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Maria Sharapova’s ex coach talks drug test fail

Maria Sharapova’s support team have “let her down”, her former coach Jeff Tarango has insisted.
The five-time Grand Slam tennis champion has been suspended from the sport after testing positive for the drug Meldonium, which had recently been banned, at the Australian Open tournament.
Sharapova announced the news at a Los Angeles press conference on Monday (07Mar16), admitting she had received an email from officials at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) about new prohibited substances in December (15), but failed to check the updated list and was unaware her prescription medication Mildronate, which can boost an athlete’s endurance and aid in rehabilitation, was also known as Meldonium.
Tarango coached Sharapova when she was just starting out in the tennis world, and believes those who work for the sportswoman should have been more vigilant about the drug.
“There’s a lot of questions I still have but somebody should have told her, don’t you think?” he said during an interview on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (08Mar16). “Don’t you think her agent or her physical trainer or her doctor, or the new CEO of the WTA (World Tennis Association) should have said to her, ‘Hey, stop taking this, because we know you’ve been taking it for nine, 10 years.’
“I think there are a few players out there who weren’t in control of their lives and didn’t know what they were doing. They were told to do something. If I was told, ‘Hey, if you don’t take this pill you are going to have a heart attack on the court’ I would take the pill. It just depends who’s around you and I really feel like her support system that she depends on since she’s been 14, 15 years old, let her down.”
Tarango hasn’t worked with the tennis player for many years. However, he admits that when he did coach her, she was always very careful about any medication she took.
“She was afraid to take an Advil or an aspirin when I was coaching her,” he said. “She was 16, 17, 18 years old and she got this heart condition after that time.
“What upsets me the most about this whole thing is that there are 15, 16, 17-year-old kids that are having to make this what we call the $40 million decision. Do you want to risk ruining your life span and your children’s internals so you can make $40 million? Or do you want to go on and live your life correctly, be like me, be ranked 40 in the world your whole career and just enjoy your life?”
Meanwhile, Michele Verroken, who formerly worked as the Director of Ethics and Anti-Doping at UK Sport, has spoken about the intricacies of a drug being placed on the prohibited list.
She also revealed that athletes who need to take a drug for their health are able to get a “therapeutic use exemption” – a route Sharapova may have been able to go down.
“The prohibited list will change at the beginning of a calendar year,” she told Good Morning Britain. “We are advised in October of the changes that are planned so there’s a three month lead in to allow athletes who may be using what will become prohibited medications to either revise their medications with their doctor or to obtain what we call a therapeutic use exemption – a kind of permission to use under certain circumstances. So I think it’s a surprise for everybody that an elite athlete might not be warned about this situation by certainly the prescribing physician – athletes are responsible.”

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