EXCLUSIVE: WADA Official Hits Back At Head’s Sharapova Comments and Defends The Banning Of Meldonium - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Hot Topics

EXCLUSIVE: WADA Official Hits Back At Head’s Sharapova Comments and Defends The Banning Of Meldonium

Published

on

 

The Media Relations manager of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Ben Nichols, has branded Head’s remarks on Maria Sharapova’s ongoing doping case as ‘inappropriate’ in an email sent to ubitennis.net.

The prestigious sporting equipment and clothing company has been vocal in their support for Sharapova, who currently has a sponsorship with them. During the Australian Open, Sharapova failed a drug test after testing positive for Meldonium, a substance which was added to WADA’s list of banned substances on January 1st 2016.

On March 11th Head posted a statement of support for Sharapova and questioned the justification for suspending the former world No.1. A week later on March 19th, the CEO of Head, Johan Eliasch, called for the WADA to publish the scientific evidence they used to ban the drug.

“It appears WADA has banned the substance based upon the number of athletes using it rather than its actual efficacy in improving performance. The meldonium investor and drug manufacturer claim the drug should be taken by athletes who wish to protect their health.” Eliasch said during a lengthy statement.

HEAD’S support of Sharapova has been welcomed by her army of fans, however, questions has been raised about their vocal support before her doping hearing has taken place. Ubitennis contacted Nichols in regards to this matter and he has stated that it is ‘inappropriate’ for any public party to comment on an ongoing doping case.

“It is inappropriate for WADA, and indeed others, to comment on the specifics of cases until the International Federation or National Anti-Doping Agency in charge with the result management of the cases has issued their decision.” Mr Nichols told Ubitennis.

Grindeks, the Latvian company that makes Meldonium, said yesterday that the drug could potentially ‘take months’ to leave a person’s body depending on other factors. This leaves the possibility that an athlete could have taken the substance in late 2015 (when it was legal) and still fail a drugs test in 2016. Nevertheless, Nichols stated that athletes have been given sufficient notice about banning the substance and if this scenario occurs, they will need to provide evidence.

The date an athlete sample is collected is the date any subsequent anti-doping rule violation is asserted to have taken place. At any hearing that follows, the onus is then on the athlete to explain how the substance was in his or her body.” He said.

Regarding the legitimacy behind the banning of the substance, Nichols has hit back at critics. He said WADA conducted a very detailed investigation in the substance and gave ‘all stakeholders involved’ a chance to speak about the substance prior to their decision to ban the drug.

“Meldonium was placed on WADA’s monitoring program for 2015, at which time it was being monitored for patterns of misuse”. The WADA head of media told ubitennis.
“During what was a very thorough consultation process in 2015, all stakeholders had the opportunity to submit their comments regarding meldonium”.

Nichols also stressed to Ubitennis that all WADA signatories was notified in September 2015 that the substance would be added to the 2016 list.

There can be no question as to the procedure that was followed, which established Meldonium as a banned substance as of 1st January 2016.” He later added.

Since the banning of Meldonium, there has been over 100 failed positive tests. Apart from Sharapova, other athletes include 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Yuliya Efimova (swimming) and 2013 European indoor 800 meter champion Nataliia Lupu (athletics).

WADA is currently appealing for more money to be invested in the organization. Their president, Craig Reedie, has called for extra funding for his organization to help tackle doping in sport. He has called for sponsors as well as broadcasters to help fund the WADA. Their current budget is approximately $26 million per year. To put this figure into perspective, BT Sport and Sky sports paid £5.1bn for live Premier League TV rights for three seasons from 2016-17.  This equates to $14.5 million per match.

One proposed idea in the fight against anti-doping is to fine the sponsor every time a athlete fails a drugs test. The idea is that if the sponsor was involved, it could act as a greater deterrent for athletes. Putting this idea to Nichols, he remained neutral on the idea, however, he said that ‘time has come’ to look for ways to increase WADA’s funding.

Regarding funding, the WADA President was very clear in his recent speech that he believes the time has come to look at other ways of increasing funding for anti-doping, including asking major sport sponsors to help fund clean sport”. Mr Nichols concluded.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Hot Topics

‘I See Him Running A Show’ – Alex Corretja On Federer’s Possible Return To Wimbledon As Pundit

Published

on

Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Former world No.2 Alex Corretja says broadcasters must value Roger Federer if he works for them amid growing speculation that the Swiss maestro could join the BBC for this year’s Wimbledon Championships. 

 

British media reports have claimed that the 20-time Grand Slam winner is currently in negotiations with the BBC over possibly joining their team for the grass-court major in what would be a major coup for the organization. The Express newspaper says a ‘special condition’ must be met for such an agreement to take place but it is unclear as to what this alleged condition will be. 

Federer, who has won Wimbledon more times than any other male player in history, pulled the plug on his record-breaking career last year. In recent months, he has vowed to stay connected with the sport in some capacity to avoid becoming what he describes as a ‘tennis ghost.’ In an interview with the newspaper Tages Anzeiger, he expressed an interest in potentially going into broadcasting.

“I never thought I would say this but six months ago I suddenly thought (about) commentating on tennis someday. Who knows? Although I always said I would never do that,” he said.

Speaking about the possibility of having Federer on the TV screen once again, Correrja said ‘it would be awesome.’ The Spaniard is a former coach of Andy Murray who has since worked as a tennis analyst for Eurosport. 

“I mean Roger can do whatever he likes, he’s going to be welcome anywhere he goes,” he told Express Sport.
“He knows tennis, he loves tennis, he is well respected, he’s such a classy guy and definitely that would be awesome for us to have him somewhere related to tennis.”
“I think it’s nice to have the ex-players involved because they can add lots of things, lots of experiences that no one lived before so if you’ve been there before it’s much easier to explain why players are feeling one way or another than if you’ve never been there before.”

It is unclear when the BBC will release their line-up of presenters for this year’s tournament which will not feature Sue Barker as the broadcaster’s main anchor for the first time since 1999. Barker retired from her position last year and is rumoured to be replaced by Claire Balding. 

Corretja says If Federer agrees to join the team it would be a waste of time having him just call matches and argue that he should be given his own segments. Even though the former world No.1 hasn’t got any presenting experience yet. 

“I’m not so sure if he’s going to be calling matches or not, I’m not so sure if he’s going to be sitting in the booth, maybe he might do it from time to time,” he said.
“But I see him running a show, being the main one there and saying ‘Okay, I’m the man here’, guiding the whole thing. Maybe doing interviews or a programme, doing something special.”
“But it has to be something special and knowing Roger, for sure it’s going to be something special.
“He’s not going to be calling matches for eight hours a day, I don’t think that makes sense. You need to value Federer as what he is and he has to be something very unique because he is very unique.”

Should Federer join the BBC, he could earn thousands depending on how much he commits to doing and his contract terms. According to the BBC’s 2021/2022 star salaries list, John McEnroe earned between £180,000-£184,999 for his work during the tournament. 

The 2023 Wimbledon Championships will begin on July 3rd. 

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Emma Raducanu Can Win More Grand Slam Titles, Says Former Olympic Champion Puig

Published

on

Emma Raducanu reacts during a Women's Singles match at the 2021 US Open, Monday, Sep. 6, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

The rapid rise of Emma Raducanu in women’s tennis is something Monica Puig can relate to. 

 

At the 2021 US Open the Brit stunned the tournament by becoming the first qualifier in history to win the Grand Slam. In 10 matches played, Raducanu won them all without dropping a set in what was only her second appearance in the main draw of a major event. The achievement elevated the youngster to the limelight as she experienced a surge in interest in her by both fans and endorsement deals. 

However, since the triumph Raducanu is yet to contest another final on the Tour and is now ranked 80th in the world. Last year she won 16 matches on the WTA Tour with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Seoul Open in South Korea. Part of her lacklustre results can be attributed to a series of injury issues she has experienced with the most recent being an ankle injury she sustained at the start of this season in Auckland.

Raducanu’s roller-coaster journey is one that Puig knows all too well from her time on the Tour. The Puerto Rican made history in 2016 by becoming the first athlete from her country to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Since then, she only reached one Tour final at the 2017 Luxemburg Open and never progressed beyond the third round of a Grand Slam. Puig retired from tennis in 2022 following a lengthy battle with injury.

“I saw her many times courtside during the US Open when she did when that title and she is a very talented player,”
Puig said of Raducanu during an interview with Sky Sports.
“Physically, she’s still very young. I’m not going to say she’s already a very established player with a lot of experience. She won that US Open title having not played many WTA events and she hasn’t had a full calendar.
“She still needs time to develop and time to find out who she is as a tennis player, who she is as a person and I can sympathise with her because when I won the Olympics it came out of nowhere.
“I didn’t have as much media attention as she does and I can only imagine coming from the UK where something like that is so big. It just exploded.”

Offering her advice to the tennis star, Puig believes it is important that she establish a strong foundation in her team before setting out any goals. Raducanu has gone through numerous coaches over the past two years. She is currently working alongside Sebastian Sachs who has previously mentored Victoria Azarenka and Belinda Bencic.

As for the possibility of Raducanu claiming more major glory in the future, Puig believes she is more than capable of doing so.

“Absolutely! She’s still young. It’s a matter of time. We’re always seeing generational changes with so players like myself and Serena Williams having now stepped away. The new generation that’s going to come and carry the torch for the future generation,” she commented. 
“Yes, she is going to be in that circle of names that are going to be a force to be reckoned with. She just needs to settle, find her ground and take the pressure and expectation off because she already did something that not many people can do.
“Remember the reason why you started playing tennis in the first place. It’s because of the love of the sport.”


Raducanu has played just two tournaments so far this season but was forced to retire from her second round match at the ASB Classic after she hurt her ankle. At the Australian Open, she won her opening match before losing in straight sets to Coco Gauff.

Continue Reading

Hot Topics

Dominic Thiem Vows To Fight On In Hope Of Returning To Top Forn

The former world No.3 admits he is in a ‘difficult situation’ after failing to win a match so far this year.

Published

on

Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

Dominic Thiem says he must continue to ‘give everything’ on the court if he wishes to return to the top of the men’s game after what has been a challenging past few months. 

 

Thiem, who won the 2020 US Open title, has endured mixed results on the Tour ever since returning to the sport following a wrist injury which sidelined him for nine months. Towards the end of last year, he showed glimmers of finding his momentum after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at ATP 250 events in Gijon and Antwerp. 

However, the start to this season has been a frustrating one for Thiem who is yet to win a match of any sort. After losing in the first round of the Adelaide International and Australian Open, he failed to win two matches during his country’s Davis Cup clash with Croatia over the weekend. He is currently on a five-match losing streak. 

“It’s a difficult situation, definitely,” The 29-year-old admitted during an interview with Kronen Zeitung“It’s not always easy for me, which has been the last year and a half since the US Open. What I have to do is give everything, and fight hard from the first to the last ball. Then I definitely have a chance of getting back to a very good level. This is also the only chance.”

Thiem is coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu who oversaw him win his maiden Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells a year before he claimed the US Open crown. Although given his recent difficulties in the sport, would he be willing to get some extra help?

“Ultimately, it depends mostly on me, or just me. If there are too many outside voices, it’s not good,” he said. “I’m 29, turning 30 soon, and it’s the only chance I’ll have 100 per cent determination to get back to a top level.’
“I can also get a Roger Federer if I can’t muster it… I have to see if I can do it.”

So far in his career, the Austrian has won 17 Tour titles and was runner-up in 11 other ATP tournaments. He is only one of two players to have scored five or more wins over every member of the Big Three. Furthermore, he has recorded 32 wins over top 10 opponents. 

Undoubtedly the pinnacle of Thiem’s career was at Flushing Meadows where he came back from two sets down against Alexander Zverev to win his first Grand Slam title. However, coming to terms with his achievement has been a struggle. The following year he only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of eight tournaments played before a wrist injury brought his season to an abrupt end. 

“It (the fire) went out after the US Open,” he jokes. “But we’ve already talked about that. I don’t want to blame myself for that either. There are players who celebrate great success, who are spurred on even further, who are pushed even further to perform even better. Who are immediately on fire to win the next Grand Slam title.’
“It wasn’t like that for me, I’m a different guy. It took me a while before I accepted that. That I find it a bit harder than some others. What I certainly also had to learn is that it is only up to me and I have to regulate it myself.”

Thiem is currently ranked 96th in the world. This year is the first season he has started ranked outside of the top 90 since 2014. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending