Mar 11, 2016

    Players wait for news of Sharapova's sanctions


    WTA Tour players rocked by Maria Sharapova's admission that she had failed a drug test are now waiting to see what sanctions the Russian superstar will face.

    Her positive test for meldonium was the talk of the locker room as the hard-court tournament at Indian Wells got under way on Wednesday.

    Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said she was "shocked" and world number three Agnieszka Radwanska described it as a "sad day for tennis".

    "Nobody expected that. We are all waiting to see what they are going to do about it," said Radwanska.

    Czech Kvitova said Sharapova has made a "huge mistake" by not paying more attention to what drugs are on the banned list.

    Sharapova revealed on Monday that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January.

    She said she had taken the circulation-boosting drug used to treat heart ailments since 2006 but had not spotted that it was added to the banned list as of Jan 1.

    Sponsors of the world's highest-earning sportswoman immediately distanced themselves - with Nike, Porsche and TAG Heuer all halting relationships with the former world No. 1.

    The five-time Grand Slam winner could face a ban of up to four years.

    But her lawyer John J. Haggerty told the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday that he believed she can plead mitigating circumstances and receive a lesser punishment.

    Spain's Rafael Nadal, who has won 14 Grand Slam titles, said Sharapova's positive test is a black eye on the sport.

    "It is terrible news for our sport," he said. "The good news is we have a good anti-doping programme."

    Kvitova said Sharapova's failed test shows that the doping control officials are on top of things.

    "This is an example that they are doing everything to have a clean sport. I think the system is working."

    Former US Open singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova said Sharapova should not be tried in public and her fate should be left in the hands of tennis officials.

    "First of all, I want to say that Maria is a great athlete and even this 'strange mistake' will not be able to outshine all of what she has achieved in tennis.

    "And, most importantly, none of us, especially me, have no rights to comment on this story - not to criticise or evaluate Maria.

    "The doping agency has to see this case, not others."