Sharapova not taking coke shocker

Meldonium, which Sharapova said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Doping Anti-Agency (WADA) at the beginning of the year following “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”.

Some readers come over all lascivious at the thought of Ms. Sharapova. And why not: but would it enhance that reputation if she were a coke snorting party blonde?

Or just some performance enhancing stuff.

Err, performance enhancing, fnarr fnarr.

53 thoughts on “Sharapova not taking coke shocker”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I dunno. It didn’t improve my opinion of Martina Hingis all that much. On the other hand, I was shocked Ms Sharapova wasn’t taking cocaine when I saw the headline. An actual genuine performance enhancing drug – who would have guess?

    I suppose if she was a coke-snorting fiend, it would increase my chances of getting a leg over. But by the time she had worked her way down the field to me, just short of under a railway bridge in Birmingham, I am not sure I would be that keen.

    Actually Ms Hingis looks too self-controlled to be good in bed. Maybe the coke would help.

  2. Anyone know if Viagra and the other “performance enhancing” drugs are on these sports banned lists, given that they increase blood flow?

    Just out of casual interest you understand, as I’m neither a sportsman, nor a user (currently but expect at some future point to be).

  3. First thing I thought was that I remember her being a lot hotter.

    Yeah, me too. That’s something the press like to do though, isn’t it? When an athlete or celebrity is on top, they post a flattering pic, when they are under fire they post a pic of them having just gotten out of bed.

    Still would of course.

    Get in line!

    For my part, I see Nike and Tag Heuer have quickly moved to drop their sponsorship of her. She is welcome to move in with me should she find herself homeless.

    Incidentally, a keen cyclist and long distance runner I once knew was convinced tennis was rife with performance-enhancing drugs, but the Genteel nature of the sport made it appear almost rude to suggest it, never mind impose harsh testing regimes that cyclists have to endure.

  4. Rice? RICE? For fucks sake.

    People have been eating rice for thousands of years. Even people in England have been eating lots of it for forty years.
    Life expectancy continues to grow ever upwards.

    If you weren’t aware of the inexorable growth in life expectancy since 1945 you would, after reading the newspapers, assume that the population size had plummeted and the streets were full of decaying bodies, still clutching A cheese sandwich in their cold, rotting hand.

    These people (“scientists”) are destroying themselves. They just cannot help it. To get funding, they have to produce more and more absurd results. Soon they won’t be able to produce a report saying “cancer can kill you” without people snorting in derision.

  5. @Tim Newman

    …and yet Nike have kept on twice-banned Justin Gatlin.

    It’s almost certain that tennis is/has been full of PED users. The Operation Puerto investigation allegedly found lots of evidence linking Spanish players with EPO. Look at David Ferrer – no real weapons in his armoury other than an ability to run all day.

    And Djokovic couldn’t last five sets until his ‘miracle’ change of diet cutting out gluten.

    The blog “Tennis Has A Steroid Problem” has been covering this for years. As with most blogs, the comments descend into conspiracy theories but the author makes a lot of interesting points.

    No wonder cycling fans get pissed off that their sport is always the one referenced for drug cheats. It’s just that they were the first to get found out.

  6. For Pete’s sake, it’s a prescription drug to stop her having a heart attack when she tries too hard. Performance-enhancing to the extent that she is still alive to finish the match…

  7. @ GlenDorran
    Yeah, recently some coach has figured out that you can push people past their natural physical limits if they are more or less guaranteed *not* to drop dead as a result. But that’s recent.
    Miss Sharapova was prescribed this by her GP in 2006, long before anyone thought of it as a PED.
    Capriati wants Sharapova to be stripped of her 2004 Wimbledon for taking a prescriprion drug two years later

  8. For Pete’s sake, it’s a prescription drug to stop her having a heart attack when she tries too hard. Performance-enhancing to the extent that she is still alive to finish the match…

    I agree, this doesn’t look much like a performance-enhancing drug.

  9. And Djokovic couldn’t last five sets until his ‘miracle’ change of diet cutting out gluten.

    That’s the complaint the bloke I knew made: he reckoned there was no way these players could perform regularly at the level they were at, especially in the heat, without using (or being sorely tempted to use) a drug which improves their endurance.

    Interesting about the tennis blog, thanks. I wasn’t aware this was discussed much.

  10. @john77

    Yes, it could be a genuine medical reason – will be interesting to see the results of the investigation.

    @Tim N:

    The 6 hour Australian Open final between Djokovic and Nadal was what finally opened my eyes to it. They were still charging around at the end of the match, playing 30 shot rallies then getting up for the same next point.

  11. “These people (“scientists”) are destroying themselves. They just cannot help it.” All too true, I’m afraid. Presumably people who can’t stand that sort of thing go off to spend a career in something less destructive – smuggling, or something.

  12. Indications:
    Chronic heart failure
    Angina
    Post myocardial infarct.

    She hasn’t had any of these or she wouldn’t play grand slam tennis.

    Drug cheat.

  13. john77 said:

    Capriati wants Sharapova to be stripped of her 2004 Wimbledon for taking a prescriprion drug two years later

    Given Dr Cromarty’s observation, if Sharapova was ill enough to justify that medication then she’s fortunate to have survived Wimbledon without it.

  14. “Drug cheat”

    Only since 1st January 2016.

    Prior to that what she was taking was allowed.

  15. @ Gareth
    Cumulative stress factors. The human body will get away with doing a lot of things once (in most cases twice) but not dozens of times.
    @ Dr Cromarty
    “She had “abnormal electrocardiogram readings” and “some diabetes indicators”, which prompted the doctor to recommend medication, including meldonium.” – to *prevent* a heart attack or angina.
    There are lots of athletes taking prescription medications, very few of whom are drug cheats. The AAA had a system where you had to register your use of a whole range of medications (for instance, I was registered as allowed to use Beconase outside competitions, which would have been important if I had ever performed well enough to justify a drugs test).

  16. @john77

    It would be an interesting medical study to look at the incidence of ADHD amongst Major League Baseball players – it appears to be more than double that in the general population. A huge number of them have Therapeutic Use Exemptions for medicines like Ritalin and Adderall.

    Given the incentives, I think that it’s best to be sceptical of those at the very top level claiming medical conditions.

  17. @ GlenDorran
    You are correct that it is, in general, best to be sceptical and yes, knowing a lot of amateur sportspeople with completely genuine TUEs, I am very likely to be prejudiced towards the “innocent until proven guilty” camp.
    However, I still find it highly implausible that Miss Sharapova would have deliberately taken a banned drug during a “Grand Slam” tournament where the winner was certain to have a drugs test.

  18. @john77: the BBC reports that 700 Russians tested positive for this drug in 2015 (out of 4,300). Sounds like a lot of heart disease in elite Russian athletes.

  19. @john77 Yes, I know a top level amateur runner who is exceptionally cautious on his asthma medication. Having seen him have an attack, I know it’s genuine!

    “…where the winner was certain to have a drugs test.”

    Depends on the quality/accuracy of the testing. Lance Armstrong never tested positive for EPO as it couldn’t be detected at the time. There have been others caught with different drugs because the testing evolves in sophistication but WADA haven’t let on in advance.

    The other possibility is that her trainers and medical team screwed up with her dosing. Again, there have been people caught because they messed up their “cycling” routines and a drug they thought was out of their system actually wasn’t.

    Given the circumstances I think the most likely explanation is that she was using it for performance.

    That’s not to tar all athletes with the cheating label. Jonathan Vouters pulled out of the Tour rather than use a cortisone treatment for a bee sting, as that would have been a breach.

  20. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in reading more about doping in sports then Chris Cooper’s “Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat” is worth looking at.

  21. @ Alex
    (i) That is 700 in 140-odd million Russians
    (ii) My earlier post says “Yeah, recently some coach has figured out that you can push people past their natural physical limits if they are more or less guaranteed *not* to drop dead as a result. But that’s recent.
    Miss Sharapova was prescribed this by her GP in 2006, long before anyone thought of it as a PED.”
    (iii) It has only been “a banned substance” since 1 January 2016.

  22. @ GlenDorran
    It’s only landed on the wada list because their tests found a lot of athletes were using it, so it is implausible that she would have assumed it would not be detected.
    It probably has enhanced her performance as a side-effect, just as my coffee habit (I used to drink two pints a day) enhanced my marathon performance as a side-effect, but as I averaged one marathon a year for just under quarter of a century that was not why I drank coffee.

  23. @john77
    “She had “abnormal electrocardiogram readings” and “some diabetes indicators”, which prompted the doctor to recommend medication, including meldonium.” – to *prevent* a heart attack or angina.

    “Abnormal ECG” is not an MI (needs troponin rise) certainly not heart failure (would need a cardiac ECHO) and angina is a symptom – not diagnosed by an ECG.

    You don’t have ‘diabetes indicators’, you have diabetes or you don’t. There is no evidence this drug works to prevent MI or angina.

    Try again.

    She took a banned performance-enhancer. Drug cheat.

  24. @ Dr Cromarty
    You know what the ECG showed? You’ve been talking to her family doctor who betrayed patient confidences to you?
    And I said “to *prevent* angina”
    FAIL
    Don’t try again,you’re boring.

  25. I think you’re being naive here John. Sportspeople in other countries manage to stay alive without taking the drug – it’s not even licensed by the FDA. Whereas WADA found that 1 in 6 Russians tested were on it. I don’t know about Sharapova specifically, but it’s certain that most of them were using it to enhance performance. (This was in 2015, when it was on WADA’s monitoring list, but not yet banned.)

  26. @john77

    No but they don’t mention troponin which they would have done in proven MI. Try again.

    Likewise, if this was to prevent angina she’d have been investigated into
    the ground – stress tests, coronary angiogram, thallium scans. Very unlikely she’d be playing world class tennis with acute ischaemia. Quite a risky activity.

    There is no good reason she was taking this drug. Not indicated, banned: drug cheat. Got found out.

    Sorry if that upsets you. Tough.

  27. Be much simpler and honest to let all professional sports use whatever drugs the participants wanted to try.

    Full disclosure needed, so that medical science can do some data gathering.

    Amateur sports, nope to dope.

  28. Is there a sport where performance can’t be enhanced by drugs?

    Darts.

    More seriously, I used to argue with a mate of mine about drugs in tennis, and he contended there was no scope for PED in that sport.

    I’d not be surprised if they were in use in cricket, but I’m not sure how they’d help exactly.

  29. Cricket: presumably fast bowlers rely on strength so steroids? Guess batsmen would need strength as well?

    A lot of the drugs used are to aid recovery so it’s difficult to think of a sport that wouldn’t benefit.

  30. Dr Cromarty has read Ms Sharapova’s GP’s notes so that he, and he alone, knows what they mention and do not mention.
    He also knows that Ms Sharapova had a prophetic forecast that the drug would enhance performance half-a-dozen years before other athletes found out.
    Why hasn’t he aided wada with his omniscience before today?

  31. @john77

    Grow up.

    Bottom line- international tennis stars are not, generally speaking cardiac arteriopaths requiring medication. If you know different do tell from your vast clinical experience.

    Oh, and try to develop some common sense before mouthing off. Otherwise you sound like a dick.

  32. @ SJW
    “I think you’re being naive here John.” Yeah, possibly – but if anyone knew in 2006 that it was a PED why has it taken wada ten years to catch up? Why would anyone take a banned drug, knowing it was banned, ahead of a certain drugs test?

  33. Why would anyone take a banned drug, knowing it was banned, ahead of a certain drugs test?

    I don’t know. Why not try asking Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson or Dwain Chambers

  34. @john77:

    “…why has it taken wada ten years to catch up?”

    Not necessarily for this drug, but WADA’s budget is around $40m per year. Look at the money in sports and then think about who is going to be getting the leading edge research.

    One other point: has Sharapova provided proof that she’s been taking this drug for 10 years? People caught doping are known to lie.

  35. “Cricket: presumably fast bowlers rely on strength so steroids? Guess batsmen would need strength as well?”

    No …. an oddity of cricket is that bowlers are no faster than they ever were. Something for stamina would help though, as would something for stamina and focus if you’re a batsman.

  36. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Darts.”

    Beta-blockers. Calms the heart rate and steadies the hand. Also used in snooker.

  37. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 – “but if anyone knew in 2006 that it was a PED why has it taken wada ten years to catch up? Why would anyone take a banned drug, knowing it was banned, ahead of a certain drugs test?”

    Because in the Soviet system, they look at the banned drugs and go and look for something that works but is not banned. This is an amazingly obscure drug. Produced only in the former Soviet Union. Not licenced for use in the West – which raises the obvious question of why Ms Sharapova was taking it. She is a resident of Florida. Where the drug is not approved. In fact she has lived in Florida since 1994. So which family doctor was it and how did he know about this drug?

    Naturally WADA can’t know about all drugs. As soon as they ban something, the athletes will move on to something else. The doctors have every incentive to keep one step ahead of the testers.

    The question is really does she deserve to be punished. If she had the clear intent to improve her performance by taking a legal drug, that is an interesting situation. But athletes improve their performances through diet. What is the difference between taking a legal drug to improve your performance and eating right? How about a protein supplement?

    In the end she took something that got banned and she did not stop taking it. She gets punished.

    It is not just former Soviets. It is also others who have been through the Soviet system:

    Russian ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova announced she had also tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships. Bobrova was “shocked” about the test result, and stated that she had been aware of meldonium’s addition to the banned list (on 1 January 2016) and had been careful to avoid products containing banned substances.[40] Other athletes who are provisionally banned for using meldonium include Swedish Ethiopian-born middle-distance runner Abeba Aregawi,[41] Turkish middle-distance runner Gamze Bulut,[42] Ethiopian long-distance runner Endeshaw Negesse,[43] Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov,[44] and Ukrainian biathletes Olga Abramova[45] and Artem Tyshchenko.[46]

    The exception is the Turk but that probably just implies a Bulgarian or Azerbaijani doctor on the team

  38. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 – “Miss Sharapova was prescribed this by her GP in 2006, long before anyone thought of it as a PED.”

    Or more accurately, Ms Sharapova passed up the chance to see an American doctor and flew back to the former Soviet Union, where she had not lived for twelve years, in order to find a Russian doctor who would prescribe her a drug that is not licenced for medical use in the United States.

    Nothing suspicious about that at all.

  39. @ SMFS
    Miss Sharapova was born in 1987, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
    So your reference to the Soviet system verges on the implausible.
    You ask me “which family doctor?” in one breath and then in the next tell me that it was someone else 10,000 miles away. I am prepared to admit that I don’t know, because I am not part of her family – are you?

  40. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 – “So your reference to the Soviet system verges on the implausible.”

    The Soviet system did not go away. All the people are still there. Look at Putin. Look at their widespread cheating in Track and Field.

    “You ask me “which family doctor?” in one breath and then in the next tell me that it was someone else 10,000 miles away. I am prepared to admit that I don’t know, because I am not part of her family – are you?”

    She cannot have got it in the US because it is not legally allowed to be prescribed there. She can only have got it in the former Soviet Union. Her family doctor, in the sense of the doctor she goes to for day-to-day problems, cannot have given it to her. He lives in Florida. She went out of her way to obtain it.

  41. So Much For Subtlety

    john77 – “I am prepared to admit that I don’t know, because I am not part of her family – are you?”

    I am happy to admit what I don’t know. “Family doctor” is such an interesting term. You might think she had been coached.

    In the end this is simple. I don’t need to convict her. She has been found guilty. She needs to prove that there is a good reason to lift the ban. She needs to show how she is being hard done by and is, in fact, innocent. How she somehow innocently got on a plane, flew to Russia and took a drug that has been banned because it was being abused as a performance enhancer. For ten years.

    I don’t quite think she has got there yet. I don’t think she will be able to.

  42. Even if she did use it to enhance performance hasn’t she technically been cheating only since the start of the year? Not like she won anything using it when it was illegal. My bet is she was legally using it to enhance performance and didn’t realize it was banned now.

    Also for how long is it detectable? Take it on Dec 31 and tested on Jan 1 do you get the ban?

  43. Top-level athletes get a lot more screening than most of us. They also stress their bodies a lot harder than any of us do.

    This means that conditions that go unnoticed in us, and, even if they were noticed, would be left alone as being entirely non-harmful, are picked up, and treated when they occur in them.

    Suppose you have a minor heart condition. You’ll probably not get a scan that will pick it up, and even if you do, you’ll be fine. Now suppose you’re an elite athlete with the same minor heart condition. You’d better be on medication or else you’re going to have a heart attack while playing someday. Remember Marc Viven Foé?

    This is why a lot of sports people take a bucket-full of drugs. Because drugs have side-effects, some of those side-effects are performance-enhancing. The whole reason that TUEs exist is so that a drug that has a real medical use and a performance-enhancing side-effect can be permitted in people that need it for the actual medical use.

    If Sharapova was taking this drug for ten years, and then it was banned, then she should have applied for a TUE when it was banned (which would probably have been granted).

    But she didn’t and she should be banned for that reason alone – administrative cock-ups fall on the athlete and should be treated by the system as being the same as taking the drug intentionally, because otherwise everyone will claim an administrative cock-up when they get caught, and trying to operate a court system for intent without adequate investigative powers (can’t compel witnesses, for example) is asking for failure.

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