*By Dana Sleeper
Maria Sharapova, a 29-year-old tennis player and owner of five Grand-Slam titles, is one of the richest female athletes in the world. Sharapova’s glory was jeopardized, however, after she played in the quarter-final round of the Australian Open against Serena Williams on January 26, 2016. Immediately following the match, a urine sample was taken from Sharapova, pursuant to the rules of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program 2016 (“TADP”).  On March 2, 2016, the International Tennis Federation (“ITF”) sent Sharapova a letter informing her that her sample contained Meldonium, a newly prohibited substance.
How Did this Happen?
By way of procedural history, as of January 1, 2016, the drug Meldonium was included on the TADP Prohibited List. Originally developed in Latvia, Meldonium is prescribed to heart patients to help with blood flow. Not approved for use in the United States or the European Union, the drug “acts as a metabolic modulator, inhibiting carnitine synthesis so that cells switch to generating energy from glucose rather than fat, thus requiring less oxygen to produce equivalent energy.” Meldonium is marketed under several brand names, including, but not limited to, Mildronate.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) published the 2016 Prohibited List of substances on September 29, 2015, which included a summary of major modifications. One such statement in the summary declared that “Meldonium (Mildronate) was added because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.” In an effort to notify players of the change, the Women’s Tennis Association (“WTA”) sent out an e-mail with the subject “Player News” on December 18, 2015. While the e-mail mentioned the 2016 TADP, it did not explicitly notify recipients that there had been any changes or additions to the Prohibited List. Several days later, on December 22, 2015, the ITF e-mailed several players and their agents, including Sharapova, about changes to TADP for 2016. While the e-mail included a link to the anti-doping pages of the ITF website, it did not give the players explicit notice that Meldonium had been added to the Prohibited List. Sharapova stated, “I received . . . an e-mail with changes happening for next year as well as reporting whereabouts and a link to a button where you can press to see the prohibited items for 2016 . . . I did not look at that list.”
What Were the Consequences?
Subsequently, an independent tribunal appointed by the ITF held a hearing in London on May 18 and May 19, 2016, to determine the consequences to be imposed on Sharapova for the admitted doping violation. The ITF tribunal released its decision on June 6, 2016, noting that Sharapova was “the sole author of her own misfortune.” It found that Sharapova did, in fact, commit an anti-doping violation. Consequently, the player was disqualified from her results in the January 2016 Australian Open. The period of ineligibility would be two years, beginning on January 26, 2016, the exact date of the violation.
On June 9, 2016, just three days after the ITF decision was released, Maria Sharapova filed a statement of appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge its ruling. In October 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ultimately ordered the ITF Independent Tribunal’s decision to be set aside. Instead, CAS imposed a fifteen-month suspension for the player that began on the date of the anti-doping rule violation: January 26, 2016.
What Will Happen Next?
The inconsistencies surrounding Sharapova’s case provide a mold for thinking about anti-doping efforts going forward. In an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS shortly after CAS’s decision was released, Sharapova admitted,
“[T]here are a lot of things that could have been done to prevent this . . . [b]y myself being more proactive, by speaking to my manager at the end of last year saying, ‘How did you check this? Did you check it? Is it permissible?’ But then, I’ve learned how much more other federations did in this case around this substance.”
Sharapova has, no doubt, learned from this situation, and sincerely hopes that all of the publicity from the case will help the ITF consider modifying its anti-doping regulations and procedures. It is clear that the ITF and WADA need to change the current structure of the anti-doping regulations, especially because some other sports federations seem to have much more transparent systems for notifying players of rule changes.
Looking ahead, while the WTA has used Sharapova’s case to begin making changes to the system, it still has a long way to go. Sharapova forwarded the recent WTA e-mail announcing changes to the 2017 anti-doping program to her lawyer, John Haggerty of Fox Rothschild, who opined that, while “the e-mail was a far cry from [last year’s] convoluted e-mail, . . . more steps need to be taken.” Sharapova herself will also make changes to her approach to comply with tennis’s anti-doping efforts by appointing a whole team to oversee her anti-doping responsibilities instead of relying solely on her agent, Max Eisenbud. Sharapova sincerely hopes her situation will bring awareness to the issues surrounding anti-doping efforts in the sport, and, in a powerful public statement released after CAS’s decision, asserted, “I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through.”
 See Maria Sharapova Doping Ban Appeal Postponed, Keeping Her Out of Rio Olympics, CbsNews (last updated July 11, 2016, 8:55 AM), http://www.cbsnews.com/news/maria-sharapova-in-olympics-surprise/ (noting Sharapova is one of tennis’s most widely-recognized players and one of just ten women in history with at least one title from each of sport’s four Grand Slam tournaments).
 See International Tennis Federation v. Maria Sharapova, Decision of The Independent Tribunal Appointed by the International Tennis Federation, 1 (June 6, 2016), available at http://www.itftennis.com/media/231178/231178.pdf [hereinafter ITF Decision] (introducing facts and circumstances of doping dispute).
 See Arbitration CAS 2016/A/4643, Maria Sharapova v. International Tennis Federation, award of 30 September 2016, ¶ 2 (2016), available at http://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Award_4643__FINAL__internet.pdf [hereinafter CAS Decision] (explaining having Meldonium in her system constituted violation of TADP).
 See Christopher Clarey & Mike Tierney, Maria Sharapova Admits Taking Meldonium, Drug Newly Banned by Tennis, N.Y. Times (Mar. 7, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/sports/tennis/maria-sharapova-failed-drug-test.html?_r=0 (acknowledging drug’s origin and purpose).
 ITF Decision, supra note 2, at 4 (citing Dr. Rabin’s description was produced in evidence for ITF tribunal’s hearing of case). )(...TF decision page 12he player the card.copy substances and methods fically under the metabolic modulators sectionce."at dopi
 See generally Rebecca R. Ruiz, With Court Ruling, Maria Sharapova Can Return to Tennis in 2017, N.Y. Times (Oct. 4, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/sports/tennis/maria-sharapova-doping-appeal-ruling.html?_r=0 (noting Sharapova’s case could be catalyst for restructuring anti-doping programs around world).
 Maria Sharapova Says She’s Coming Back Stronger After Doping Scandal, CBS News (Oct. 5, 2016, 9:32 AM), http://www.cbsnews.com/news/maria-sharapova-tennis-grand-slam-champion-doping-suspension-reduced-comeback-april/ (quoting Sharapova’s thoughts on how situation could have been handled differently and what she has learned from it all).
 See Tennis Star Maria Sharapova’s Doping Ban Cut from 2 Years to 15 Months, FoxNews Sports (Oct. 4, 2016), http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2016/10/04/tennis-star-maria-sharapovas-doping-ban-cut-from-2-years-to-15-months.html (suggesting Sharapova hopes ITF will make efforts to make policies more transparent in future after seeing what transpired in her case).
 See Christopher Clarey, Sharapova’s Case Shows How Unforced Errors Hurt Cleanup Efforts, N.Y. Times (Oct. 4, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/sports/tennis/sharapovas-case-shows-how-unforced-errors-hurt-cleanup-efforts.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fchristopher-clarey&action=click&contentCollection=undefined®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=collection (noting tennis still needs to consider more changes to anti-doping program and ways in which players are notified of changes).