Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Eerie silence still follows Craig Reedie's outrageous statement

Everyone who reads this blog knows where I stand on the Sharapova ban issue: I have yet to see meaningful evidence for meldonium to be a banned substance, and I find it beyond suspicious that a multitude of athletes took it, but in the end, Sharapova was the lone villain. But considering her role in the whole nasty affair, I thought a six-month ban would have been appropriate.

But WADA gave Sharapova two years, which brought up bad memories of Martina Hingis (who received a two-year ban for allegedly ingesting a non-performance-enhancing substance). When all of the evidence (and lack of evidence) are looked at together, two years seems very harsh.

What I'm about to say isn't about how guilty or not guilty Sharapova was. It's about the culture of envy, contempt and group-think that permitted the president of WADA, Craig Reedie, to publicly express a sentiment that was, at the very least, shockingly tasteless. At worst, it added more than a tinge of suspicion to the decision to give Sharapova such a lengthy ban.

In case you've forgotten (or you missed it, since the media couldn't make it go away fast enough), Reedie's post-decision comment was: "For me the only satisfactory element in Madame Sharapova's case was that in one year she can earn more money than the whole of Wada's budget put together."

Sharapova's attorney called the statement "unprofessional" (you think?) and asked for an apology. It would have been absolutely appropriate for her attorney to call for more than an apology, i.e., an investigation, but that would have wound up hurting his client, so it was out of the question. In a reasonably sane world, this is when the media would have stepped in and suggested the possibility of a link between Reedie's obvious contempt for Sharapova and the fact that WADA gave her an especially harsh penalty.

But the sports (and general news, for that matter) media--which is generally prone to blathering on even if there's nothing relevant or intelligent to be said--was so silent, you could have conducted a church ritual. Why?

I can only speculate, of course, but "fear of WADA" comes to mind as one reason. WADA has made several questionable (and erroneous) decisions over the years, and the press has remained silent or relatively silent about all of them. It isn't hard to infer that the one institution that is supposed to be able to take on anyone is afraid to challenge WADA.

Another reason--a worse one--is that through its silence, the media was in (at least unconscious) agreement that Sharapova's wealth makes her an easy hate target. Social media was strangely silent about the matter, too.

And there's always the possibility--unfortunately, a strong one--that our culture of ignoring injustice if we dislike the victim may have been at play. If you "hate" Sharapova (and I seriously doubt you know her, much less have even met her), or if you are outraged by how she handled the meldonium situation--that has nothing to do with the fact that Reedie's statement was very inappropriate, and quite possibly a clue that WADA did not act impartially.

The fact that Reedie knew he could safely make the statement in public, sadly, says everything (unless he is very stupid, which I doubt). And I can't help but wonder whether he would have made the same contemptuous statement had the subject been Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Maybe, but my gut says no.


Anonymous said...

thank you. i always thought the reedie comment was suspect and even more so after the CAS decision. what i found interesting is that in the ITF's short notice of CAS's decision, they failed to mention anything that puts them in a really bad light such as
-in CAS in 101"...and that she was not clearly informed by the relevant anti-doping authorities of the change in the rules. After its de novo review here, the Panel has determined it does not agree with many of the conclusions of the Tribunal (i.e. ITF-my addition), except as otherwise specifically indicated herein." also CAS in 102"...point out that the case it heard, and the award it renders, was not about an athlete who cheated. it was only about the degree of fault ... under no circumstances, therefore, can the Player be considered to be an “intentional doper”.
So to me WADA and the ITF are suspect especially with the slant it gave and the item you spoke about.
I just hope that maria, like cilic and strycova, will be welcomed back. She will have to depend on wildcards for madrid and the French Open. I was upset how some players, 2 of which were mladenovic and cibulkova, jumped on maria before everything was determined.

Diane said...

The ITF is absolutely part and parcel of this--as usual (remember what they did to Alves?). There's no one of note to stand up to them, so the distortions continue. Looking forward to Maria's matches against both Kiki and Domi

Anonymous said...


I was very disappointed in Stosur in the above article. "At the WTA event in Hong Kong, Samantha Stosur said she was surprised by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision on Maria Sharapova, adding that Sharapova should not have been allowed to "get away" with saying she did not know the product had recently become banned."

Sharapova said she didn't know that meldonium had become banned but took full responsibility for not having known. Sharapova didn't "get away" with it, she got 3 months beyond the normal 1 yr ban for her situation.

"I can’t believe it, actually,” Stosur said. “I don’t even know what to say ... I don’t know how you can get away with that excuse and have that overturned ... I think it’s remarkable that you can use that excuse and get away with it ...where you can almost put your hands up and say it was not my fault."

It was noted by the writer that CAS had overturned the ITF's ban due partly because "she had not received significant warning from the ITF or WADA about the change."

This was CAS's decision, not Sharapova's. What concerns me is how many of the players really listed to Sharapova or read the entire CAS decision. And how many of them realize that the same thing could happen to them if they accidentally put the wrong item in their mouths. They are dealing with Strycova and Hingis just fine.

According to the writer "Stosur indicated that she and other WTA players are not likely to get behind Sharapova."

Diane said...

I wasn't surprised to hear this, but I was surprised to hear it out of Stosur's mouth. She's the last player I would expect to say something that judgmental. Interesting.