Maria Sharapova And What Is Sports Doping?

Maria Sharapova, Meldonium and the new cutting edge of sports doping. Where’s the line between legitimate medical treatment and cheating? Plus, a formal admission from the NFL on the link between concussions and football gameplay.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova speaks during a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday, March 7, 2016. Sharapova says she has failed a drug test at the Australian Open. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Tennis star Maria Sharapova speaks during a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday, March 7, 2016. Sharapova says she has failed a drug test at the Australian Open. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Maria Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam tennis champ and the world’s highest-paid female athlete. And last week she laid it out plain and simple:  she’s tested positive for a recently banned drug. For doping. Sharapova was straightforward, but she was also quick to assert she had used it for medical reasons. Turns out more than 60 other athletes have tested positive for the same drug. This hour On Point, at the cutting edge of sports doping, where’s the line between treatment and cheating?

— Tom Ashbrook


Christopher Clarey, tennis writer and global sports columnist for the New York Times. (@christophclarey)

John Hoberman, sports historian and doping expert. Author of “Testosterone Dreams” and “Mortal Engines.” Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. (@johnhoberman)

Dr. Norman Fost, professor emeritus of pediatrics and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also the director of the Bioethics Program.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Wave of Positive Tests for Meldonium Adds to Doping Crisis — “On several fronts, the last six months have been a period like no other in the long-running antidoping tussle. Russia was barred from international track and field because of systemic doping, and allegations of widespread corruption have been levied against the top of track and field’s global governing body.”

Newsweek: 99 Meldonium Positive Tests Recorded Since January 1 Ban: World Anti-doping Agency — “Other athletes named as having meldonium positive tests include Davit Modzmanashvili, a Georgian Olympic silver medalist in wrestling; Russian short-track speed-skating gold medalist Semion Elistratov; Pavel Kulizhnikov, a Russian world-champion speed skater; and Swedish world-champion runner Abeba Aregawi. Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov and 2015 Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse also tested positive for meldonium.”

New Zealand Herald: Sharapova, drugs and the nature bias — “Is meldonium unsafe? I have not gone into the safety profile in detail. But the question itself is not simple. How safe is too unsafe for a competent adult athlete to consent to before we need to create a blanket ban?”

NFL Official Acknowledges CTE Link

Kevin Blackistone, sports columnist at the Washington Post and visiting professor of sports journalism at the University of Maryland. Panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn. (@ProfBlackistone)

BuzzFeed News: Top NFL Official Admits Link Between Football And Brain Disease For First Time — “A top NFL official for the first time on Monday publicly admitted that there is a link between football and degenerative brain disease. The NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois if there was a link between the sport and brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.”


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