INDIAN WELLS – In anticipation of being asked about Maria Sharapova’s doping announcement on Monday, players at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells were provided with a series of talking points issued by the WTA Tour, which SI obtained on Wednesday. They read as follows:
Below for your background information you will find a brief Q & A on the key inquires expected to be received and as is our policy, any and all media inquiries you may receive should be directed through [name redacted]. If you should have any further questions, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Q. Do you think Maria should be suspended?
A. We think it’s important that the Tennis Anti-Doping Program follows the standard procedures it has in place. The WTA will support the decisions reached through this process.
Q. Does it surprise you that this happened to Maria?
A. Every player received the 2016 WADA Prohibited List from both the WTA and ITF. It is the responsibility of the player to know the rules.
Q. Exactly what notifications did you send to Maria? What did they say and can you provide them to me?
A. The process is the same each year. In this instance, the WTA posted WADA’s 2016 Prohibited List on the Player Zone in December with a reminder sent to all players. The ITF informed all players in the testing pool and their known agents via written notification, with a link to the 2016 Wallet Card which contains the Prohibited List.
Q. Is Maria right? Was her medication allowed prior to January 1st and was it added to the banned list on January 1?
A. Yes it was prohibited as of January 1st.
Q. What is her status now?
A. She will be provisionally suspended in accordance with the TADP rules pending a final decision once the process has reached completion.
Q. If Maria can’t play anymore, how much of a blow is that to the WTA?
A. I’m not prepared to speculate about the future. I think it’s important for the TADP to complete its process and render its judgment.
Q. Between this and the gambling revelations, it’s been a tough year for tennis.
A. The integrity of our sport is paramount and it is important to do the right thing and to follow the rules. I think the future of tennis is very bright and the game remains very popular around the world. I thought Maria did the right thing to let people know about this herself, but now it is important to let the TADP carry out its procedures. We have a comprehensive process in place and I have confidence that the results will reflect what is appropriate.