Morality police should not judge Sharapova: GB Olympian

Thu Apr 7, 2016 9:39am EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Tennis player Maria Sharapova should not be judged by sport's 'morality police' for taking meldonium for 10 years before it was banned, according to British Olympian Susan Egelstaff.

Egelstaff, a badminton player, says the former world number one has been unfairly accused of acting against the spirit of sport.

Sharapova, the biggest name to test positive for meldonium since it was officially banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in January, admitted using the drug, which boosts aerobic performance, for health reasons.

The Russian, who is provisionally banned pending an International Tennis Federation (ITF) investigation, said she had not read an email saying meldonium had been added to WADA's list of banned substances.

"When Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium the backlash was immediate and fierce," Egelstaff told The Mixed Zone website.

"The outcry focused more on the fact she had been taking meldonium, reportedly prescribed by a doctor for a decade without an apparent medical need for the drug, rather than the fact she failed a doping test.

"The morality police were out in force, decrying Sharapova for taking a drug for its performance-enhancing qualities," added Egelstaff, a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in 2006.

"This condemnation amazed and frankly stupefied me. There was a remarkable number of people who believed themselves qualified to judge what is morally acceptable in sport."   Continued...

Mar 7, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Maria Sharapova speaks to the media announcing a failed drug test after the Australian Open during a press conference today at The LA Hotel Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports