no forty-love lost

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I realise an early morning rant probably isn’t the best way to start your day but has there ever been a less likeable blonde hottie than Maria Sharapova? Following her recent dismissive remarks regarding her fellow players who dared consider her to be any less white than the knickers she so fabulously flaunts, I read an interview with her and have to say she’s probably the most deluded, ugly sportsperson I’ve ever come across. Why, she even makes the bully of the peloton and king of all dopers, Lance Armstrong, appear a thoroughly well-balanced, easy-going chap who you’d love to have a cold-one with. As it transpires, the only cold-one Maria would give you would be a cold-shoulder.

How exactly did she feel when she received notification that she’d failed the test for the banned substance, meldonium? “For the first hour I thought it was a mistake. And then I said, how did my team not know? How did no-one notify me?” In fact, she had been notified in an earlier email but neither she, nor her ‘buck passed’ team had bothered to read it. Her clear lack of regard for World Anti-Doping Agency rules can be seen by her dismissal of Russian Doctor Anatoly Skalny, in favour of her agent, Max Eisenbud, a man who made her the multi-multi-millionaire she is today, but who has no medical experience whatsoever.

Following a review, the court of arbitration astonishingly ruled Sharapova had not taken the drug to boost her personal performance. Why then would an athlete take meldonium, a drug that was not licensed in the US, for a period in excess of ten years, instead of the recommended usage of up to a maximum of six weeks? Claiming this was taken as a counter to an irregular heartbeat and a long family history of diabetes, Meldonium is only distributed in Russia and Baltic countries and, in a 2012 report, 17% of all Russian athletes were found to be using it extensively. That’s a lot of irregular heartbeats in any elite group of individuals but I bet she was relieved it wasn’t anything to do with the report’s other conclusion that the drug “is recommended for use as a pharmacological remedy that increases the physical work capabilities of athletes.” Phew.

Since her ban, the one woman marketing machine has lost only one major endorsement (Porsche) and still managed to rake in over $20m last year despite not playing a single match. In a world that’s still numb from Justin Gatlin’s tainted victory over Usain Bolt why do we tolerate such blatant disregard for the rules and for honest endeavour? How long before the same is repeated on clay or, God forbid, grass? I, for one, would not miss her infamous on-court grunt or death-stare and will not watch another match she participates in. The final words should go to Canadian player, Eugenie Bouchard, “She’s a cheater, and I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport ever again.”