Andy Murray maintained his hardline stance on Maria Sharapova’s conviction for taking a banned substance – on the day she announced her appeal against the two-year ban handed down a week ago.
Speaking after he advanced to the second round at Queen’s with a two-set win over the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, the world No2 said: “My thoughts haven’t changed really from March [when he condemned the Russian for failing a drug test at the Australian Open]. I spoke quite a lot about it then.
“I do feel like if you’re cheating and are caught, and you are gaining advantage on your opponents, then you have to be punished for that. It’s not what’s fair or not, in terms of time. That’s up to the governing bodies, the courts and stuff and the lawyers, to decide. But my view hasn’t changed since March at all.”
Nor would he accept it as a defence for athletes to claim they were ignorant of what drugs they were taking, banned or not.
“I don’t really see that as being a valid excuse. If you’re taking any medication, it’s your responsibility as the athlete to check and make sure what you’re taking is legal. There can be the odd case where, if you were given something by a doctor, he tells you, “Oh, this is, I don’t know, a vitamin’, and it’s not, then that’s different. But if you’re taking medication, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t know whether it’s on the banned list or not.”
He said he would not entrust ask his management to monitor what he took, either – as Sharapova has done with her agent, Max Eisenbud, who claimed he did not alert the player to a warning about the banned drug meldonium because he was holidaying during a personal crisis and did not see the emails from the International Tennis Federation.
“No, Dr Turner, who works at the LTA [would inspect any drug he took]. I only take an anti-inflammatory now and then if I’m having problems with my back or my hips. But he would be the guy I would speak to about that, for sure.”
Murray declined to say if Sharapova should be allowed to compete at the Olympics if her appeal, to be heard on or before 18 July, were successful in overturning her conviction.
“It’s not up to me to decide what’s appropriate or not. That’s up to whoever the governing body is, and I guess it’s Cas [the court of arbitration for sport] who are looking into it now, and they will come to a decision. It’s not up to me to decide what’s fair or not. But my position and my views on it haven’t changed since March one bit.”
This article was written by Kevin Mitchell at Queen's, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 14th June 2016 22.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010