Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 30th 2017 Contents A54 sports
guardian.co.tt Thursday, March 30, 2017
Sharapova proud of
her passion, integrity
Maria Sharapova realised
her tennis career could be
ended by what she claims
was an accidental doping
violation, the former world
No 1 decided she had to fight.
"When you love what you
do, and you do it with passion
and integrity ... then you know
what you stand for and who you
are, and that's why I fought so
hard to get that back," Shara-
Sharapova believes she tri-
umphed over injustice when she
managed to get her doping ban
reduced to 15 months last Octo-
ber. The five-time Slam winner
plans to return to competition
next month at Stuttgart.
Although the Russian-born
Sharapova realizes she's closer
to the end of her career than the
beginning, she told a women's
sports conference Tuesday that
she couldn't accept the initial
two-year suspension levied by
the International Tennis Feder-
ation. The Court of Arbitration
for Sport reduced her ban.
One of the world's wealthiest
and best-known female athletes
has been idle since the 2016
Australian Open, where she
tested positive for meldonium,
an over-the-counter Latvian
drug of dubious cardiac benefit.
The substance was banned by
the World Anti-Doping Agency
earlier that year, but Sharapo-
va claims she missed the memo
instructing her to stop using it
after 10 years.
"You always want to end your
career or a chapter in your life on
your terms and in your voice,"
Sharapova said. "And to be in a
moment where you felt like it
could have ended on someone
else's terms was very difficult
for me to accept. That's why I
fought so hard for the truth to be
out. You don't realize how much
you love something, how much
something means to you, until
you lose it for some time."
Sharapova took questions
only from moderator Julie Foudy
at the ANA Inspiring Women in
Sports Conference, a gather-
ing of athletes and prominent
professionals preceding the
LPGA's first major of the season
at Mission Hills Country Club.
The conference was produced
by IMG, the sports and enter-
tainment conglomerate that
Despite the tightly controlled
nature of Sharapova's appear-
ance, she went into detail on
many aspects of her life during
her suspension. While trave-
ling extensively with friends
and eating countless dinners
with family, she also dabbled
in university classes at Harvard
and in London, and she served
brief internships everywhere
from Nike to the NBA, where
she shadowed Commissioner
"I learned that life is OK with-
out tennis," Sharapova said.
"Life can be OK, which is a scary
thought, because when you've
done something for so long, you
always think of, 'Well, how am I
going to feel when I don't have
that?' It gave me a chance to
realize that you're the one that
creates your life, and you create
your own opportunities."
Sharapova also revealed she
has been training intensely for
four months to get her momen-
tum back. Tuesday was a rare
day off, thanks to her trip from
her beachside home near Los
Angeles to the desert.
"In tennis, you lose a lot of
hand-eye coordination," Shara-
pova said. "Practice is never the
same as match play. It's really
different to face someone on the
other side of the net. It's a very
Sharapova will return as a wild
card entry in Stuttgart's Porsche
Tennis Grand Prix, a tournament
she won three consecutive times
from 2012-14 before Angelique
Kerber won the past two.
Sharapova's suspension ends
on the third full day of play at the
tournament, and she won't be
allowed even to set foot in Por-
sche Arena before W April 26,
the day of her first match.
Women's No 1 Kerber,
Dominika Cibulkova and
men's No 1 Andy Murray are
among several players angered
by Sharapova being allowed to
resume her career in main draws
without playing her way back
The question will receive even
more scrutiny when the French
Open and possibly Wimbledon
must decide whether to give a
free pass to Sharapova, a former
champion of both events. (AP)
Injured Monfils to miss
France's Davis Cup quarters
PARIS---Gael Monfils has withdrawn from France's
Davis Cup quarterfinal against Britain next month
because of injuries to his left knee and Achilles ten-
The French tennis federation said in a statement yes-
terday that Pierre-Hugues Herbert was also ruled out of
the clay-court series in Rouen from April 7-9 because of
a right thigh injury. France captain Yannick Noah called
up Julien Benneteau and Jeremy Chardy to replace them
in his squad.
Noah was aware of Monfils' injuries when he named
him as a substitute on Tuesday, but was hopeful that the
player would recover and play.
France will also be without Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rich-
ard Gasquet. Noah said that Tsonga lacks match fitness
and is not ready to play following the birth of his first
child. Gasquet is still recovering from appendix surgery.
Benneteau and Chardy are joining Nicolas Mahut, Lucas
Pouille and Gilles Simon in the France team.
Britain captain Leon Davis said on Tuesday that top-
ranked Andy Murray will also miss the series because of
an elbow injury. It will be the first time that France and
Britain face off on clay since the British team won 3-2
in the Europe semifinals in 1978 at Roland Garros. (AP)
Turkish runners to
lose 3 Olympic medals
MONACO---Turkish runners Elvan Abeylegesse and
Gamze Bulut were banned for doping yesterday and
stand to lose their Olympic silver medals.
Abeylegesse tested positive for the banned steroid sta-
nozolol in a retest of a sample she gave at the 2007 world
championships. She was banned for two years by the IAAF
and had her results wiped out from 2007-09.
Abeylegesse won Olympic silver medals in the 5,000
and 10,000 metres at the 2008 Beijing Games and silver
in the 10,000 at the 2007 world championships.
American runner Shalane Flanagan stands to get the sil-
ver medal in the 10,000, with third for Linet Chepkwemoi
Masai of Kenya. In the 5,000, Meseret Defar of Ethiopia
would get silver and Sylvia Kibet of Kenya would get bronze.
The IAAF also said it had imposed a four-year ban on Bulut
for a violation of its biological passport program.
Bulut's results from July 2011 have been wiped out,
which will cost her the silver medal in the 1,500 at the
2012 London Olympics. In that race, Bulut finished be-
hind Turkish runner Asli Cakir Alptekin, who has also
since been banned.
Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain stands to inherit gold,
with silver for Tatyana Tomashova of Russia, who has pre-
viously served a ban for giving someone else's urine in a
Bronze would go to Abeba Aregawi, who represented
Ethiopia in 2012 but now races for Sweden. (AP)
Maria Sharapova signs autographs at a sports conference as she
nears the end of her 15-month doping suspension in Rancho Mirage,
California, on Tuesday. The former No 1 player plans to return to
tennis next month at a tournament in Germany. AP PHOTO
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