Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Maria Sharapova. The flip side

Alas. Another well known athlete has been busted by the dope cops. Ms. Sharapova tested positive for a drug known as meldonium at the Australian Open a few months back. Ever heard of it? Me neither. But nowadays "banned substances" in the athletic world are about as plentiful as stupid laws still on the books in the real world.

Many would claim it's an athlete's responsibility to KNOW these things. Similarly, it has long been said by cops and prosecutors that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Who knew you still couldn't legally spit on the sidewalk on Tuesdays in one community? And why will we get ticketed for backing into a library parking space in some others? Should it make any difference which way our vehicle is pointed in a parking lot? I was once in a Michigan town on a Sunday having dinner with my daughter at a restaurant. I ordered a draft beer. Oops, that's not allowed, said the waitress. But you can have a mixed drink. Huh? How does that work? She explained a local ordinance stated no beer could be sold on Sunday but hard liquor was OK. So I asked her -- you mean I can't get a 12 ounce glass of beer but I can get hammered on Jackie D or tequila? Really? What kind of stupid law is that? She didn't know, but the rules were the rules. I settled for a Coke, but the colossal archaic ignorance of some statutes still on the books is mind-boggling.

In Sharapova's case, it was totally understandable. With her doctor's blessing and a totally above board prescription, she had been taking this very legal medication for 10 years to help with her diabetes. What could possibly be wrong with that?

But no, the ruling tennis authorities decided this particular med would no longer be allowed as of Jan. 1, 2016. Sharapova didn't know. And now she's busted and her tennis future in danger. The bureaucrats were quick to announce Maria would be suspended pending "further investigation".

It's an outrage. How the hell can they ban something they have accepted as a legal medication for the last 10 years or more?  That would lead to further questions. What might come next?

Could insulin make the list? After all, it's definitely a performance enhancing drug when it comes to diabetics. As in, without it, they will cease to perform at all. As in die.

How about taking the inhalers away from asthmatics? Those things are chock full of all kinds of goodies, even, gasp!! steroids. But it's been a long accepted medical theory that continuing to breathe was a far better choice than the alternative.

Maybe they should outlaw Ben-Gay and ace bandages. They both help to soothe injuries and improve performance. For that matter, why not just have all the players play naked? Those pesky sports bras and athletic cups are a luxury they don't need.

And leave it to Nike to quickly back away from its sponsorship of Sharapova. Aren't these the same folks that have child laborers in Asian countries assembling their products for a few cents an hour, then turn around and sell them in the States for hundreds of dollars a pop? THOSE guys?

Like so many others, Maria Sharapova fell on the sword. She has publicly apologized, taken full responsibility, and appears to be almost in begging mode when it comes to ever playing tennis again on the pro tour.

Well I say -- screw that. If I was Sharapova I would have stated the following at the news conference:

[I'm not about to suck up to the nitwits that keep changing the drug rules every 5 minutes. They banned my meldonium under another generic name and didn't even bother to tell me. How was I to know?

Besides, I'm 29 years old, getting up there for a tennis player, and had been contemplating retirement anyway. And it's not like I need the money anymore. If you look it up you'll find I made more dough than Serena Williams and Danica Patrick combined last year. Serena has won a lot of stuff, but she'll never win the Grand Slam. I have won all four of those tournaments. Danica's never won anything. She's only famous because she's a woman (sort of) in a man's sport. She's wrecked more race cars than I've gone through tennis rackets. Plus, they both have serious attitude problems when it comes to ego.

As for Nike, they can kiss my ass. Any sponsor that bails that fast -- long before the full story has been told -- was never worthy in the first place. But what would you expect of a company with such a long sordid history of exploitation? Good riddance. And hey, how about giving those kids in the China sweatshops a raise to -- you know -- minimum wage level?]

Personally, as much as I admired her tennis skills, yours truly always found Maria Sharapova difficult to watch play. Something about her incessant screaming on every shot. If the tennis authorities are going to ban anything -- ban THAT. Let them have their needed meds, but put muzzles on the shriekers and grunters.


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