Friday, June 10, 2016

Maria 'Shriekapova' shirks the truth of the real issue here

Maria Sharapova says she is relieved she was not found to have intentionally deceived anyone even though she suppressed her use of Meldonium from people close to her.

No, it wasn't a banned substance until this year but the experts say it gives someone a physiological edge - therefore it was performance-enhancing. The issues seem therefore to be issues of integrity and ethics rather than legality.

It is not unlawful to emit noises when one is playing tennis. But tennis aficionados tell me (and the closest I've ever got to a tennis ball was to stand on one and break my foot) is that depending on the shot played, the sound coming off the racket is different. Now my mind boggles at the thought someone could listen for the sound of the ball and adjust their stroke-making accordingly, but I’m not a top 20 tennis player. I am the best player to NEVER play the game.

But just indulge me. If, let's say, it’s not illegal to make noises when playing sport, but you shriek loudly enough (at 101 decibels) to suppress the sound of the ball coming off the racket, might that give you an unethical advantage?

And then let's say Meldonium is mostly used by angina sufferers but as far as I know, this young elite athlete hasn't ever admitted to suffering from angina.

And then let's say that for those usual users, the drug improves quality of life capacity. Exercise capacity? Hmmm… I suppose that could be useful to an elite tennis player either in training, competition, perhaps in tournaments played in high altitude locations. Hmmm again…

And then let's try to be fair and remember Meldonium was only banned from 1 January this year and is prescribed entirely legally (again mostly for those with heart conditions) in Eastern Europe.

But the American Food and Drug Administration in the US has never approved Meldonium as a medicine.

And Shriekapova has been living in the US since 1994.

In equal opportunity law and OH&S law, our intent is irrelevant. It is our impact that counts. And if tennis wants a clean reputation, then intent shouldn't rate.

I took some rare time out this morning and went shopping with my beautiful sister. Luckily she managed to brake, swerve and avoid hitting the clearly drug affected woman who stepped straight into a busy intersection with her frightened, angry and verbally abusive partner following her instinctively into the chaos to grab her. It doesn't matter that we desperately wanted to avoid injuring this young woman and braked hard to miss her. Had we unintentionally hit either of them with our vehicle, the impact on her, her partner, and yes, for us, would have been devastating.

Some of the sponsors have stayed with Shriekapova because any publicity is good publicity. Others have abandoned her and yet another high profile sponsor has curiously reversed its position and continued to “partner” with her.

You get the culture you deserve. You get the behaviour you’re prepared to tolerate.