Andy Murray has told Maria Sharapova she must accept any ban that is handed out by the International Tennis Federation after the former world No 1 admitted on Monday she had failed a drugs test.
“It’s not up to me to decide the punishment, but if you’re taking performance-enhancing drugs and you fail a drugs test, you have to get suspended,” Murray said yesterday in Indian Wells, where he is playing in the BNP Paribas Masters.
Sharapova failed a test in January for Meldonium, a drug used to help heart conditions, which went on the proscribed list at the start of the year.
Murray said it was ethically wrong to take a drug just for performance. “I think taking a prescription drug that you don’t necessarily need, but just because it’s legal, that’s wrong, clearly. That’s wrong. If you’re taking a prescription drug and you’re not using it for what that drug was meant for, then you don’t need it, so you’re just using it for the performance-enhancing benefits that drug is giving you. And I don’t think that that’s right.”
Murray cast doubt on the validity of Sharapova’s statement that she took Meldonium for a series of health reasons. “I read that 55 athletes have failed tests for that substance since 1 January,” he said. “You just don’t expect high-level athletes at the top of many sports to have heart conditions.”
Murray also said he was disappointed with a statement by tennis equipment firm Head that it is to stand by Sharapova and even extend her contract. “I think it’s a strange stance, given everything that’s happened the last few days,” he said. “I don’t really know what else to say on that, but that’s not something I believe. 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 wouldn’t have responded like that.”
Taking a prescription drug that you don’t necessarily need, but just as it’s legal, that’s wrong
The Scott thought it was good that it was “out in the open” but said Sharapova should have known what she was taking. “Some people put a lot of trust in the team around them so it’s hard to say what’s the right thing for everyone, but it’s almost kind of part of her job to know everything that’s going into her body and not just rely on what a doctor is saying or a physio is saying,” he said. “You check yourself to make sure, double-check to make sure, that anything that’s going into your body is safe.
“I think all sports can do more,” he said. “It’s better than it was a few years ago, last year I got tested a lot but this year I’ve been tested twice so far this year, three months into the year, which is clearly not enough.”
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