Murray insists Sharapova has no valid excuse

LONDON • Andy Murray maintained his hardline stance on Maria Sharapova's conviction for taking a banned substance - on the day the Russian tennis player announced her appeal against the two-year ban handed down a week ago.

Speaking on Tuesday after he advanced to the second round at Queen's Club with a two-set win over the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, the world No. 2 said: "My thoughts haven't changed really from March (when he condemned the Russian for failing a drug test at the Australian Open).

"I do feel if you're cheating and are caught, and you are gaining advantage on your opponents, then you have to be punished for that."

Nor would he accept it as a defence for athletes to claim they were ignorant of what drugs they were taking, banned or not.

"I don't really see that as being a valid excuse. If you're taking any medication, it's your responsibility as the athlete to check and make sure what you're taking is legal," he said.

The Briton said he would not entrust his management to monitor what he took, either - as Sharapova has done with her agent, Max Eisenbud, who claimed he did not alert the player to a warning about the banned drug meldonium because he was holidaying during a personal crisis and did not see the e-mail messages from the International Tennis Federation.

THE BUCK STOPS HERE

If you're taking any medication, it's your responsibility as the athlete to check and make sure what you're taking is legal.

ANDY MURRAY, on athletes claiming that they are ignorant of whether the drugs they are taking are banned or not.

"No, Dr (Michael) Turner, who works at the Lawn Tennis Association, (would inspect any drug he took). I only take an anti-inflammatory now and then if I'm having problems with my back or my hips. But he would be the guy I would speak to about that, for sure."

Murray declined to say if Sharapova should be allowed to compete at the Olympics if her appeal, to be heard on or before July 18, were successful in overturning her conviction.

"It's not up to me to decide what's appropriate or not. That's up to whoever the governing body is, and I guess it's CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) who are looking into it now, and they will come to a decision," he said.

On Tuesday, while Murray welcomed back coach Ivan Lendl with a 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-1) win over the 34-year-old world No. 51 Mahut, world No. 5 Stan Wawrinka's new union with adviser Richard Krajicek got off to the worst possible start. The Swiss lost 2-6, 6-7 (3-7) to Spain's Fernando Verdasco .

"It's great to have him (Lendl) back as part of the team," Murray said later. "When we were chatting before the match, it didn't feel strange. It felt like it did before."

They split in March 2014 and got back together again on Saturday.

"I expect Ivan to have a positive impact on me and my whole team. Whether that happens in three days or a few months, I have no idea. But I trust and believe in what he says, and that can obviously help immediately," Murray said.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Murray insists Sharapova has no valid excuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe