The highest-earning female athlete in the world, Maria Sharapova, has just admitted to using meldonium, a drug that has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). In a press release on Monday morning, Sharapova confessed that she has been taking Mildronate, (a medicine that promotes blood-oxygen flow and is a preventative for diabetes) since 2006. Sharapova explained that she is at-risk for diabetes and, while taking full responsibility for testing positive for the drug at the Australian Open last month, she was not taking Mildronate for athletic enhancement purposes.
WADA released a memo on 1 January that included the updated list of banned substances. Critics of Sharapova report that she should have been aware of what she was taking, the possible effects on her performance, and that as an athlete with a full medical team, it is ludicrous that the drug was missed.
On the flip side, Serena Williams (who beat out Sharapova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year), has praised Sharapova for her courage in admitting to the positive test in such a timely matter.
And all of this is shocking, terrible, and overall just the straw on the camel’s back for Sharapova’s career. After several injuries last year and now the performance enhancing scandal, she has been dropped as a sponsor by Nike and will likely face more financial setbacks.
Thanks to the rapid-fire pace of social media, critics, fans, doctors, and sponsors are all throwing their two cents in the Twitter and Facebook ring. But what’s even more interesting is the diversity of opinion and almost requirement of Sharapova’s fellow athletes to either stand with her or publicly condemn her. No (wo)man is an island anymore. Gone are the days of “all press being good press” for whoever the story concerns. Now, it’s almost an obligation for athletes to not only play their games, but to take strong stances on the politics of their industry.
Very disappointed waking up to hear the news about @MariaSharapova …
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) March 8, 2016
Doesn't look that innocent for Sharapova or whoever else took it, this Meldonium stuff but who knows? https://t.co/IBqop5ggHZ
— Matt Ebden (@mattebden) March 7, 2016
“If I was going 2 announce my retirement, it wouldn’t b in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with a fairly ugly carpet." Sharapova. Standards ?
— judy murray (@judmoo) March 7, 2016
Maria handled that so well. In my opinion, honest mistake from a great champion.
— Ryan Harrison (@ryanharrison92) March 7, 2016