Story by Charlie Crowley, Sports Editor
There’s been a lot of talk in the news so far this year about small rumblings in the professional tennis world. In January it was revealed that there had been possible match fixing over the last few years for players to make a little extra cash. World number one Novak Djokovic even admits to being offered $200,000 to throw a match, though he found it in his best interest not to. After a brief lull in anything too out of the ordinary, Russian star Maria Sharapova, currently 11th in the WTA, was suspended by the International Tennis Federation for failing a drug test at this year’s Australian Open.
On March 7th, Sharapova publicly announced the failed test, which she attributed to her taking meldonium, which is used to treat chest pain from a restriction of blood supply to the heart. Sharapova, who stated she has used the drug for ten years, claimed she was not aware that the drug was added to the banned substance list by the World Anti-Doping Agency at the start of the calendar year. She also noted that she was taking the drug to deal with diabetes and low magnesium levels. The Globe and Mail reported Friday that Sharapova was caught due to the largest drug sweep in tennis history with all singles players at the Australian Open being tested, with 450 tests carried out.
As much flak as this brings to Sharapova as a player, the biggest question now is how it will affect her image. As a Russian citizen who resides in the United States, she is one of the most marketable female athletes in the world. Nike and Tag Heuer suspended their sponsorships with her rather than dropping her, while HEAD, who she uses for rackets, has stood by her during the incident. This obviously isn’t the first case of an athlete losing big endorsement deals (SEE: Tiger Woods), but this does seem to be the first case of a major female athlete losing them. With the French Open coming up in late May, it will be interesting to see if Sharapova, who won it in 2012 and 2014 along with a runner up finish in 2013, will have her suspension lifted in time. For now, Sharapova and the tennis world will be keeping a close eye on the decisions that the WTA will be making for her.
About the writer…
Charlie Crowley is a junior studying communication and journalism.He is The Saint‘s Sports Editor. He spends most of his time playing hockey, sleeping, eating, and on Reddit. He’s also a Hoosier, and proud of it, but can’t hit the open three to save his life.