Thursday, June 9, 2016

Crime vs. time

So maybe two years isn't a life sentence. Anything's possible, I guess.

But when you're talking professional tennis and you're talking someone who stands in the shadow of 30, like Maria Sharapova, a life sentence is what a two-year ban might amount to. She'll be 31 or 32 when she comes back, off a two-year layoff imposed by the tennis poobahs this week. Does she regain her form? Or does she decide, during her time away, that it's time to hang it up, anyway?

Decisions, decisions, now that she's been tagged for being a drug cheat. And no doubt her age and the magnifying effect a two-year sitdown will have because of that is a factor in why Sharapova is appealing her suspension for using meldonium, a substance that joined tennis' list of banned substances on January 1.


 I think she should appeal it on the grounds that the punishment doesn't fit the crime.

Media tends to be knee-jerk about these things, and so the prevailing opinion is that Sharapova really is a drug cheat, caught red-handed in a deliberate act. Maybe so, but the Blob has been contrarian about this from the start. Yes, she should have checked her e-mails better, because everyone was warned that meldonium was going on the list. Yes, she continued to use it even on the sly after she left the doctor who initially prescribed it a decade ago because of irregular electrocardiograms and some dodgy family medical history.

But that was in 2013, before meldonium was deemed a banned substance by tennis. And so I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what was heinous about her continuing to use it -- even if, as the investigators claimed, she was doing so for performance enhancing purposes. Pardon me, but so what? It wasn't a banned substance yet. So why make an issue over why she was using it?

Maybe there's something I'm not getting here, but I find it more than a little amusing that, up until midnight on January 1, Sharapova was not a cheater. One second later, suddenly, she was.

Even though she was the same player using the same substance to the same arguable effect. Even though, from where the Blob sits, she's guilty mostly of  inattention.

Two years for not checking your e-mail? And with so few years left in your career, anyway?

Seems harsh.

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