Sharapova's lawyer hits out at Wada chief's remarks

NEW YORK • Maria Sharapova's lawyer has blasted World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) chief Craig Reedie for making remarks about the five-time Grand Slam tennis champion at a conference in London on Monday, and said the Russian star is owed an apology.

The criticism came in a statement by Sharapova's management company, IMG, after Reedie commented at a Wada conference on Sharapova, who is serving a two-year ban after testing positive for the prohibited substance meldonium.

"For me, the only satisfactory element in Sharapova's case was that in one year, she can earn more money than the whole of Wada's budget put together," Reedie said.

He made his comments relating to Sharapova as he was making a call for more governments and television broadcasters to pitch in extra money to support Wada's campaign for clean sport.

Sharapova's lawyer, John Haggerty, took exception to Reedie's comments, which he called unprofessional.

"Justice, whether in the eyes of Wada or a court, must be blind, including being blind to a player's earnings," Haggerty said in a statement.

"Mr Reedie owes an apology to Maria and to all successful tennis players unless he wants fans to think Wada has different standards for players depending on their ranking and earnings."

Wada clarified that Reedie's comments at its annual Media Symposium were made in the context of a debate on further funding for clean sport and drew comparisons between its annual budget and the earnings of various sportsmen and women.

"His comments have absolutely no bearing on any particular anti-doping case," said Wada spokesman Ben Nichols.

Sharapova, 29, had been the highest-paid woman in sport for the last 11 years, until her reign ended shortly after news of her positive test earlier this year.

She is now second on Forbes' list of the highest-paid female athletes, behind fellow tennis player Serena Williams, with combined prize money and off-field earnings of US$28.9 million (S$38.8 million) over the last 12 months.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'Sharapova's lawyer hits out at Wada chief's remarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe