British Olympian Susan Egelstaff has defended Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova. Maria recently announced she failed a drug test at the Australian Open earlier this year. The tennis star said she started using Meldonium in 2006 for health reasons. Meldonium is medically prescribed for treating Ischemia, a lack of blood flow. However, use of this substance can give athletes an increased ability for exercise.
A former World No. 1, Sharapova is currently ranked 7th in the world. The 28-year-old has 35 singles titles and five Grand Slams and is ranked third among active players behind Venus and Serena William. The Russian professional tennis player won the French Open twice and Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Open once apiece, that made her one of only ten women and the only Russian woman to hold the career Grand Slam. She won at least one singles title every year from 2003 to 2015 and Sharapova has played in 733 career matches and won 80 percent of them for $36 million in career on-court earnings. Maria Sharapova has been the highest-paid female athlete in the world 11 years running. Sharapova indicated she would not announce her retirement and would like to play again soon.
Egelstaff, a badminton player, says the former world number one should not be judged by sport's 'morality police' after Maria admitted she had been taking the recently-banned drug Meldonium for 10 years before it was banned.
In her defense, Maria Sharapova claimed she had not read an email saying Meldonium had been added to WADA's list of banned substances.
Egelstaff said Maria has been unfairly accused of acting against the spirit of sport. Egelstaff added the backlash when Maria Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium was immediate and fierce. The British player said the outcry focused more on the fact she had been taking Meldonium, reportedly prescribed by a doctor for a decade without an apparent medical need for the drug, rather than the fact she failed a doping test. Egelstaff, a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in 2006, further said the morality police were out in force to decry Sharapova for taking a drug for its performance-enhancing qualities. Egelstaff went on to say that this condemnation amazed and frankly stupefied her and added there was a remarkable number of people who believed themselves qualified to judge what is morally acceptable in sport.
Egelstaff went on to argue that there is no difference between athletes who make use of Meldonium to boost aerobic performance and the use of other legal treatments. The British Olympian added she had severe pain in her foot during qualification rounds for the London 2012 Olympics and received a cortisone injection and she was completely pain-free within 24 hours. Egelstaff added this injection was, indisputably, performance-enhancing and she is not sure if she could have continued playing without it and she qualified for Team GB after receiving the injection. Egelstaff also remarked she didn't feel the tiniest pang of guilt about having the injection and neither should she as it was legal after all.