IS SERENA’S COACH SERIOUS? Surely he doesn’t want her drug record dragged up again?

I can't believe Mouratoglou would enter this debate, is he ignorant of recent history?

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - GOLD COAST, Australia - Aug 09, 2017 - IS SERENA’S COACH SERIOUS?

Mouratoglou: Sharapova doesn’t deserve a wildcard.

” I think there should be a rule in both ATP and WTA, which forbids the organizers,” he said. “To grant invitations to players who have doped. ” Aug 2 2017 Bein Sports

I CAN’T BELIEVE HE WOULD ENTER THIS DEBATE

I’m surprised that Mouratoglou is wading into the debate on Sharapova’s attempted comeback following her drug ban by the ITF.

I also find it unlikely that he is unaware of Serena’s relationship with steroid and opioid based medications and the obvious claims of hypocrisy that he invites.

THE RUSSIAN HACKERS

As we all know following Sharapova’s ban a Russian hacking group calling themselves the Tsar Team or Fancy Bear hacked WADA and other anti doping agencies.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed the breach of their security and condemned the attack.

Part of what they revealed was that a huge number of very high profile athletes were using banned substances with the explicit permission of the anti-doping agencies themselves.

The Russian group called it permission to dope.

WADA calls it Therapeutic Use Exemptions.

WHATEVER YOU CALL IT, IT DIDN’T LOOK GOOD

Whatever you call it and regardless of how it was justified by WADA it didn’t look good.

If it was not for the hacks and subsequent leaks then none of this would have come to light.

WHAT DID SERENA TAKE?

According to the leaked reports in November 2010 Serena received permission to take methylprednisolene. This is a steroid that helps control inflammation.

Between 2010 and June 2015 Serena was given permission to use other steroid based medications including perdnisolone.

She had also been given permission to use the banned opioid pain medication oxycodone and hydromorphone (classed as a narcotic) from as far back as October 2010.

Interestingly Venus was on many of the same medications.

A BUNCH OF INVALIDS

One Russian official Perviy Kanal described the U.S. athletes as “invalids” on a pro-Kremlin TV channel. “I have the impression that we are dealing with invalids, because they are prescribed incredible combinations of potent drugs. Three of them are narcotics, for the distribution of which one can receive a long prison sentence both in Russia and in Europe” he said.

I am not suggesting that the Russian’s are by any measure clean in this area.

Quite the contrary. The entire team was banned from the 2016 Rio Paralympics for systemic doping.

I am suggesting that there appears to be different standards depending on which organisation (and which country) you are a member of.

HOW DOES THAT COMPARE WITH SHARAPOVA’S DRUG?

Sharapova tested positive for a drug called Meldonium.

Remember it was only banned 1 January 2016 and she tested positive in January 2016 at the Australian Open. She had been taking it for 10 years prior.

According to Dr Tom Bassindale, a lecturer in forensic science at Sheffield Hallam University, it was developed in Latvia and approved in the early 2000s to treat diabetes and various heart-related diseases.

According to the drug’s designer, Ivar Kalvins – chair of the scientific board of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis – it was created to increase the body’s oxygen-carrying capacity.

The bottom line is that it can increase an athlete’s endurance.

SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The facts point to a double standard in the Sharapova case.

It is surely reasonable for WADA to confront the following questions.

Is it plausible that so many elite athletes can be so sickly?

Is it surprising that so many of the medications were steroids?

Don’t steroids help aid recovery and allow athletes to train harder and more often?

Isnt that what the banned list is there to prohibit?

Wouldn’t it be simpler to just enforce the banned list and not grant any exemptions?

Wouldn’t that remove any perceived notions of bias towards certain athletes?

Is the entire system a façade?

IN A NUTSHELL

Serena (and Venus and many others) took banned substances for years with the express permission of WADA to do so.

Sharapova took a legal substance for many years.

Sharapova and her team certainly appear negligent in not following the new protocols.

However given the circumstances there is a strong argument that she was harshly treated.

At the very least there appears to have been one standard applied for Serena and another for Maria.

It is against this background that I question Mouratoglou’s comments.

At best they appear disingenuous and ignorant of recent history.

At worst his comments are vindictive and hypocritical.

In either case they are ill-considered and bad for our sport.

THE WASH UP

The bottom line is that regardless of which side of the Sharapova ban debate you come down on she has done her time.

If individual tournaments believe that Sharapova will sell more tickets, then surely they have the right to grant her wild card entry.

How can more people paying to see women’s tennis possibly be a bad thing?

I think the WTA chief Steven Simon said it best in response to Sharapova not receiving a wild card into this year’s French Open.

Organisers had “no grounds to penalise” Maria Sharapova by denying her wildcard entry to the tournament, says the Women’s Tennis Association.

“There are no grounds to penalise any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters.”

“Hear, hear”.

Surely it’s time to let her get on with it.

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