They don’t send registered mail anymore, do they?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), apparently does not, opting instead for e-mail that it perhaps thought could substitute for registered mail in a non-virtual world.
Had the supreme arbiter of who’s clean and who’s not in all sports worldwide used the old-fashioned way of sending letters and other forms of communication via registered mail, it would have saved itself from a huge controversy involving Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova.
Sharapova, the glamorous former world No. 1, on March 7 announced that she had failed a drug test in January this year at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2016 and which she won in 2008.
In doing so, she perhaps gained a few points for honesty, unlike others similarly accused before her in tennis and other disciplines who had tried to duck accusations, sought pricey legal advice or lied with a straight face.
The “culprit” in Sharapova’s case?
Meldonium, which she said she had used for the past decade–meaning since 2006 when she captured the US Open for her second Grand Slam crown at the age of 19–to treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.
The anti-doping body, according to Agence France Presse article, citing a The Times of London (The Times) report, issued communications in September that the substance was to be added to the banned list from January 1, 2016.
Since the alleged doping case surfaced, Sharapova seemed to just watch how her case would fan out, until The Times last March 9 claimed the Russian, 28, had “received” five separate notifications that meldonium was to be banned.
Three “correspondences,” according to the newspaper, had been sent by the International Tennis Federation [ITF] and two from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
The Times, by using the word “received,” seemed to state as fact that Sharapova had actually got hold of the five notifications, only one of which was cited by the AFP report as having been sent via e-mail.
How the other four notifications got to land at Sharapova’s doorstep, if at all they did, the newspaper did not say.
The Times also did not say if it had obtained a copy of each of the five correspondences or at least seen a copy of each, either of which journalistic must-do would have made its article accurate or at least reasonably believable.
Still, it insisted that the “warnings” from the ITF and WTA arrived in December, with the final reminder sent and supposedly received by Sharapova on December 29.
The Russian, in a post to her fans on her Facebook page, said on December 18 she indeed “received an e-mail titled ‘Player News’ and mixed in with rankings, tournament news, bulletins and birthday wishes was the notification of changes to anti-doping rules.”
“In other words, in order to be aware of this ‘warning,’ you had to open an e-mail with a subject line having nothing to do with [the]anti-doping [rules], click on a web page, enter a password, enter a username, hunt, click, hunt, click, hunt, click, scroll and read,” she was quoted as saying in the AFP report culled from The Times story.
“I guess some in the media can call that a warning. I think most people would call it too hard to find,” the Russian was further quoted by the same wire report.
Sharapova offered “no excuses” but said it was “wrong” to say she had been warned five times.”
This particular warning was titled “Main Changes to the Tennis Anti-Doping Program for 2016.”
WADA could have just sent it via registered mail, unless of course it thinks that its friendly neighborhood post office has gone the way of the dinosaurs.