October 28, 2016

ITF Statement Regarding the Case of Maria Sharapova




6 October 2016


ITF statement regarding the case of Maria Sharapova


The ITF, as the administrator of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on behalf of all of tennis’s governing bodies, wishes to respond to statements made in relation to the anti-doping rule violation committed by Maria Sharapova.


The ITF did not try to ban Ms. Sharapova for four years, as has been suggested. The ITF stated clearly that it was the responsibility of the Independent Tribunal – and subsequently the CAS Panel – to determine what the appropriate sanction should be. This included the decision as to whether Ms. Sharapova met the requirements set out in the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme – which are the same as those in the WADA Code – for a reduction from the default four-year suspension for the use of a non-specified substance such as meldonium. The CAS Panel confirmed Ms. Sharapova’s violation of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and a 15-month suspension.


The ITF provides a high-quality ‘first instance’ hearing system that is not only independent of the ITF, but also gives both parties full opportunity to present all of their evidence. The members of the Tribunal, which consisted of a barrister as Chairman and medical and scientific experts as co-members, issued a reasoned decision based on that evidence. Ms. Sharapova has stated that the Independent Tribunal was ‘not neutral’. Ms. Sharapova’s legal team was given the opportunity to object to the appointment of any member of that Tribunal in advance of the hearing, and they agreed in writing that they had no such objection.


It has also been suggested that the ITF should have given specific notice to Eastern European athletes relating to the change in status of meldonium, because it was in common use by those athletes, and that this was known by the ITF prior to 2016. This is not true. In fact, it was accepted by Ms. Sharapova in the hearing before CAS that the ITF did not know before 2016 about the extent to which meldonium was used by athletes from any region, or that Ms. Sharapova herself was using meldonium.


In addition to Ms. Sharapova’s failure to declare her use of meldonium on any of her doping control forms, the WADA monitoring program is conducted anonymously, so even WADA itself does not know the names of athletes using the substances being monitored. Furthermore, WADA does not inform any anti-doping organisation about the prevalence of such use until it publishes the results of the monitoring program, which for the 2015 monitoring program was in May 2016.


The ITF believes that the appropriate steps were taken to publicise the changes to the 2016 Prohibited List. Nonetheless, the ITF has reviewed, and will continue to review, its processes for communicating changes to the Prohibited List to players with the aim of ensuring that no player can claim that they had not been fully informed.


Related articles:

Maria Sharapova’s Ban Reduced to 15 Months

Maria Sharapova Suspended for Two Years for Testing Positive for Meldonium


Maria Sharapova to play WTT Smash Hits at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on October 10

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

New York, N.Y. (October 5, 2016) Maria Sharapova will be back on the court for the first time since her ban,  when she makes her World TeamTennis Smash Hits debut at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on October 1oth.

Sharapova will be playing in the charity event for the first time in its 24-year history. WTT Smash Hits, which is co-hosted by Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King, raises funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Sharapova joins an all-star field that includes John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova, Mardy Fish and Mark Philippoussis. Another new addition to the field is former world No. 1 doubles player Liezel Huber.


“I am really excited to get back on the court for a great cause,” said the five-time major  winner Sharapova in a press release. “I have been wanting to play this event for Billie and Elton for a long time so I am looking forward to a great night of tennis.”



Since 1993, WTT Smash Hits has raised more than $14 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local AIDS charities. Caesars Palace, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is also home to Elton John’s hit show, “The Million Dollar Piano.”


Captained by King and John, the players will form two teams and play a WTT match featuring singles and doubles action. The music legend is expected to participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event. Last year, Team Elton took a 12-11 edge in the overall series with a 17-11 win over Team Billie Jean.


Maria Sharapova’s Ban Reduced to 15 Months

4 October 2016 – London, ENGLAND – An appeal panel appointed under the Code of Sports-related Arbitration of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) has reduced the sanction imposed on Maria Sharapova by an Independent Tribunal on 8 June 2016 from 24 months to 15 months. The results and prize money that Ms. Sharapova earned at the 2016 Australian Open remain disqualified. Her period of ineligibility will now end at midnight on 25 April 2017.

Ms. Sharapova, a 29-year-old player from Russia, provided a urine sample on 26 January 2016 that was found to contain meldonium, which is prohibited under section S4 (Hormone and Metabolic Modulators) of the 2016 WADA Prohibited List. She admitted her consequent violation of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, and noted that the meldonium was the active ingredient of a medication, Mildronate, that she had been taking for ten years, and that she had not realised it had been added to the Prohibited List as from 1 January 2016.

An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1.1 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme found that Ms. Sharapova bore significant fault for her violation, because (among other things) she had failed to put in place an adequate system to check for changes made each year to the Prohibited List. It therefore imposed on Ms. Sharapova a period of ineligibility of two years, backdated to commence on 26 January 2016. Her results at the 2016 Australian Open were disqualified, and the ranking points and prize money that she won at that event were forfeited.

Ms. Sharapova appealed that decision to CAS on the basis that she bore No Significant Fault or Negligence for her anti-doping rule violation and therefore her ban should be reduced from two years to “time served” (i.e., she should be free to start competing again from the date of the CAS panel’s decision).

Following a hearing on 7 and 8 September 2016, the CAS panel found that Ms. Sharapova had a reduced perception of the risk that she took while using Mildronate, because (a) she had used Mildronate for around ten years without any anti-doping issue, (b) she had consulted the Russian doctor who prescribed the Mildronate for medical reasons, not to enhance her performance, and (c) she had received no specific warning about the change in status of meldonium from WADA, the ITF, or the WTA. In addition, the CAS panel considered that it was reasonable for Ms. Sharapova to entrust the checking of the Prohibited List each year to her agent.

However, the CAS panel found that Ms. Sharapova was at fault for (a) failing to give her agent adequate instructions as to how to carry out the important task of checking the Prohibited List, and (b) failing to supervise and control the actions of her agent in carrying out that task (specifically the lack of any procedure for reporting or follow-up verification to make sure that her agent had actually discharged his duty). The CAS panel also noted Ms. Sharapova’s failure to disclose her use of meldonium on her doping control forms.

Taking all of these circumstances into account, the CAS panel determined that, although Ms. Sharapova was at fault, her plea of No Significant Fault or Negligence should be upheld, triggering a discretion to reduce the otherwise applicable two year sanction by up to 50 per cent. Based on its analysis of Ms. Sharapova’s degree of fault, the CAS panel decided that the sanction should be reduced in this case to 15 months.


The full decision is available at www.itftennis.com/antidoping

Editor’s note:

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme applies to all players competing at Grand Slam tournaments and events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World AntiDoping Agency and, upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed under the Programme in compliance with the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code. More information on the Programme, sanctions, statistics, and related matters can be found at www.itftennis.com/antidoping.


Sharapova statement:


More to follow…

Related articles:
Maria Sharapova Suspended for Two Years for Testing Positive for Meldonium

Maria Sharapova Suspended for Two Years for Testing Positive for Meldonium


(June 8, 2016) Maria Sharapova has been suspended from tennis for two years for testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open. Sharapova said she will appeal the ruling by an independent three-person panel appointed by the International Tennis Federation.

Sharapova was initially provisionally suspended by the ITF in March after she announced that she failed a doping test at the Australian Open.

Below is the press release from the ITF about the decision, a PDF of the decision itself,  a statement from WADA, Sharapova’s statement on her Facebook page and a statement from the WTA tour.




From the International Tennis Federation: 8 June 2016 – London, ENGLAND

Decision in the case of Maria Sharapova

An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1 of the 2016 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (the “Programme”) has found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme and as a consequence has disqualified the affected results and imposed a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 26 January 2016.


Ms. Sharapova, a 29-year-old player from Russia, provided a urine sample on 26 January 2016, after her quarterfinal match at the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. That sample was sent to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Montreal, Canada for analysis, and was found to contain meldonium, which is a metabolic modulator that is included under section S4 (Hormone and Metabolic Modulators) of the 2016 WADA Prohibited List, and therefore is also prohibited under the Programme.


On 2 March 2016, Ms. Sharapova was charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in a Player’s Sample). She promptly admitted that she had committed the Anti-Doping Rule Violation charged, and asked for a hearing before an Independent Tribunal in accordance with Article 8 of the Programme to determine the consequences to be imposed on her for that violation.


At a two-day hearing on 18-19 May 2016, the Independent Tribunal received evidence and heard legal arguments from both parties, and subsequently issued a reasoned decision on 8 June, which is available at www.itftennis.com/antidoping. The Independent Tribunal determined that (1) Ms. Sharapova should serve a period of ineligibility of two years; (2) due to her prompt admission of her violation, that period of ineligibility should be back-dated under Article 10.10.3(b) of the Programme to commence from 26 January 2016 (the date of sample collection) and so should end at midnight on 25 January 2018; and (3) her results at the 2016 Australian Open should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that she won at that event.


The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme applies to all players competing at Grand Slam tournaments and events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and, upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed under the Programme in compliance with the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code. More information on the Programme, sanctions, statistics, and related matters can be found at www.itftennis.com/antidoping.

Full decision in the case of Maria Sharapova 231178


WADA statement regarding Maria Sharapova case

WADA acknowledges the decision issued today by the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Independent Tribunal which found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) for the use of banned substance Meldonium, and that, as a consequence, a period of ineligibility of two (2) years has been imposed, commencing on 26 January 2016.

As with all decisions made by Anti-Doping Organizations, WADA will review the decision, including its reasoning, and will subsequently decide whether or not to use its independent right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).



Maria Sharapova’s statement on decision from her Facebook page:

Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance. The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation — and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position.

While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.

Love Maria

P.S. My lawyer prepared a short summary of how the ITF process works so I thought I would pass it along to my fans so you too can be aware of what the ITF rules call for





WTA Issues Statement on ITF Ruling for Maria SharapovaWTA Statement:  Steve Simon, WTA CEO, in response to today’s ITF ruling in the Sharapova case:

“It is important at all times for players to be aware of the rules and to follow them.  In this case, Maria has taken responsibility for her mistake from the outset.  The WTA supports the process that the ITF and Maria have followed. The ITF has made its ruling and, under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program, the decision may be appealed to the Court Arbitration for Sport. The WTA will continue to follow this closely and we hope it will be resolved as soon as possible.”


Related article:

Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Drug Test at Australian Open


Venus Williams’ Return to Indian Wells Ends in a Loss to Qualifier Kurumi Nara

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

(March 11, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – After a 15-year absence, Venus Williams returned to Indian Wells on Friday to face Kurumi Nara. The qualifier from Japan ranked 89th in the world spoiled Williams’ return winning 6-4, 6-3 on Center Court to get her first win over the world No. 12.

Williams last played the event in 2001 when she and her father were booed and jeered at by fans in the stands after Venus withdrew from her semifinal against Serena with an injury as both were watching the final. Serena won the tournament. Venus Williams wrote about why she returned in the Player’s Tribune.

Walking on the court to thunderous applause in a half-filled stadium, the seven-time major champion acknowledged the crowd before she sat down, waving to fans in all directions and putting her hand over her heart.

“I did get emotional,” Williams said. “When we were doing the coin toss I got a little watery eyed. Your opponent, you don’t want to give them any more encouragement. It was wonderful. I think I smiled the whole warmup. I had to get my game face on. It was tough to do.”

“The crowd rooted me on because it was a tough day and tough conditions and brutal out there,” she said. “It was wonderful to feel the love. You know, I would love to come on back.”

Williams’ sister Serena made her return to the desert last year which influenced the older sister to return.

“I hadn’t really thought a lot about Indian Wells, playing here, until Serena thought she was going to come back,” she said. “That’s when I thought about it, obviously, after she played.

“So before that I hadn’t really — it’s not something I focused on, you know. In your life, especially when you try to accomplish things, you’re focusing on what you can accomplish, not on what happened ages ago.”

“I think what I felt was I want to be able to play well for everyone I think more than anything,” said Williams when asked about how she felt about the match coming into the tournament. “Obviously I saw Serena’s warm welcome. I just wanted to come out and play well and try to win that match.

“So I think that’s more than anything what I felt. But like I said, I was able to come and focus on the tennis. You know, I’m a person that’s not into the spotlight so much, so I guess such a warm welcome I actually felt a little shy.

“So, you know, it’s been a wonderful moment. You know, 15 years later to have such a joyous return is more than I could have ever. It’s such a blessing.”

A rare rain delay in Indian Wells came at 3-3 in the first set and the winds continued to be blustery throughout the match.

The wind played havoc on the 35-year-old’s game making 43 errors and hitting only 21 winners. Williams was only 4 for 12 on break points.

Kurumi Nara

Kurumi Nara

For Nara, it was her first victory over the seven-time major champion in three tries. The Japanese woman called it the “No. 1 win” of her career.

Asked about  the very hot topic about Maria Sharapova’s situation, Williams explained:

“Well, any time I have spoken up on issues is because I know the facts. In this case I don’t. I guess they are finding the facts now. That’s, I guess, a discovery period.

“So what can you say? What I do know is that in the past she’s been very competitive. I think she has been a role model for a lot of people. She has a ton of fans, and I think she’s affected a lot of lives in a positive way. Hopefully that will won’t be the end of that.”

“I really don’t know any — nobody called me and told me what the facts are so how can I comment? I don’t know anything at all. I don’t think anyone knows. I don’t know.”

“It was hard, rough out there,” said Williams about her contest with Nara. “She played really well. You know, everything was going for her. She’s very competitive. Everything seemed to be comfortable for her. Even the shank shots kept going in.

“I kept saying, How are these balls going in? Lord, how do I get some of mine in? And the conditions were really brutal. Just serving, it was tough. Not ideal.

“Thankfully it looks like it at least calmed down so when Serena gets out there it will be a tad bit easier. It was still a great day.”


More to follow….




Maria Sharapova Posts Letter to Fans on Her Facebook Page

Maria Sharapova with media

(March 11, 2016) Maria Sharapova posted a letter to her fans on her Facebook page on Friday. Sharapova announced on Monday that she had tested positive for Meldonium at the Australian Open. The drug became a banned substance as of January.

Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Drug Test at Australian Open

Since her announcement, a few of the companies of the products she endorses have suspended her, including Nike.

To My Fans:

I want to reach out to you to share some information, discuss the latest news, and let you know that there have been things that have been reported wrong in the media, and I am determined to fight back. You have shown me a tremendous outpouring of support, and I’m so grateful for it. But I have also been aware that some not all, but some in the media distort, exaggerate and fail to accurately report the facts about what happened.

A report said that I had been warned five times about the upcoming ban on the medicine I was taking. That is not true and it never happened.

That’s a distortion of the actual “communications,” which were provided or simply posted onto a webpage.

I make no excuses for not knowing about the ban. I already told you about the December 22, 2015 email I received. Its subject line was “Main Changes to the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme for 2016.” I should have paid more attention to it.

But the other “communications?” They were buried in newsletters, websites, or handouts.

On December 18, I received an email with the subject line “Player News” on it. It contained a newsletter on a website that contained tons of information about travel, upcoming tournaments, rankings, statistics, bulletin board notices, happy birthday wishes, and yes, anti-doping information. On that email, if a player wanted to find the specific facts about medicine added to the anti-doping list, it was necessary to open the “Player News” email, read through about a dozen unrelated links, find the “Player Zone” link, enter a password, enter a username, read a home screen with more than three dozen different links covering multiple topics, find the “2016 Changes to Tennis Anti-Doping Program and Information” link, click on it and then read a page with approximately three dozen more links covering multiple anti-doping matters. Then you had to click the correct link, open it up, scroll down to page two and that’s where you would find a different name for the medication I was taking.

In other words, in order to be aware of this “warning,” you had to open an email with a subject line having nothing to do with anti-doping, click on a webpage, enter a password, enter a username, hunt, click, hunt, click, hunt, click, scroll and read. I guess some in the media can call that a warning. I think most people would call it too hard to find.

There was also a “wallet card” distributed at various tournaments at the beginning of 2016, after the ban went into effect. This document had thousands of words on it, many of them technical, in small print. Should I have studied it? Yes. But if you saw this document (attached), you would know what I mean. Again, no excuses, but it’s wrong to say I was warned five times.

There was also a headline that said, “4-6 Weeks Normal Treatment for Drug in Maria Sharapova Case.” That headline has been repeated by many reporters who fail to tell their viewers and readers what the rest of the story says. The story quotes the manufacturer of my medicine as saying: “Treatment course can be repeated twice or thrice a year. Only physicians can follow and evaluate patient’s health condition and state whether the patient should use meldonium for a longer period of time.”

That’s exactly what I did. I didn’t take the medicine every day. I took it the way my doctor recommended I take it and I took it in the low doses recommended.

I’m proud of how I have played the game. I have been honest and upfront. I won’t pretend to be injured so I can hide the truth about my testing.

I look forward to the ITF hearing at which time they will receive my detailed medical records. I hope I will be allowed to play again. But no matter what, I want you, my fans, to know the truth and have the facts.

— Maria






Related articles:

Novak Djokovic on Maria Sharapova: “I do feel sorry about what’s happening with her”

Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Drug Test at Australian Open


Novak Djokovic on Maria Sharapova: “I do feel sorry about what’s happening with her”

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 11, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Four-time BNP Paribas Open winner Novak Djokovic held a pre-tournament news conference after the unveiling of his winner’s mural in Stadium Plaza.

Djokovic was asked about his views on Maria Sharapova and her situation. The five-time major winner announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, a drug she says she’s been using for 10 years for different health issues. Meldonium became a banned substance in January under the WADA code.

“Well, it’s been the talk of the tennis world for the last couple of days, and this kind of news caught us all by surprise. I think I can talk about, you know, Maria and her situation from two perspectives, Djokovic said.

“First as a friend, somebody that knows her for a long time, of course I do feel sorry about what’s happening with her. I know that, you know, she has always been very responsible and aware towards herself, towards the sport, very disciplined, very kind of hard working, hard-working ethics, and love what she does.

“You know, she believes and still does believe that the hard work really pays off, and that’s what gets her titles.

“So as a friend, you know, I really hope that she will find the best possible way. I thought she was very courageous and was very human, brave of her, to go out and take the responsibility and say what has happened. She did admit that she made a mistake with her team, and I think, you know, you don’t have to blame ^ WADA for anything.

“It’s completely normal to expect that under these circumstances, you know, the player that has made this mistake has to suffer certain kind of consequences, and I’m sure she’s aware of that. She has approached this very maturely. I really admire that.

“On the other hand, from the different perspective, I talk as somebody that is involved in professional tennis and sport for so many years that always believed in clean and fair sport.

“So I do — I do hope that — I mean, obviously I can’t speak about the details because I don’t know. I know as much as you guys know whether or not she was aware of the changes. But certainly if there was a mistake and if she was caught to be positive on the doping for a certain substance, then there should be certain kind of, you know, consequences for that.

“But, again, I’m not here to talk about, you know, whether or not she needs to be away from the courts for certain periods of time. You know, I leave this to WADA and antidoping agency and, you know, organizations that are responsible for that.”

Djokovic admitted that he never heard about Medonium, the drug Sharapova took which was banned by WADA since January.

“No, I never heard of that medication,” he said. “Just one more thing I wanted to say, because I feel like in the sport in general there is maybe a conviction with many athletes that maybe medications and certain substances can make you feel healthy or, you know, feel better.

“I don’t believe in that kind of short-term process. I believe in long-term balance and harmonious health and well-being that is achieved, you know, with — from different aspects.

“I wouldn’t say that there is a magic potion or elixir that can make you feel better. No, I never heard about that substance.

“And regarding e-mails, I have to be frank that I don’t read them all. I do have the team of people that is working with me and that, you know, I have faith 100%, and if there is any significant changes that I need to be aware of, I am aware of. They do let me know.

“We communicate of course on a daily basis between the medical team, between the marketing team, or, you know, operational team. There is always something that needs to be discussed.”
“Now, I don’t know what the pros and cons are of this medicine, but it can happen to many people if it’s only a case of negligence, of Maria and her team of not really paying attention to the change,” said the world No. 1.

“Now, whether or not she was informed before or not, I don’t know that. I think the communication may be from the side of the governing bodies of tennis maybe should be a little bit better in terms of involvement of maybe ATP, as well, because I feel like maybe sometimes ATP is stepping on the side because it’s a matter of ITF and WADA.”

“I’m just saying there are maybe ways to improve the communication so that these things don’t happen in the future, because what has happened with Viktor Troicki was also something that was very debatable,” Djokovic said.

“I know him since I was seven years old, so I know — I know him like my own brother, so I can, you know, claim that he has never — has done or taken something that, you know, would be banned. Which he didn’t, as well. He was banned for 18 months for kind of refusing to give the blood sample that day, and he got the verbal confirmation from that lady that was working for WADA that he can do that because he was feeling bad.

“So because of this, you know, small certain situation and circumstances and negligence of somebody, you know, a player suffers for 18 months’ ban. Those kind of things, you know, need to be communicated better I think in order not to kind of damage the player’s career.”

Djokovic admitted that there have been times that he’s had a health issue and a doctor has prescribed something and he’s refuse to take the medication, because he did not know if it contained a banned substance or not.

Djokovic comes into Indian Wells dealing with health issues of his own over the past few weeks. He had to retire from a match in Dubai due to and eye infection. He played Davis Cup over the weekend and led Serbia to the quarterfinals.

“It was a couple of not easy weeks for me health-wise, but it was due to a lot going on on the court and off the court that, you know, caused maybe a weaker immune system that was more prone to those kind of infections” said Djokovic.

“Has happened first time honestly in my life to have some kind of an issue with an eye. Yeah, after that it was the Davis Cup. It was not physically very easy those three days, but all in all, I feel good. I feel already adjusted to the time zone of the West Coast. I have been here for already several days.

“You know, going back to normal. Hopefully I will be able to play at my best from the beginning.”

Djokovic comes into the tournament looking to win his fifth BNP Paribas Open title, which would set a record.

Karen Pestaina is covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.


Related article:

Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Drug Test at Australian Open


Maria Sharapova Announces She Failed Drug Test at Australian Open

(March 7, 2016) Maria Sharapova held a news conference on Monday in Los Angeles to announce that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, a drug she says she’s been using for 10 years for different health issues. Meldonium became a banned substance in January under the WADA code. She said that she did not notice that the drug was on the banned list.

The 28-year-old former No. 1 could face a ban from the International Tennis Federation.

“I know that with this, I face consequences,” Sharapova said in her news conference. “I don’t want to end my career this way, and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.”

“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my job, and I made a huge mistake,” Sharapova said. “I let my fans down. I let the sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of 4, that I love so deeply.”


Maria Sharapova’s news conference:



7 March 2016

Following the statement made by Maria Sharapova in a press conference today, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) can confirm the following:

  • On 26 January 2016, Ms Sharapova provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with her participation in the 2016 Australian Open.
  • That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Code and, therefore also the TADP.
  • In accordance with Article 8.1.1 of the TADP, Ms Sharapova was charged on 2 March with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
  • Ms Sharapova has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January.
  • As meldonium is a non-specified substance under the WADA (and, therefore, TADP) list of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods, Ms Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case.

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a comprehensive and internationally recognised drug-testing programme that applies to all players competing at Grand Slam tournaments and events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and, upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed in accordance with the requirements of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and World Anti-Doping Code. More background information on the Programme, sanctions, tennis statistics and related information can be found at www.itftennis.com/antidoping.



Steve Simon, WTA CEO in response to Maria Sharapova’s announcement:

St Petersburg, Florida, USA – “I am very saddened to hear this news about Maria.  Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity.  Nevertheless, as Maria acknowledged, it is every player’s responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible.  This matter is now in the hands of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and its standard procedures.  The WTA will support the decisions reached through this process.”


BNP Paribas Open – Maria Sharapova Withdraws and Wildcards Named

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(March 3, 2016) World No. 7 Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open due to a left forearm injury.


“I am extremely disappointed that I am unable to compete in this year’s BNP Paribas Open,” said Sharapova. “I have been focused on healing my left forearm injury and tried to get my body to be 100% ready to play this event, as it is one of my favorite events on the WTA and so close to my home in LA.  I know the tournament will be a great success this year and I will be anxious to return next year and hopefully many years after.”

With Sharapova’s withdrawal, Mariana Duque-Marino moves into the main draw.

Eight Americans, along with two-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Daniela Hantuchova and former British No. 1 Heather Watson, were awarded wildcards into the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 7-20 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced by CEO Raymond Moore.

Americans who were granted wildcards into the main draws include Rajeev Ram, who reached the finals of Delray Beach last month; Frances Tiafoe, the youngest player in Top 200 of the ATP World Tour rankings; Mackenzie McDonald, a former collegiate standout at UCLA and Pac-12 Player of the Year; Samantha Crawford, who reached the semifinals at Brisbane in January; Alison Riske, who reached the finals at Shenzen earlier this season; Lauren Davis, who reached the third round of the 2016 Australian Open; Jamie Loeb, who won the 2015 NCAA Singles title at the University of North Carolina; and Shelby Rogers, who reached the finals at Rio de Janeiro in February.


2009 U.S. Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro, American Taylor Fritz and Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai were previously awarded wildcards into the main draw.


Grand Slam Champions Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Ana Ivanovic and Petra Kvitova were granted wildcards into the doubles draws. Murray teams with Colin Fleming, Wawrinka pairs with Mahesh Bhupathi, Ivanovic partners with Kirsten Flipkens, and Kvitova will play with Denisa Allertova.


There are also three more men’s and two more women’s qualifying draw wildcards to be distributed. Two of those qualifying wildcards will be given to the men’s and women’s winners of the BNP Paribas Open Challenge, the pre-qualifying event for the tournament.


Serena Williams Beats Maria Sharapova to Reach Australian Open Semifinals

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(January 26, 2016) Serena Williams won her 18th straight match against Maria Sharapova on Tuesday 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals of the Australian Open.

The beginning of the contest looked promising for the world No. 5 Sharapova when she opened the match with a 2-0 lead. The defending and six-time Australian Open champion Williams won 12 of the next 15 games to seal the win.

“I just started slow,” Williams said. “I missed three or four easy shots. I felt like, All right, I didn’t make those shots, but if I had made those shots I probably would have won that game.

“I just clung onto that and knew I could play better.”

“It was super intense,” Williams said after the match. “You have to come out with a lot of fire and intensity.”

In between sets, the defending champion had a visit from the doctor on-court. “I was just dealing with some food poisoning issues from a few days ago. That was it.”

Each of the six times Williams has reached the semifinal stage of the Australian Open, she has gone on to become the champion.

The 34-year-old Williams hit 31 winners to Sharapova’s 11, winning a total of 70 points during the match to the five-time major winner’s 52.

“She played quite explosive,” Sharapova said. “Thought at times, you know, when I got in the rally I wasn’t moving forward, wasn’t cutting the angles off enough.

“She got herself back in the points.”

Asked about how she can reverse her record against Williams, Sharapova said: “Keep setting opportunities. Keep getting to the point where I have an opportunity to play against her. Keep finding a way to turn that around. If I don’t have that chance then I don’t have the opportunity to try something different.”

“Well, it’s obviously always frustrating,” Sharapova commented on her poor record against Williams, now 2-19. “I mean, it’s motivating. It’s tough to sit here 30 minutes after the match and talk about the match, but that’s part of my job.

“It’s motivating because she’s at a different level. She makes you go back to the drawing board, not just for me, but for many other players. She makes you work. That’s inspiring.”

“Something about her game, ” Williams said of the 18-match streak against Sharapova. “I like the way she hits the ball. Plus, when I play her, I know automatically I have to step up my game. I think that makes me play better. When I play better, when I’m forced to play better, I don’t know, I do well.”

So what’s the Russian’s schedule before the U. S. hardcourt season in March? “I’m going to go and take care of my forearm first. I think that’s really important. I’m going to go to Moscow (for Fed Cup), be part of the team. I don’t think I’ll be playing. Then I’m not sure.

“But I think this will be a time to just get myself ready for a long year. I don’t see myself playing anything before Indian Wells.”

The world No. 1 and 21-time major champion will match up against Agnieszka Radwanska in her semifinal.

Radwanska beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals for her second appearance in the Melbourne final four.

Radwanska who is 0-8 against Williams commented about her next match: “Right now I have nothing to lose. Hopefully (I’ll) play my best tennis, otherwise I’ll be in big trouble.”

“She got the better of me at Hopman Cup,” Williams said. “It will be a good match. She’s been playing really well towards the end of the year, and already this year she’s been very consistent.

“She presents a completely different game, an extremely exciting game. So I think it will be a long match and it will be a good match to see where I am.”

“I didn’t think I’d be playing at this age,” said the 34-year-old. “But I’m still here and I’m doing well. I think that’s the reason I am still playing, because I know that I’m capable, you know, if I play well, of being on top.”