Maria Sharapova is so meticulous, that according to her agent, former Eastern player Max Eisenbud, she would "peel off the label on the water bottle that she was drinking so photographers couldn't snap a picture that might look like a product endorsement."
In a press conference to reveal her positive drug test for Meldonium, she announced taking "full responsibility" for "making a mistake" as if we are to believe this was a singular mistake that happened because like many of us she was just a little too impatient to read the fine print. Let's keep in mind that this "oversight" was in taking a drug indicated for heart disease for a six- to eight-week course. Sharapova was given this drug for 10 years for conditions she described that include "frequent flu” and "a family history of diabetes."
Yes, Meldonium was just banned as a performance enhancer on Jan. 1, 2016, but it was known as a performance enhancer and frequently used by Eastern European and Russian athletes, as well as the military to increase stamina for many years.
Sharapova has been the highest earning female athlete in the world for a decade by being a savvy businessperson and surrounding herself with equally savvy and skilled people. Let's not engage in denial. This was not an oversight. Sharapova was not being "courageous" as another top female player suggested for coming forward. Her admission was highly calculated and highly suspect. Maybe this is the tip of a giant iceberg of a systemic problem that I have been talking about for many years. Or maybe it is just an isolated incident. It was not, however, a careless oversight … it was cheating.
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.