Photo Credit: FameFlynet Pictures
UPDATE: OOPS! Looks like Nike kicked Sharapova to the curb, as well.
The fact that the drug was outlawed on January 1, 2016 makes it seem like bad luck for tennis star Maria Sharapova, but in light of the recent drama, the Latvian company responsible for manufacturing meldonium states that the normal treatment time for the drug is four to six weeks—NOT 10 YEARS!!!
So with that in hand, I’ll have to change my earlier assessment on the situation and conclude that Maria Sharapova was obviously using the drug because it was giving her an edge in her training and performance on the court. For those of you still wondering what this drug does for an athlete, Quartz has a nice explanation:
It is primarily used to treat people with heart conditions that affect the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body. As it happens, oxygen delivery is key to an athlete’s performance, too.
Here’s what Meldonium does:
It reduces the amount of oxygen needed to keep tissues alive by changing the way muscle cells metabolize various substances in the blood. Typically, long-chain fatty acids enter cell mitochondria, which is where the metabolic process occurs. Meldonium blocks this action, instead sending carbohydrates to the mitochondria.
Metabolizing carbs requires less oxygen than metabolizing fatty acids, so giving the mitochondria carbs instead of fatty acids can keep cells alive when there’s not enough oxygen in the blood. This can save lives when poor circulation reduces blood supply and oxygen to tissues. For the same reason, reducing the need for oxygen can enhance athletic performance.
These latest photos of Sharapova were snapped earlier this afternoon as she hit up an L.A. gym just a day after she announcing her suspension. Within 24 hours of the announcement, Sharapova was dropped by three big sponsors, Nike, Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer and Porsche.