Maria Sharapova still dodging questions about meldonium after tennis return from drugs ban

Posted by John Doe 19/09/2017 0 Comment(s)

She's back on the global tennis circuit and looking to move on, but Maria Sharapova has refused to say how she has replaced banned substance meldonium in her personal supplements regime and what she uses now.

Sharapova, 30 years old now , was suspended from competitive tennis for 15 months after testing positive for the controversial medication during the 2016 Australian Open.

Now back on the court after serving her ban, Sharapova is keen to move on heading into the latter stages of her tennis career.

In an interview with American journalist Katie Couric, Sharapova spent some time talking about drug use, but on the topic of replacing meldonium Mildronate , the former world number one proved evasive.

Couric: ... at one point you said you would look for a substitute, a replacement that wasn't on the banned list. Did you find a replacement?
Sharapova: I constantly have to get check-ups, I constantly have to go to the doctor. I get regular EKGs a lot more than other people would. Blood work and all of that and I take very — you know, as you can imagine, I'm very detail-orientated after this happened.
Couric: Did you find a replacement?
Sharapova: It's something that I don't want to talk about. It's just not something I think when we speak about doctors, that will open up more conversations and more questions and I think from the very beginning, I think it's important to speak about what has happened openly and honestly and move on from it.

So Sharapova wants to be open and honest about the issue, but also to move on from it, all while skirting the question.

Given the issue hammered both the Russian star's reputation and hip pocket — with major sponsors like Porsche, Nike and TAG Heuer all distancing themselves when the scandal broke out — the lack of clarity makes no sense.

She has previously hit back at reports she was warned about meldonium five times before her positive test, saying communications were "buried in newsletters, websites, or handouts".

Sharapova only recently made her competitive return to the court, qualifying for the US Open after receiving a wildcard entry from the US Tennis Association (USTA).

Some, like former champion Billie Jean King, were happy to see Sharapova return to the US Open, saying now that her suspension was over, it was great for the sport to have her back in tennis.

Others will no doubt feel differently to King. But for supporters and detractors alike, Sharapova's reluctance to deal with the question in a forthright manner simply doesn't help.

Andy Murray has been one high-profile critic of Sharapova's return to the circuit, saying in March: "If you're taking a prescription drug and you're not using it for what that drug was meant for, then you don't need it, so you're just using it for the performance enhancing benefits that drug is giving you."

Sharapova has been decisive before in responding to that sort of criticism.

"I don't think it's for them to really have an opinion, because they don't have the facts," she told the BBC in a separate interview.

"I think that those are the types of words that make headlines and they will be used as headlines.

"But ultimately, this is my career, and I faced it head on, and I admitted my mistake, and I went about it and I served my suspension and now I'm back."

Serena Williams 'owned' me

Speaking to CNN while promoting her new biography, Sharapova has described her rivalry with Serena Williams, which has seen the American dominate the Russian since a shock loss in the 2004 Wimbledon final.

Back then, aged just 17, Sharapova stunned Williams and the tennis world to take out the Wimbledon title aged just 17 years old.

Sharapova describes in her book the way she heard Williams sobbing in the locker room after the final, saying Williams never forgave her for intruding in that painful moment.

"Obviously it was a disappointing loss to her because she was expected to win," Sharapova told CNN.

"I'm sure she expected to win that match, another Wimbledon final.

"So I think that disappointment really, it stirred something up. She didn't want to lose to me again.

"I say she's owned me. Which she has."

Sharapova has lost 18 consecutive matches since 2004 to Williams.

"Look, I think Serena, in that particular match, had everything to lose compared to myself," she said.

"I mean, I was the underdog. If I lost that match, I would be the happiest kid on the planet.

"Wimbledon finalist? Who would have thought? No one expected that from me. She's a two-time defending champion, there's a lot more on the line and I think I sensed that.

"That didn't scare me, it only wanted me to win more."