Maria Sharapova is “starting to believe” that the International Tennis Federation tried to make an example of her by handing her a two-year ban for testing positive for meldonium. The suspension was eventually cut to 15 months after Sharapova appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.Sharapova’s two-year doping ban has been reduced to 15 months following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The five-time Grand Slam winner, 29, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.The Russian will be able to return to the tennis court on 26 April, 2017.“I am counting the days until I can return,” she said.“In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it.”Meldonium, a heart disease drug also known as mildronate, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.Sharapova said she had been taking the drug since 2006 for health problems and had “not tried to use a performance-enhancing substance”.She said she was unaware the drug had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) banned list and could not “accept” the “unfairly harsh” ban.The Cas panel said it found Sharapova’s case “was not about an athlete who cheated”, adding she was not an “intentional doper”.However, it said Sharapova was at fault for not giving her agent “adequate instructions” about Wada’s prohibited list.The tribunal ruling said Sharapova tested positive for meldonium after her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on 26 January and in an out-of-competition test on 2 February.Cas treated both results as a single anti-doping violation.Sharapova won the Wimbledon singles title as a 17-year-old in 2004, going on to win the Australian, French and US Opens to complete a career Grand Slam.However, she has not played professional tennis since losing to 22-time Grand Slam champion Williams.“I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days,” she said.“I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last 10 years was no longer allowed.“But I also learned how much better other federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where mildronate is commonly taken by millions of people.“Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through.”Why was the ban reduced?Sharapova appealed against the original two-year ban on the grounds there was “no significant fault or negligence” on her part.The Cas panel accepted her claim of no significant fault, saying she had a reduced perception of the risk she was incurring by taking mildronate.That was because:• She had used mildronate for 10 years without any anti-doping issue• She did not seek treatment from her doctor, Anatoly Skalny, to obtain a performance-enhancing product, but used it only for medical reasons• No specific warning had been issued by Wada, the ITF or the WTA about a change in the status of meldonium• She took a public position acknowledging that she took meldonium and accepted responsibilityCas said the sanction should be reduced to 15 months “based on its analysis of Sharapova’s degree of fault”.It said Sharapova “fell short” because:• She failed to monitor or supervise how her agent “met the anti-doping obligations imposed on an athlete”• She failed to discuss with her agent, Max Eisenbud, what needed to be done to check the continued availability of mildronate• She failed to put Eisenbud in contact with Dr Skalny to check if the product had not been added to Wada’s prohibited listThe panel added an athlete cannot “simply delegate her obligations to a third party and then not otherwise provide appropriate instructions, monitoring or supervision without bearing responsibility”.Sharapova can return to action before the French Open in May 2017 because her ban is backdated to the date of her first positive test on 26 January, 2016.But with her world ranking dropping to 95 since her last appearance – and going to fall further – she will need to be awarded a wildcard to play at Roland GarrosSponsor reactionRacquet manufacturer Head, which extended its contract with Sharapova despite her positive test, congratulated her after the ban was reduced.The company’s chief executive, Johan Eliasch, said “justice had been served” and called the original ITF decision “wholly unfair”.Nike suspended its relationship with Sharapova in March, before saying it would stand by her following the tribunal’s findings in June.Car manufacturer Porsche said it would wait to see the outcome of her appeal, while Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer cut ties with her in March.Sharapova was the highest-paid female athlete for 11 consecutive years according to Forbes, until Williams moved above her this year.The latest Forbes figures have Sharapova’s winnings and endorsements at £17.1m, compared with £22.6m for Williams. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
GREG DIXON/Herald photoThe No. 21 UW men’s soccer team has jumped out to one of its best starts in recent years with a 4-1-1 record. Much of its success has come from the leadership and skill of junior midfielder, Pablo Delgado.Delgado has already earned honors as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Offensive MVP of this year’s Middleton Sports and Fitness Invitational. Delgado, a native of Madrid, was playing Third Division soccer when he decided to make his move to the States. With his former Spanish teammate, senior forward Victor Diaz, senior forward, at UW, Delgado decided to follow him a year later. Diaz encouraged Delgado to come to Madison, citing its great atmosphere, education and soccer program.“It’s important to have [a degree] on your back,” Delgado said. “I thought that the best thing would be to get my degree and also to play at a top level.”But that’s not to say he doesn’t miss home.“Of course you miss your family, your friends, your bed,” Delgado said. “But the life here is great. I cannot complain.”Since setting foot on campus, Delgado has gained a lot of confidence, an education and a broader view of the world.“My mind was opened. I’m open to whatever. I can go anywhere right now,” he said. Delgado has shined offensively in the beginning of the season, scoring two crucial goals and tallying three assists in his first six starts. He is also fifth in the team in minutes played. Head coach Jeff Rohrman has credited this to his work ethic and his playing in a more offensive position this year.“He has very good attacking qualities but also a willingness to work on the defensive side,” Rohrman said of his Spanish star. “And we’ve been playing him a little bit closer to the goal this year.”Delgado credits his success to being fully healthy, after an injury-ridden sophomore year, and the team’s commitment to play together.“It’s great, I feel good, but what matters is the team,” Delgado said.Diaz feels the same way.“There’s great chemistry. Everyone’s working together towards the same goal, and that’s the most important thing,” Diaz said.Delgado’s contributions not only come from helping his team on the field but off it as well. Being the oldest and most experienced member of the team, Rohrman has referred to him as “the father of the team.”“He’s a quiet leader,” Rohrman said. “He brings maturity and calmness to the group.”Rohrman has been very impressed by Pablo’s willingness to soak in all the life at Madison as well.“The academics, campus life — he’s taking full advantage of it,” Rohrman said. “He brings a real refreshing view.”
Daily Trojan file photoThirty-five doctoral students from the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work met with administrators Monday to discuss how the school can move forward following a recent sexual harassment lawsuit against a professor at the school. The students met with Vice Provost Martin Levine and Marilyn Flynn, the dean of the school, to present a statement with requests for Flynn to address in relation to the recent sexual harassment claims against a social work professor.“We are pleased that Dean Flynn has agreed to partner with us in achieving our goal of confronting the unspoken grand challenge of ending sexual misconduct and abuse of power at our University and providing an example of institutional leadership on this issue,” the group of students said in a letter addressed to the Dworak-Peck community.The letter said that they have partnered with Flynn to “confront the unspoken grand challenge of ending sexual misconduct and abuse of power” at USC.It also said that Flynn agreed to directly acknowledge the harassment that Karissa Fenwick, a student who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit last week against Professor Erick Guerrero and the University, said she experienced. It stated Flynn pledged to create a committee to review the policies at the University and specifically at the School of Social Work.The group said that the group will continue to work to advocate to administrators that they need to reconsider the sanctions against Guerrero and “develop policy recommendations to improve transparency, institutional culture, and reporting and enforcement mechanisms.” Provost Michael Quick also sent a memo to the USC community on Sunday night, calling for similar steps to be taken by students and staff members alike to create a culture of respect and zero tolerance against abuses of power, though Guerrero and Fenwick were not named.“We ask that each one of us take time over the next several days to reflect on our own past experiences and choices, and examine what roles each of us can play going forward that will make USC, and our larger society, fair, equitable, and free from harassment,” Quick wrote.The memo also addressed, in general terms, the abuse of power and recent sexual harassment cases at USC. “If we do not have equity, and inclusion, and opportunity — for everyone — then not only are we harming people, we are not maximizing our potential as a university,” Quick wrote. “That is a waste of our intellectual talent, and it limits our future at a time when we can ill afford it.”Quick also called for the deans of the different to hold forums for students to speak about “creating a culture of respect.” He said deans will report back to him with steps in improving the general culture at the school.