia plays a forehand in her Ladiess Singles first round match against Johanna Konta of Great Britain during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova serves in her Ladies Singles first round match against Johanna Konta (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Russia's Maria Sharapova serves to Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's Maria Sharapova returns to Britain's Johanna Konta during their women's singles first round match on day one of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2015. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE -- AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRKGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
Maria Sharapova in action Johanna Konta during day one of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 29, 2015. See PA Story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves in her Ladies Singles first round match against Johanna Konta of Great Britain during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
On song: Jo Konta is ready to face Maria Sharapova
Making a racket: Maria Sharapova returns a shot in her Wimbledon build-up
Maria Sharapova has reached three consecutive finals at Roland Garros
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova defeated seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard 6-3 6-2 in 78 minutes
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates winning against Caria Suarez Navarro of the Spain during day five of the China Open at the China National Tennis Center on October 1, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
Going home: Reality begins to sink in for Maria Sharapova after the Russian was well beaten by Angelique Kerber
Major run: Maria Sharapova is hoping to add Wimbledon to the French Open title she won last month
HSBC is the main sponsor of Wimbledon, where Maria Sharapova plays her first match today
Maria Sharapova is picked up by racing driver Mark Webber and driven to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) pre-Wimbledon party
Maria Sharapova is picked up by racing driver Mark Webber and driven to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Pre-Wimbledon Party
Maria Sharapova
Open race: Maria Sharapova celebrates winning her women's singles semi-final match against Eugenie Bouchard at the French Open
Sealed with a kiss: Maria Sharapova celebrates her win yesterday
Maria Sharapova of Russia serves during her women's singles match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria on day four of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 28, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a backhand during the final against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day seven of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2014 at Porsche-Arena on April 27, 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates victory in the final against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day seven of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2014 at Porsche-Arena on April 27, 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Has there ever been a tennis player more assured in her dealings with the media than Maria Sharapova?

Some of us have seen feisty New York fashion writers eating out of her hand at a clothes launch in a swish boutique in Manhattan; critics of her readiness to ply children with her "Sugarpova" confectionery brushed aside at a publicity event by the River Yarra in Melbourne; and humble sports reporters around the world put in their place for asking questions she considered inappropriate.

All done, of course, with the smile for which sponsors have been willing to pay millions of dollars in exchange for her endorsement of their products.

Sharapova gave another masterclass in public relations in front of the cameras in a Los Angeles hotel on Monday.

Richard Ings, a former head of both the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the ATP's anti-doping programme, thought Sharapova handled the press conference brilliantly. "That's the play book if you ever face a positive drugs test," he said. "Transparent and sorry."

Although Sharapova has won the opening exchanges, she has many questions to answer. Was this medication, which the anti-doping authorities realised was being used by some athletes to enhance performance and which is not licensed in the United States, the appropriate treatment for the medical problems she claimed?

If so, how often was she taking Meldonium, which the manufacturers say should be used for between four and six weeks, up to three times a year?

One of the keys to Sharapova's fate could be the question as to whether she ever informed drugs testers that she was taking Meldonium. Athletes are required to reveal whatever medication they are taking, whether it is banned or not.

Finally, are we to believe that Sharapova has performed brilliantly at the highest level for 10 years despite heart and diabetes-related problems of which we were never aware?

The Sharapova publicity machine might need to work overtime. Besides, whatever is said in public could be of little consequence once Sharapova's case is heard behind the closed doors of a tribunal hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph