There are so many questions. I never thought she was going to announce her retirement today but I'd be lying if I said doping even crossed my mind.
Let's look at the drug itself.
Here's a description by Herman Ram of the Netherlands, the head of that country's anti doping authority.
While doctors in the USA and the EU cannot prescribe the drug –meldoinum is not registered as a medicine- it’s often used in Eastern Europe by people with heart failure or people who suffer from chestpains whilst doing exercise. (…)
The Latvian pharmaceutics Grindeks in Riga praises the use also for healthy people. “Enhances the stamina and brain function of heartpatients and healthy people”
And this from the National Institute of Health
To date, substances such as Mildronate (Meldonium) are not on the radar of anti-doping laboratories as the compound is not explicitly classified as prohibited. However, the anti-ischemic drug Mildronate demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system (CNS) functions. In the present study, the existing evidence of Mildronate's usage in sport, which is arguably not (exclusively) based on medicinal reasons, is corroborated by unequivocal analytical data allowing the estimation of the prevalence and extent of misuse in professional sports. Such data are vital to support decision-making processes, particularly regarding the ban on drugs in sport.
It should be noted that during her press conference Ms Sharapova never said she had any of the health issues that would make this drug something she would need (a heart condition, diabetes) but she said that family members had the issues.
So what do we know?
We know that she's been taking this drug for ten years.
Russian sources are saying that warnings went out to it's athletes around October 2015 to stop using meldonium.
Sharapova admits she got an email but says she didn't open it.
Eastern Euopean athletes use the substance regularly.
Sharapova's attorney is attempting to negotiate the length of the ban which can be either 2 years or 4 years depending on intent.
To my knowledege they haven't taken away her Australian Open points
A few weeks ago I wrote about the use of hyperbaric chambers and how they might be banned at some future date. I think the future date for Maria Sharapova has come. If she is allowed to negotiate how long her ban will be then everyone after her should be afforded the same right.
The implications of a top athlete doping, in retrospect, for ten years, gives one pause and has to be cause for concern for tennis officials.
As for fans like us it's too soon to draw conclusions or throw out wild accusations. The only time Sharapova showed emotion was when she said she doesn't want to end her career like this. For now all of the questions on the tip of our tongues should be put on hold. We'll all have to wait and see.
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