Last week, it was announced that tennis star Maria Sharapova has received a two year ban from the International Tennis Federation after testing positive, and admitting to, taking a banned substance.
Sharapova continually claims her innocence, saying she did not intentionally use the banned substance, nor did she know it was put on the Prohibited List.
The banned substance, melodonium, has been on the list since January 1 2016.
Sharapova tested positive at the Australia Open on January 26 and at an out of competition test in Moscow in February.
Sharapova’s argument, according to the court documents, she has been using the drug that contains meodonium for ten years, and the ITF should have made the ban more publicized.
She had no idea that this drug was on the Prohibition List, therefore she believes the ban should be dropped.
Throughout the legal documents, the ITF seems to have investigated this situation very carefully, giving many good reasons for implementing Sharapova’s two year ban.
But, hold on to your seats friends because this story doesn’t end here.
Sharapova plans to appeal the decision.
Nike, Head and Evian sponsors are standing by the Russian tennis player.
Nike lifted the original suspension they imposed on her contract when the news of her failed drug test first emerged in the media in March.
At the time of the failed test, the company said it was putting its eight year deal ($70 million) on hold. But, on Wednesday that changed. Nike said it had decided to continue working with Sharapova.
“The ITF Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules. Maria has always made her position clear, has apologised for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban,” read Nike’s statement. “Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her.”
Head never pulled its ties with Sharapova. Stating she is a “role model.”
And Evian put out a statement on Thursday as well saying,
“The ITF tribunal concluded that Maria Sharapova’s contravention was not intentional. Following this announcement, Evian has decided to maintain its long-lasting relationship with the champion.”
Other sponsors are being less supporting of Sharapova.
One being the luxury car brand Porsche, the other watchmaker Tag Heurer.
Porsche suspended ties with Sharapova following the failed test, and is will wait for the final verdict in her appeal to the Court of Arbitration to Sport.
Porsche released a statement about the decision,
“We have taken note of the recent International Tennis Federation ruling in the case of Maria Sharapova and are especially aware that it was decided that she was not accused of intentionally violating the World Anti-Doping Code.”
“As Maria will appeal the decision, we will continue to keep all activities with her on hold until the final judgement has been reached.”
In March, Tag Heuer decided not to renew Sharapova’s contract, but will not rule out working with her sometime in the future.
Another sponsor pulling Sharapova?
Cosmetic brand Avon dropped the tennis star, but insists it was not due to the doping ban.
“Avon’s relationship with Maria Sharapova was a limited engagement that focused on one of our fragrances. The engagement is set to expire and we had not planned to extend this relationship regardless of the current situation.”
What do I think?
Maria Sharapova is a one of the greats in tennis.
She is consistently showed us how professional she was on the tennis court and how serious she took her career.
So you are going to tell me that her team of assistants, publicists, coaches, doctors, etc didn’t tell her that the drug she had been taking for 10 years was being placed on the Prohibition List?
You are going to try and convince me that no one was aware of this addition to this list, not her doctors, not her coaches or even herself?
This is her career, her life.
This is what she knows, so don’t tell me that she didn’t know this drug wasn’t on the list.
For some reason, this scandal reminds me of those kids in elementary school who would bring non-peanut-free snacks for lunch. We were consistently told what we could and could not bring for lunch and this was always one thing that people never listened to because they thought they wouldn’t get caught. But, in the end, there will always be someone around to catch you in the act while you pleaded, ‘I didn’t know though!”
What do you think? Is 2 years fair for Sharapova? She will unlikely return to tennis if the decision is followed through due to her age and her popularity already declining.