The tennis world is currently facing a monumental challenge after tennis superstar Maria Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium during a routine drug test, tagged as “the biggest operation ever mounted in tennis” by this news article. The drug has long been included in the list of prohibited drugs, but Sharapova said she did not know about it. In fact, she has been using it for 10 years for therapeutic purposes.
Meldonium, a drug common to sports world is intended to enhance the flow of blood. It is medically administered to treat ischemia or the lack of blood flow. The drug was included in the list of prohibited substances because according to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), there was evidence that athletes take it to enhance performance.
As a response to the massive drug debacle facing practically all sporting leagues, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ordered the Biological Passport to take effect at the elite level of the sport by September last year. In line with the goal of developing the sport’s biological passport program, anyone who played a singles match at the Australian Open in Melbourne was required to undergo a blood test. More extensive random tests took place during one of the events, and it was through the urine testing where Sharapova hit a snag. Her case is to be heard by the end of the month.
The elevation in stringency of drug screening procedures has shook the tennis industry, and this may just be the start of potentially catching other tennis players who are taking performance-enhancing drugs – knowingly or not.