WADA's amnesty for Maria Sharapova?
London: Former World No 1 tennis ace Maria Sharapova could benefit from the WADA's (World Anti Doping Agency's) latest inclination to offer amnesty to a section of players, who may have consumed banned drug meldonium.
The amnesty suggestion came about after recent research suggested that traces of meldonium tend to remain in the body for a period much longer than what was perceived by the authorities earlier.
Sharapova is the most high profile athlete, most of whom are Russians, to have been entangled in the dope net over their use of meldonium which was added to WADA's list of banned substances since January 1 this year. WADA yesterday said there have been as many as 172 meldonium doping cases since the substance was banned on January 1.
The latest research finding shows WADA in poor light especially for those tests conducted on athletes in the early past of this year. Sharapova failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January (test was taken on Jan 25), so she also falls in this category and could thus benefit with a milder or better still, no punishment at all.
WADA has also said that the concentration of meldonium below 1 microgram in a dope test carried out before March 1 is permissible.
Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev welcomed WADA's latest move. "We really hope that Sharapova will be allowed to take part in the Olympic Games," Tarpishchev said.
Sharapova's attorney John Haggerty criticised WADA for handling the issue poorly.
"Given the fact that scores of athletes have tested positive for taking what previously was a legal product, it's clear that WADA did not handle this issue properly last year and are trying to make up for it now," Haggerty said in a statement.