Maria Sharapova was suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday for violating an antidoping rule, three months after the 29-year-old Russian announced that she had tested positive for meldonium, a banned substance. Her initial March announcement came in the form of a notably lighthearted press conference in Los Angeles, where she said the issue was due to a misunderstanding and insisted that the looming suspension would not force her into retirement. If she were going to retire, she said at the time, she would not do so on “fairly ugly carpet.”
The ITF’s final ruling is out, but Sharapova wasn’t about to let the federation have the last word. Earlier today, she released her own statement on Facebook. Let’s break it down, shall we?
It is a pretty masterful move to open an announcement of your own multiyear suspension by implying not only that you didn’t do anything wrong, but that no one else (especially the ITF) thinks you did, either. In March, Sharapova blamed her meldonium use on failing to check her email: the World Anti-Doping Agency added it to its list of forbidden substances the month that she tested positive. Her agent, meanwhile, said the addition snuck right by him; his failure to inform Sharapova, he claims, was a result of his divorce and a canceled Caribbean vacation.
Sharapova has never denied taking meldonium, a heart medication, informing the ITF that she took a pill before each of her five Australian Open matches in January and had taken the drug for a decade. The Latvian company that manufactures meldonium, however, said it is intended only for courses of four to six weeks. It was added to the WADA list after a year of study; the agency found that it improves blood flow and speeds recovery. In the 1980s, meldonium was used by Soviet troops in Afghanistan to boost their stamina.
Crystal-clear logic, guys. See, I could have had a really severe punishment. My very severe punishment is not quite as severe as it could have been! Ergo, I should have no punishment at all.
An appeal is coming! The two-year sentence might not stand!
But if her appeal is unsuccessful, Sharapova’s chances of reascending to the heights of women’s tennis look fairly bleak. The five-time Grand Slam champion will be nearing 31 by the end of her suspension, and she has been dogged by injuries in recent years. On the other hand, Serena Williams is 34, so anything is theoretically possible.
I had a conversation recently about how much stamps cost. I genuinely don’t know! Like, OK, they were … 30-something cents when I was a kid? What are they now? Fifty cents? Seventy-five cents? Three dollars? I have no idea. Maria Sharapova’s fans definitely know how much stamps cost. They are nicer, smarter people than us — probably with much better penmanship as well.
Sharapova last played in January at the Australian Open, where she lost to Williams in the quarterfinals. Among the results of her suspension, via the Huffington Post’s Travis Waldron: That match — her 19th loss to Williams in 21 matches — will be disqualified and struck from her record.
Such transparency. Such honesty. Such a clever way to mobilize fans to send letters to her enemies. The address to the chairman of the Independent Tribunal is only a quick Google away, guys.