“I was born a warrior,” Maria Sharapova said after the Committee for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) a few days ago reduced her two-year ban for “doping” to 15 months.
The reduction makes the glamorous Russian tennis superstar eligible to play again in April 2017.
Is Maria happy with the committee’s decision?
Not on your double fault, she is not.
Under the rules of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), Sharapova said, she should get only a one-year suspension for “illegally” taking meldonium (an aspirin) but the federation originally wanted to penalize her with four years!
Grudgingly relenting, the ITF, the world governing body of men’s and women’s tennis, still insisted on two years, eventually agreeing to 15 months, a span that the CAS had tossed to them.
Even then, Sharapova said the CAS was “not neutral,” made up as it is of people whom she “had a fight with.”
The committee cited the five-time Grand Slam winner having not tried to intentionally “cheat,” thus the one year and three months’ suspension, which is nowhere near the 12 months under the federation’s rules.
Sharapova said she has been taking meldonium for 10 years since she was 18—under medical supervision—until the ITF banned it in the first week of January this year.
She, however, admitted to have taken for “granted” keeping track of what’s prohibited, what’s not, precisely because meldonium is just, well, aspirin, or paracetamol.
When Sharapova was asked on television if she was affected by netizens calling her names over the controversy swirling around her golden hair, she replied that one can be called a lot of what they are not in cyber space.
When also asked if she was prepared to be “booed” when she returns to the tennis court, the Russian beauty laughed the question off, saying she had been booed before, so what else is new?
Just like what the equally beautiful and glamorous Angie Dickinson once said: “You know my story. I’m pretty.”
What is new and news is that Head has stood by Sharapova, an endorser of the giant company’s tennis rackets and stuff, from Day 1 of her coming forward to announce the ITF ban.
A Head executive even surmised that its brand ambassador’s case smacked of “Russia bashing,” her native Russia having been under the microscope for reported “organized” doping.
Sharapova is 29 and Leila de Lima is much, much older but de Lima could learn a point or two from the Russian on how to face the music and coming clean about real or imagined allegations.
The Russian was honest about what had really happened that led to her suspension.
De Lima, however, is reported to have apparently hemmed and hewed on dealing with drug accusations against her.
But then, she is no sports woman like Sharapova, who said she does not want to end her illustrious career with the nagging suspicion that she once became the No. 1 woman tennis player in the world only because of, well, again aspirin.
Leila de Lima is a scarf woman.