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Maria Sharapova’s Early Loss at Wimbledon Has Some Wondering If Doping Was Factor In Previous Wins 

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(Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Serena Williams may be the target of excessive drug testing but some speculate Maria Sharapova’s past doping made a difference in her own play after she lost her first round at Wimbledon Tuesday.

Sharapova gave up a 5-2 lead and fell 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-4 to fellow Russian player Vitalia Diatchenko July 3, the AFP reported. The loss was unexpected as Diatchenko is ranked 132 in the world and troubled by injuries.

“Sometimes, you put yourself in a better, or winning, position, and you don’t finish,” Sharapova, who said the transition from clay to grass courts has been harder as she got older, told the Associated Press.

When asked if her issue came down to pre-match jitters, the 24 ranked player said, “That’s part of the game, is to feel moments of tension, to feel there’s something on the line. That’s just human. No matter how many times you’ve done it, no matter what court you’re playing on — Centre Court, backcourt — just the moment, the crowd  — Wimbledon, another tournament — you always want to do your best.

“Of course, you feel it. But I love that feeling. That’s one of the reasons I play. I definitely, maybe, wasn’t smart enough, didn’t play the right way in the crucial moments.”

Sharapova was banned from tennis for 15-months after testing positive for meldonium, which she claimed she used before learning the World Anti-Doping Agency added it to its list of banned drugs at the top of 2016. Sharapova said at the time she used the drug to treat diabetes because of her family’s history with the disease and other ailments. However, it was discovered the drug also enhances athletic performance by increasing blood flow.

As such, some have wondered if Sharapova needs to rely on doping to perform well.

“Without the doping, she has been average. The years of doping has caught up with her. Dope-A-Pova is finished. Plus the talent pool has surpassed her.”

“What’s wrong, Maria? Can’t win without meldonium?”

“Not as good without the drugs, this is why she took them in the first place, they made an average pro a really good one… now she is average again!”

“Nope, you’re done. No drugs to help you. RIP.”

Upon Sharapova’s banning, Williams became the top-earning tennis star in the world, however, she’s recently been the target of over-testing. A Deadspin report said a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officer arrived at Williams’ home unannounced last month and waited for her to arrive to administer the test. The test wasn’t given, but the USADA database shows Williams has been tested five times this year alone — more than any other top-ranked women’s tennis player.

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