The Russian Tennis player, Maria Sharapova, who recently announced that she failed a doping test at the Australian Open and was provisionally suspended, has blamed media for reporting the baseless allegations.
Responding against such allegations, Maria took to her Facebook and posted a big note. “I have also been aware that some - not all, but some - in the media distort, exaggerate and fail to accurately report the facts about what happened," she posted.
"A report said that I had been warned five times about the upcoming ban on the medicine I was taking. That is not true and it never happened. That's a distortion of the actual 'communications' which were provided or simply posted onto a webpage," she added.
"I make no excuses for not knowing about the ban. I already told you about the December 22, 2015 email I received. Its subject line was 'Main Changes to the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme for 2016'. I should have paid more attention to it," Maria further wrote.
The tennis star said that, Meldonium was added to a banned substance list on the recent January 1 st, which she had “not known”.
“But the other "communications"? They were buried in newsletters, websites, or handouts. On December 18, I received an email with the subject line "Player News" on it. It contained a newsletter on a website that contained tons of information about travel, upcoming tournaments, rankings, statistics, bulletin board notices, happy birthday wishes, and yes, anti-doping information,” she specified in the post.
“On that email, if a player wanted to find the specific facts about medicine added to the anti-doping list, it was necessary to open the "Player News" email, read through about a dozen unrelated links, find the "Player Zone" link, enter a password, enter a username, read a home screen with more than three dozen different links covering multiple topics, find the "2016 Changes to Tennis Anti-Doping Program and Information" link, click on it and then read a page with approximately three dozen more links covering multiple anti-doping matters,” Maria explained.
"Then you had to click the correct link, open it up, scroll down to page two and that's where you would find a different name for the medication I was taking. In other words, in order to be aware of this "warning", you had to open an email with a subject line having nothing to do with anti-doping, click on a webpage, enter a password, enter a username, hunt, click, hunt, click, hunt, click, scroll and read. I guess some in the media can call that a warning. I think most people would call it too hard to find," the tennis star said.
Maria Sharapova will be provisionally banned from today (March 12th), the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said. As per the rule, the first time offenders would be banned for two years.
On January 26th, the failed drug test came, after Sharapova lost to Serena Williams in the quarter finals and on March 2nd, she was charged with an anti doping violation.
“There was also a "wallet card" distributed at various tournaments at the beginning of 2016, after the ban went into effect. This document had thousands of words on it, many of them technical, in small print. Should I have studied it? Yes. But if you saw this document (attached), you would know what I mean. Again, no excuses, but it's wrong to say I was warned five times,” she said.
"I'm proud of how I have played the game. I have been honest and upfront. I won't pretend to be injured so I can hide the truth about my testing. I look forward to the ITF hearing at which time they will receive my detailed medical records. I hope I will be allowed to play again," Maria posted.
The failed drug test could cause Sharapova, a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics and the $298,000, she won in January at the Australian Open.
By Phani Ch