“As a clean athlete, it’s very frustrating for me to get on the line and know this might not be a fair race” US sprinter Allyson Felix
It’s time to put an end to the seemingly endless use of drugs in sport, and no one feels stronger about this than the athletes themselves, or at least those who compete clean.
It’s no coincidence that much of the trouble seems to be coming from certain countries, such as Russia, where playing by the rules in sport has always been seen as optional.
The latest example is tennis star Maria Sharapova, who faces up to a 4 year ban for use of a drug that was recently added to the banned list, Meldonium. Sharapova said she had been using the drug for 10 years because “she was getting sick often, had low magnesium, irregular EKGs, and a family history of diabetes”. Amazing she could even get out of bed, much less win a string of tennis championships.
As Andy Murray, ranked number 2 in the world said: “You just don’t expect high level athletes at the top of many sports to have heart conditions. If you’re taking a prescription drug for what you don’t actually need for what it’s giving you, that’s wrong”
Sharapova also said she was unaware the drug had been banned, because the notice was lost in an email. Which sounds reasonable enough, until you realize that superstar athletes have a host of advisors on everything from endorsements, to nutrition, to clothing. Stars like Sharapova seem to have time for everything except reading email that pertains to banned substances.
Cynics might site the fact that other Russian athletes have also been taking this drug, including ice dancers, cyclists, and track and field competitors. So either Russian athletes are beset by terrible, society wide genetics, or they have actually been using this drug as a performance enhancer.
Novak Djokovic, the top ranked men’s player and a friend of Sharapova: “The player that has made this kind of mistake has to suffer certain kinds of consequences.”
Lindsay Davenport, the retired American women’s star on Sharapova: “She played a Grand Slam event with a performance enhancing drug – there’s not too many ways you can talk your way out of that.”
Her peers, the ones that have been on the pro circuit a long time, have the best idea if someone is dirty or just made a minor error, and all the pros comments seems to vote for “dirty” in Sharapova’s case.