Maria Sharapova Suspended After Failing Drug Test
The richest athlete in the history of women’s sport was suspended last year for failing a drug test putting her lucrative tennis career on the line.
Maria Sharapova recently returned to play after serving a 15-month suspension for using the banned substance meldonium. Meldonium was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) just a few months prior to Sharapova’s positive test. The drug was banned after finding that the drug could potentially increase exercise capacity and tolerance.
How is the sport affected?
Sharapova says this drug (which is used primarily in Eastern Europe) was being taken for over a decade because of a family history of diabetes. She claims she was unaware that meldonium was added to WADA’s banned substance list. Therefore, as her legal team asserted, the fault, if any, lay in her team for not reading the latest updated banned substance list. A court of arbitration listened and reduced her suspension to from 24 to 15 months because it did not find enough evidence that Sharapova was an “intentional doper.”
What to make of all this? Well, you can be sure that people in the future will use the “didn’t know” or “didn’t hear” defense when found taking a banned substance, whether the argument is legitimate or not. To guard against such defenses, governing bodies may need to broadcast any list changes more clearly on multiple channels. They may need to make clearer some common alternative names for a banned substance (within reason, of course, since drugs may have many, many different names).
Know what’s in your body.
At the same time, athletes need to be careful about and keep track of what goes into their bodies. Asking the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to monitor what each player on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour is taking and then give her a gentle warning about anything possibly suspicious or banned is just not realistic. The WTA includes hundreds of players across numerous countries. Following each closely would be logistically challenging.
Your doctor doesn’t even know what you are taking unless you tell him or her. This is especially true for patients taking supplements or other substances offered by alternative health providers that don’t follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. Such items may have ingredients and substances that could affect your health without your realizing it.
You could be end up regretting not fully knowing or understanding what is going into your body.
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