Maria Sharapova was handed a two-year ban for using the meldonium drug by the Tribunal of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) earlier this month, but the ITF had pushed for a full four-year ban. The ITF does not work alone when it comes to policing and enforcing “clean sport” regulations. It is the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA), the umbrella body, who works with and through the various sporting federations that have a lot of sway in dealing with player bans.

Reedie concerned about Maria’s salary.

When the president of WADA, Graig Reedie spoke at a WADA conference in London recently, it was reported by The Independent News online, that he raised the issue of Sharapova’s salary a number of times.

WADA has a budget, and they are always looking for more money, but Reedies’ statement where he said “For me the only satisfactory element in Madame Sharapova’s case was that in one year she can earn more money than the whole of Wada’s budget put together,” raises questions about the motivation behind the harsh drug ban suspension.

How altruistic was the two-year ban?

Was the ban that the International Tennis Federation (ITF)requested motivated by the fact that Sharapova earns more than the annual WADA budget? Did her salary play into the ban, rather than the fact they she was found not guilty of actually deliberately trying to take the drug meldonium to enhance her sporting performance? Altruism, fairness, and non-biased practices are essential in any court that has the ability to jail a person, take away their freedoms, and remove privileges that other people enjoy, or punish for infractions of rules and regulations.

As has been clearly demonstrated in the legal circus surrounding Oscar Pistorius, when constant reference is made to personal finances and financial well-being, the sentencing can be judged to have been swayed by bank balances rather than through the actual infringement itself.

Loss of earnings not part of the punishment.

When Reedie said that the only satisfaction he has about Maria Sharapova is the fact that she earns so much money for playing tennis, this could be interpreted as saying that he is satisfied she will drop in earnings during her ban. The purpose of WADA is to ensure sport is clean and that no athlete has any advantage over others through the use of drugs.

The punishment for failing to comply with clean-sport regulations should be applied fairly and without discrimination. The additional loss of earnings to the player on top of any suspensions or ban is not meant to be part of the punishment process. That is not the primary reason why WADA was formed in the first place and should not be their prime motivation.

Will Maria’s lawyer use this in CAS appeal?

Sharapova’s Lawyer called for an apology from Reedie over the statements he made and said that the statement was unprofessional as “every case should be investigated irrespective of earnings. “ Sharapova is appealing her two-year ban through the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Lawyers are sharp and it is unlikely that Sharapova’s lawyer will let this go.

Any lawyer worth his salt would be picking at the edges of this public declaration that her earnings might have influenced the two-year ban. This might not be the last time we hear of Reedie’s indiscretion with regards to Sharapova's legal battle.

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