Shara­pova’s ex-boyfriend says she de­served ban

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Maria Shara­pova’s exboyfriend Grigor Dim­itrov yes­ter­day sug­gested she de­served her ban from tennis for a dop­ing of­fence, an in­ci­dent that has sent shock­waves through the sport.

“I think tennis misses her,” the Bul­gar­ian world num­ber 20 said of the five-time Grand Slam cham­pion, adding that he had “zero doubts” she would make a suc­cess­ful re­turn.

“As a com­peti­tor she’s just go­ing to come back and she’s go­ing to be so hun­gry to play and ex­cited and mo­ti­vated,” said Dim­itrov, who dated the Rus­sian su­per­star for two years un­til they split in July 2015.

But he added: “If you do some­thing, I mean ob­vi­ously there are cir­cum­stances. And who­ever does some­thing de­serves what he gets for sure.”

Dim­itrov was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about an in­ter­view in which Shara­pova ac­cused the In­ter­na­tional Tennis Fed­er­a­tion (ITF) of try­ing to make an ex­am­ple of her by giv­ing her a 24month ban for test­ing pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium. The sus­pen­sion was cut to 15 months on Tues­day af­ter an ap­peal to the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS), mean­ing Shara­pova can re­turn to ac­tion next April.

Dim­itrov cited the case of world num­ber 1,857th Joshua Chetty, who was banned from tennis for life in Septem­ber for match-fix­ing of­fences.

“It’s never up to me or ITF and all that,” Dim­itrov said, re­fer­ring to pun­ish­ments of play­ers. “I think through­out the years, these kind of things should have started ear­lier with ex­am­ples and all of that.” World num­ber two Andy Mur­ray also said that Shara­pova de­served to be sus­pended, echo­ing com­ments he made ear­lier in the year when the case was first made public.

“Maria com­peted at the Aus­tralian Open whilst us­ing a banned drug, and then de­serves a sus­pen­sion. The time of the sus­pen­sion, that’s not up to me,” Mur­ray told re­porters in Bei­jing.

The Scot had pre­vi­ously crit­i­cised the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) for how it han­dled the ban on mel­do­nium, which has al­lowed athletes to es­cape sus­pen­sions.

“With ev­ery­thing that’s gone on this year with mel­do­nium, ob­vi­ously there were go­ing to be some is­sues with that legally,” he added.

Shara­pova has ad­mit­ted to tak­ing mel­do­nium for 10 years for health rea­sons, but said she wasn’t aware it had been added to WADA’s list of banned sub­stances in Jan­uary.

The CAS judg­ment said Shara­pova, one of the most mar­ketable fe­male athletes in any sport, was not an “in­ten­tional doper” but that she also “bore some de­gree of fault”.

Both Mur­ray and Dim­itrov are cur­rently in Bei­jing for the China Open. Dim­itrov booked his place in the sec­ond round on Wed­nes­day by beat­ing Amer­i­can Steve John­son 7-5, 6-7 (7/9) 64, while Mur­ray over­pow­ered An­drey Kuznetsov in two sets to reach the quar­ter fi­nals. — AFP

Maria Shara­pova and ex-boyfriend Grigor Dim­itrov (right).

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