Maria Sharapova failing an Australian Open doping test for a substance banned only weeks before was “reckless beyond description”, said former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound.
The 28-year-old Russian, a five-time Grand Slam singles champion, revealed Monday she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in January and several sponsors have already cut ties with her.
“Running a $30 million business depends on you staying eligible to play tennis,” said Pound, the WADA boss from 1999 through 2007.
“You are taking something on a list. I am sorry. That is a big mistake. Of course she should have known.”
Sharapova said she received an e-mail with a link to the revised list of banned substances but never clicked on it to learn the drug she had taken since 2006 had been put on the banned list, WADA having seen it used as an improper energy and stamina helper.
“She is taking something that is not generally permitted in her country of residence for medical purposes, so she says, so there must be a doctor following this,” Pound said.
“Anytime there is a change to the list, notice is given on 30 September prior to the change. You have October, November, December to get off what you are doing.
“All the tennis players were given notification of it and she has a medical team somewhere. That is reckless beyond description.”
The International Tennis Federation has said Sharapova will be provisionally banned from March 12.
She faces a four-year ban for the violation but hopes to have it reduced. But Pound noted WADA could push for a higher punishment.