Maria Sharapova, once one of the biggest names in female tennis, has recently been surrounded by controversy following a recent doping scandal. She’s received pressure from across the sport to face the music for her decision to cheat. World number two Andy Murray has now weighed in on the debate, saying that Sharapova should face suspension for her actions and applauding doping officials for catching such a high-profile tennis star.
Murray expressed concern that if Sharapova was able to get away with such doping, it would send a strong message that the sport accepts cheating. British tennis star Andy Murray made those comments about the Maria Sharapova scandal at the current Indian Wells tournament in California. However, he’s not the first big name in tennis or sports as a whole to condemn Sharapova, who was once a widely loved Russian tennis superstar.
“The positive thing about what has happened to Maria is she is one of the biggest female athletes on the planet. If you take performance-enhancing drugs and you fail a drug test then you should be suspended.”
— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) March 11, 2016
Andy Murray’s comments came following the news that Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which was only added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list this year. However, Murray didn’t stop there with his criticism, complaining about the reaction of the tennis federation and his own racquet sponsor that also sponsors Sharapova. If the brand doesn’t drop Sharapova, there’s a good chance that Murray will drop from the brand.
Murray is well known for taking the issue of doping in sport seriously, saying that he’s already seen 55 athletes this year that have tested positive for the drug. He pointed out that they can’t all need access to the drug for medical conditions. At the same time, the tennis star called for more frequent testing, especially for those like Maria Sharapova who already have a history of abusing such substances.
That being said, we’d imagine that Andy Murray’s comments are the last thing Maria Sharapova is concerned about right now. The tennis star is well known for being a five-time grand slam winner. However, she tested positive earlier this year for a substance that was recently added to the official banned list. It’s pretty clear that Andy Murray thinks this should mean an instant suspension for the star. However, hers and Murray’s racquet sponsor, Head, have stood by Sharapova, saying it plans to continue her sponsorship.
Sharapova isn’t on her own, as a number of athletes both inside and out of tennis have also tested positive for meldonium. However, many of those athletes have not faced suspension or had their case made public because they’re waiting to be adjudicated. This is also something Andy Murray feels clearly needs changing. He doesn’t deem it right that the tennis players are able to continue when they could be found to be cheating.
Speaking about his own experience of drug testing, Murray pointed out that he’s been drug tested just twice in the space of three months this year. He said that’s clearly not enough, and it’s still incredibly easy for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs. He also expressed dismay that Sharapova was allowed to make the announcement about the scandal herself, a poor decision on the part of the International Tennis Federation.
No matter how the doping scandal now unfolds for Maria Sharapova, her tennis career has undeniably been left in tatters. Only time will tell whether she’ll face a full suspension from the sport and lose essential sponsors in the process.
[Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]