The second highest paid female athlete in the world, Maria Sharapova, announced her use of Meldonium, a drug banned 26 days before Sharapova competed in the 2016 Australian Open.
For the past ten years, Sharapova legally took Meldonium to prevent her recurring flu, stop indications of diabetes, and help her low magnesium grow to a healthy rate. Sharapova claimed she was unaware of the prohibition, despite the notification sent to her by email a year before it was activated. Many believe that Sharapova took Meldonium in order to boost her energy and stamina, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport thinks otherwise. Officials from the International Tennis Federation agree with these critics and want Sharapova to be punished.
The International Tennis Federation ruled that Sharapova would be banned from professionally competing in tennis for two years, less time than the typical four year suspension. Even upon receiving such a benevolent punishment, Sharapova appealed to the International Tennis Federation complaining about the unfair resolution. Sharapova stated that because the International Tennis Federation and Women’s Tennis Association did not notify her about the drug ban in the most effective way, she should not be punished. Sharapova’s pleading was effective because she obtained a nine month reduction to her original two year punishment.
The tennis star’s new sentence means that she will be eligible to compete in the May 2017 French Open, and the June 2017 Wimbledon. However, coming back to the tennis world will be a challenge for Sharapova. After a sharp decline in her world rankings, Sharapova has little chance to make an impactful comeback. Many tennis professionals are wary of the way Sharapova handled her punishment. The 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur is infuriated with Sharapova’s appeal.
With all of Sharapova’s struggles involving Meldonium and the International Tennis Federation, some fans wonder if Sharapova is true to herself and, most importantly, true to her game.