Maria Sharapova’s attorney, John Haggerty, has spoken with SI.com in the aftermath of her confession to failing a drug test at the Australian Open.
Sharapova was informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that she tested positive for Meldonium at this year’s first grand slam. The Russian star had legally used the substance for ten years.
However, at the beginning of 2016 Meldonium was officially added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list. Prior to that, a letter was sent out warning athletes of the change. Sharapova did not read the letter and continued taking the drug.
In a telephone interview, Haggerty shed light on a few matters surrounding the controversy.
When asked whether Sharapova’s esteemed reputation in the women’s game might allow her to follow a different process than other offenders Haggerty explained: “We are attempting to have a conversation with the ITF up front because we think there are a laundry list of extremely mitigating circumstances that once taken into consideration would result in dramatically reducing any sanction that they might want to impose on Maria.”
When asked if he felt that Sharapova was not entirely responsible for the offence, Haggerty was quick to state that his client takes full responsibility for her actions.
“My client believes that it’s something that as a professional athlete it’s your obligation to know everything that goes into your body, so she has no problem with that standard and has for her entire career lived up to that standard.
“It was only for these 25 days in January that she had something in her body that was a prohibitive substance.”
Meldonium is a drug that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) which begs the question as to how she was getting it. Haggerty refused to comment when that was put to him.
“I’m not at liberty to talk about that because of the ITF process and the confidentiality involved about sharing her medical information, so I can’t go beyond what we discussed at that point.”