Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
8th March, 2016
On March 23rd, the first hearing on the case of Maria Sharapova will be held in London. The Russian tennis player admitted to using Meldonium, which was included on the WADA list of prohibited substances from January 1st 2016. The International Tennis Federation suspended Sharapova from participation in competitions from 12th of March. If it is proved that the athlete was taking Meldonium, she faces disqualification for up to 4 years. Sports physiologist Boris Zherlygin told RT that although Sharapova should be more careful with the pharmacological program, considering the consumption of Mildronate as doping is ridiculous.
“For the last ten years I took a drug called “Mildronate”, which was given to me by the family doctor. A few days after the letter, I learned that the drug may have another name — “Meldonium” — which I didn’t know about. For ten years it was not included in the prohibited list, and I took it legally, but from 1st January the rules changed, and it became a prohibited drug”, — quotes RIA Novosti from the statement by Sharapova.
Honored sports physiologist and physician Boris Zherlygin believes that, despite the negligence of Sharapova, considering taking Mildronate, available over-the-counter at any pharmacy, as doping is just ridiculous. “Analogs of this drug have been used in sport for over 30 years <…> They are sold in pharmacies without prescription. The impact of this drug is not comparable to what, say, bodybuilders take,” said Zherlygin to RT.
“If she is disqualified for this, it will be just ridiculous. It will be a great injustice. Moreover, she has acknowledged this,” — said the doctor. Boris Zherlygin also reminded the public that the medication “Mildronate” is a remedy drug, therefore, to prohibit athletes from intaking it in high endurance sports is just silly.
“The system of doping control is morally wrong. People are not allowed to take something that can benefit their health. This drug is taken with a purpose, it aids health. Even if you use any hormone in small doses, they also help one’s health. They can repair the user. In tennis and other energy-consuming sports, the athlete expends an enormous amount of energy,” Zherlygin said to RT.
The former top-ranked American tennis player Jennifer Capriati has already urged the bodies to deprive the Russian sportswoman Maria Sharapova of all her previously won titles. Boris Zherlygin believes that it should not be possible to punish athletes who take care of their health by laying down rules on banned drugs a few months before the event. “It’s just unfair play”, — concluded the expert.
The drug Meldonium has also been detected in the blood of the Russian Olympic champion short track speed skater Semion Elistratov, skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, and volleyball player Alexsanda Markina.
Brands against Sharapova
Immediately after Sharapova’s announcement a number of sponsors suspended their cooperation with the champion. Nike were the first to suspend her contract. “We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova. We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria during the investigation. We will continue to monitor the situation,” — quotes the TV channel CNBC from Nike’s statement.
Following in the footsteps of the sports manufacturer, Swiss watch company TAG Heuer announced the non-renewal of the advertising contract with the Russian athlete. The watchmaker was joined by the Porsche automotive company, who announced the cancellation of all events featuring the participation of Sharapova.