Wimbledon 2018: Maria Sharapova neither respected nor feared by the players.

The second day, at Wimbledon, was marked by the upset of Maria Sharapova, ousted by Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia.

 

Vitalia Diatchenko snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Maria Sharapova lost 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4, after being a set and 5-2 up, to Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia. The pre-2016 Maria would not have lost to a journeywoman after being a set and 5-2 up. Vitalia Diatchenko probably would have given up the fight after losing the first, but this time around she, like many others since Maria’s return from a doping suspension in 2017, fought back and stood her ground to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

 

The players neither respect nor fear Maria Sharapova after her doping revelation.

Vitalia Diatchenko is 27 years old and, for all intents and purposes, a journey-woman. She has won only 8 of 33 total matches played at the pro level, including 2 in slams, so far. It was the, 132 ranking, Russian’s first ever Wimbledon-win. Maria Sharapova, on the other hand, was ranked 1 in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 20012, and is also a five times slam winner. However, Sharapova’s Grand Slam and other credentials have been severely blemished by her doping suspension in 2016, and most players do not respect her for those achievements. As it appears, it will be nigh impossible for Sharapova to prove that her slam and other victories were not a direct result of her regular consumption of Meldonium.

 

Why Sharapova’s slam wins, and other achievements are suspect?

Meldonium was not banned, until 2016, in tennis. Sharapova, like many in the Russian Olympics and sports contingent, was consuming the substance to gain an unfair advantage over the others, and she did it for about ten years.

The facts of the matter, as quoted from The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/08/meldonium-maria-sharapova-failed-drugs-test) are detailed below, and seem to suggest that Meldonium was used as a performance-enhancing drug (PED) by Sharapova:

Meldonium is also known as Mildronate and is manufactured in Latvia and only distributed in Baltic countries and Russia. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States and is not authorized in the rest of Europe. Sharapova, however, had been living in the US while taking this drug regularly since 2006! Meldonium increases blood flow, which improves exercise capacity in athletes. World Anti Doping Authority (Wada) found “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance” by virtue of carrying more oxygen to muscle tissue. The decision to add Meldonium to the banned list was approved on 16 September 2015, and it came into effect on 1 January 2016. Wada had spent the previous year monitoring the drug before adding it to the banned list. The drug was name-checked in the latest investigative documentary on Russian doping reforms by the German Hajo Seppelt. The documentary referred to a 2015 study in which 17% of Russian athletes (724 of 4,316) tested were found to have Meldonium in their system. A global study found 2.2% of athletes had it in their system. L’Equipe reported that the scientific advisor to the French Agency Against Doping (AFLD), Professor Xavier Bigard, said in interviews with athletes at last year’s European Games in Baku that a wide proportion of athletes admitted taking Meldonium.”

 

The entire Sharapova Meldonium episode was suspicious.

Maria Sharapova insisted she consumed Meldonium, for about ten years, to treat a heart condition. Meldonium’s Latvian manufacturers said that the drug is prescribed only for four to six weeks. Even the WADA president questioned Maria’s use of Meldonium as a healthy teenager.

 

Andy Murray on PED

Andy Murray’s take on the use of PEDs.

Andy Murray believes that Meldonium was being used strictly for performance enhancement purposes by athletes and sportspersons. “I think since January 1 there have been 55 athletes who have failed tests for Meldonium. I find it strange that there’s a prescription drug used for heart conditions and so many athletes competing at the top level of their sport would have that condition. That sounds a bit off to me.”

Murray was also unequivocally critical about the use of prescription drugs, whether banned or not, for their performance enhancing benefits. “If you’re taking a prescription drug, and you’re not using it for what that drug was meant for, you don’t need it, you’re just using it for the performance-enhancing benefits of that drug is giving you, then that is wrong, clearly,” he said.

 

The wildcards helped tarnish Sharapova’s reputation and image even further.

The numerous wildcards, to help Maria sprint up the ranking charts, made her one of the most despised by her colleagues in the WTA. The shameless promotion of Sharapova by the WTA’s administration and numerous main-draw wildcards to her by the tournament directors further harmed and tarnished her reputation and image. Had it not been for all those wild-cards, Maria would be playing challengers even now. While the tournament directors run a for-profit business, the WTA’s business, however, is the promotion of tennis, not Sharapova.

Maria Sharapova, perhaps, may never be feared again, she, however, could be respected by her colleagues if she had tendered a sincere apology and paid her dues by playing the challengers and moved up the ranks the right way.