Sharapova blames ITF for not warning her earlier

LONDON • Maria Sharapova has criticised the tennis authorities for not doing enough to warn her that the drug she was banned for taking had been made illegal.

In her first full interview since the ban, she told The Times of London that she was ultimately responsible for failing the dope test and had become "complacent", but also put blame on the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The Russian, whose 15-month ban ends on April 26, tested positive at last year's Australian Open for meldonium, which had been put on the prohibited list by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) just weeks earlier at the start of 2016.

In the interview, she said that the tennis authorities knew she was taking the drug when she played in the Fed Cup in November 2015.

Sharapova feels she should have been given more guidance by them. "Why didn't someone come up to me and have a private conversation, just an official to an athlete, which would have taken care of the confidentiality problem they talked about later?" she asked.

At that point Wada was monitoring the supplement, which is sold under the trade name Mildronate.

After it was put on the banned list, e-mails were sent to players from Wada, the ITF and the Women's Tennis Association.

Sharapova admitted that her advisers could have warned her that the substance was illegal, but added: "Ultimately the fault was mine. I had been getting clearance on everything I was taking for seven years and I became complacent."

She said that she started taking meldonium after winning Wimbledon in 2004. "I was getting colds and flu and it started to affect my body," she said. "So I was taken to a doctor in Moscow... He gave me about 10 supplements to take, one of which was Mildronate."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Sharapova blames ITF for not warning her earlier'. Print Edition | Subscribe