Tennis player Sharapova's doping controversy

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January. The substance is used in drugs for treating heart disease and has been on doping agency Wada's list of forbidden substances since the start of the year. Commentators say Sharapova's case raises many questions.

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Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Sharapova victim of a new Cold War

Maria Sharapova's doping exposure was planned long in advance and is part of a new Cold War playing out in international sport, the conservative daily Magyar Nemzet suspects:

“The hunt for doping sinners was never a fight for the purity of top-class sport. It is about a web of interests and secret deals in a hypocritical world. … By displaying its prowess in foreign policy, military technology, science and sport Russia has inevitably made enemies. With its super-power ambitions and political and military actionism (Crimea, Syria) Russia has provoked a campaign against itself. … Sport was already a war zone back in Soviet times, and now it is once again. … Last year several Russian athletes fell victim to this war. Now it has claimed Russia's biggest star, Sharapova.”

Diena (LV) /

Latvia should be proud of meldonium inventor

Latvian biochemist Ivars Kalviņš has criticised Wada for classifying meldonium, which he developed for the medication Mildronate, as a performance-enhancing drug. Latvia's government should back Kalviņš, the liberal daily Diena urges:

“Latvia and its most successful medication Mildronate no doubt topped the Google hit list last week. And all thanks to one of our scientists' and pharmaceutical industry's greatest achievements. ... Wada has attacked our country's most important scientific institute. Reading the reports you'd think Professor Kalviņš developed the medicine in a secret Soviet military lab with the intention of helping former Soviet athletes to achieve unfair victories. ... It is sad that the Latvian state has remained silent on the issue. Not so long ago the highest officials in our country were posing next to Kalviņš for the cameras. ... The appropriate reaction would be to denounce the ban on meldonium. But so far only the biochemist and the company that produces the drug have reacted accordingly.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

An unnecessary risk

Why didn't Maria Sharapova stop taking meldonium when it was banned at the start of the year? the liberal daily Savon Sanomat asks:

“In November the anti-doping agency Wada exposed the systematic doping of Russian track and field athletes, whose roots reach back as far as the secret service FSB. That said, tennis is a sport that demands skill, and performance-enhancing drugs are less effective here than in disciplines requiring endurance or speed. Consequently Sharapova ran a huge risk by taking meldonium after it was banned. The four-time grand-slam winner is now rightly facing a ban on playing as well as the loss of many millions of euros in sponsorship money.”

Ziare (RO) /

The swamp won't be drained

Sharapova won't face serious consequences, the news portal Ziare believes:

“Maria Sharapova has admitted that for the past ten years she's been taking medication containing meldonium - on her doctor's recommendation. Since 2006 she has won four grand slam titles. ... Was this explosion in her performance due to the banned substance? Even if she was taking meldonium for medical reasons, it clearly boosted her performance. So shouldn't her victories of the past decade be annulled? It's hard to imagine that it will ever come to that. ... Instead she will no doubt have to pay a relatively small fine, and continue her career without any major losses. The fight against corruption in tennis would be more credible, however, if such a big 'fish' were caught and punished.”