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Politicizing Sports

By       Message Paul Craig Roberts       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)

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Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts Website

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
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One of the world's best female tennis players, Maria Sharapova, has been suspended, because a medicine she has been taking legally under a doctor's prescription for 10 years was suddenly retroactively declared to be a prohibited substance that is a "metabolic modulator."

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The medicine, known as mildronate and also as meldonium in its banned name, has been in medical use for 30 years. Its inventor declared that the prohibition of mildronate "is a crime" and will lead to deaths among athletes. He says that it has not been proven that the medicine enhances athlete performance, but it does protect their hearts from over-exertion.

Mildronate is used to treat heart problems, magnesium deficiency and diabetes. Sharapova suffers from magnesium deficiency. There is diabetes in her family history, and doctors saw signs that she was developing the disease.

The medicine is not designed to improve athletic performance. However, the medicine does protect athletes' hearts as they push to their limits. Apparently it is this aspect of the medicine that caused the World Anti-Doping Agency to conclude that the medicine facilitates recovery from exertion and, thereby, enhances physical capabilities.

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It is immaterial to my point whether the medicine's inventor or WADA is correct. My point is that for a widely used legal substance to be put on a prohibited list for athletes, there should first be public discussion. If the decision to prohibit the medicine is shown to be warranted, there should be enough advance notice provided so that athletes using the medicine for health reasons such as diabetes or magnesium deficiency, or to protect their heart from failing under exertion, have time to clear their bodies of traces.

This was not done. The medicine was added to the prohibited list on January 1 under the name of meldonium, a name that Sharapova did not recognize. Even if she had been aware that her medicine had been banned, there was not sufficient time between January 1 and the January Australian Open for her to be clear of the substance. WADA's decision was made in a way that guaranteed that Sharapova would fail the test, a test she has always passed in her rise to dominance in women's tennis. Other than WADA's incompetence, it is difficult to read this other than WADA accepted a bribe to eliminate Sharapova from the Australian Open and subsequent events.

Examining this matter from the standpoint of the facts, it is unclear whether WADA consists of a bunch of incompetent and inconsiderate dopes who were unaware of the medicinal use of meldonium, or whether this is an orchestrated stunt to cast more discredit on Russia and Russian athletes.

Perhaps what we are witnessing is an attempt on the part of less capable American and Europeans to move aside dominant Russian athletes in order to be able to capture their lucrative endorsements. Nike, Tag Heuer, and Porsche suspended their contracts with Sharapova. Such cowardly behavior speaks poorly of the integrity of the three companies. The absence of loyalty and support that the companies have shown to their star associate raises questions about the character of the companies' managements and the quality of their products.

As the record proves that Sharapova's use of the medicine is clearly for medical, not performance, reasons, perhaps she will be reinstated by the International Tennis Federation. But the Tennis Federation, like most other institutions, might be under Washington's thumb and used as an instrument of US foreign policy.

Even if she is reinstated, the Tennis Federation, WADA, and her sponsors have succeeded in messing with her mind. WADA official Dick Pound, who is trying to get Russian athletes banned from the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, demonstrated his own lack of integrity when he seized on Sharapova to boost his anti-Russian propaganda, declaring that she was "reckless beyond description" and guilty of "a big mistake." As there is no justification for Pound's irresponsible assertions, it raises questions about the integrity of WADA itself.

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An athlete's mental state is more important to the athlete's performance than performance-enhancing drugs. I was disappointed to see that even RT misrepresented Sharapova's situation as "explosive news" that she had "failed a drug test." She did no such thing! She was trapped, perhaps purposely, by the sudden inclusion under a different name of a medicine she has been taking for a decade under medical supervision.

Until Sharapova is reinstated, competitors will benefit from less strenuous competition.

I remember from my studies of post-Roman Europe that various rulers to the extent that they could mint coins featured the Roman Emperor on the coins, not themselves. The reason for this, I was told, is that people associated coinage with Rome and were accustomed to a Roman image. To make their coinage acceptable, petty kings identified their coins with Rome.

Perhaps this is what we are witnessing today in Russia and China's acceptance of Western domination. The United States and Europe -- the West -- comprise the hallmark of approval. Russia and China, despite their independent power, desire this approval. The West knows that Russia and China seek approval and denies it to them as an assertion of the West's superiority.

It is not Russia and China that destroyed seven countries in the past 15 years. It was Washington and its European vassals. It is not Washington that is accused of human rights violations that are so severe that millions of peoples are fleeing into Europe in order to escape death at the hands of the Americans. It is Russia's attack on ISIS that is blamed for the European refugee problem. It is Russia and China that are accused of human rights violations, not the real perpetrators -- Washington and its vassals.

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Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His books, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available (more...)
 

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