Maria Sharapova male colleagues Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have come hard on the tennis star saying she must be punished and banned from the sport, after she admitted on Monday to failing a drug test in the last Australian Open.
The Russian athlete is set to be provisionally banned from Tennis on Saturday, but the extent of the ban is yet to be unclear, with any suspension above two years effectively ending her career.
But Rafael Nadal who says he has used stem-cell therapy and blood thinning in the past to speed his injury recovery says she must be banned from the sport while Britain’s number one Tennis player Andy Murray says she must be banned for using performance enhancing drugs while also criticizing her racket sponsor, HEADS, for standing by Sharapova.
14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal said:
“I am a completely clean guy. I have never had the temptation of doing something wrong. I believe in the sport and the values of the sport. The sport is an example for society. It is an example for the kids and if I am doing something that goes against that, I will be lying to myself, not lying to my opponents.” “I have been open all my career,” he said. “I never tried to hide nothing that I did. I did PRP and then I did stem cells. The first time with PRP it worked fantastic and the second time it was bad. I had to stop playing tennis for seven months. With stem cells, I used it two times on my knees and it worked very well. I am not doing, never did, and never going to do something wrong.” “It’s terrible because the sport must be clean and must look clean. It is difficult to imagine that something like this can happen, but mistakes happen. She should be punished. I want to believe it is a mistake for Maria. She didn’t want to do it. But obviously it is negligence. She must pay for it.”
Andy Murray said:
“Clearly if you are taking performance-enhancing drugs and you fail a drugs test, you have to get suspended. I think since 1 January there have been 55 different athletes who have failed tests for meldonium. I find it strange that there’s a prescription drug used for heart conditions and so many athletes competing at the top level of their sport would have that condition. That sounds a bit off to me.”
Andy Murray also criticized HEAD, who also manufacture his racket, for standing by Sharapova and saying they will extend her contract despite other sponsors Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche severing their relationship with the tennis star.
“I think it’s a strange stance given everything that’s happened the last few days. I don’t really know what else to say on that, but that’s not something I believe. I think at this stage it’s important really to get hold of the facts and let things play out, like more information coming out before making a decision to extend the contract like that, in my view. I personally wouldn’t have responded like that.”