Further to my “The confused world around Maria Sharapova” posting of yesterday it turns out that her sponsors, such as Nike and Porsche were not at all confused ! They dropped their highly lucrative endorsements straight away. This is something that they didn’t do — and still haven’t done — in the case of egregiously corrupted Fifa. But . . . after all, the world of soccer is at least a hundred times more profitable to commercial sponsors than tennis.
The support Sharapova gained from many others in the tennis world confirms that confusion about doping still reigns — just as it still does in the world of athletics where it’s not within a country-mile of cleaning itself up. Even Lord Coe, whom we originally took to be a wholesale reformer of the International Athletics Federation has turned out to be, well, slightly more ‘complicated’ than first imagined. Corruption stalks a lot of other sports, too, including cricket or rugger, which we’d never have imagined as being corrupt as recently as, say, 20 years ago (but probably was, even then).
Of all nationalities, Russia is the one in which corruption is supposedly the most rife. And yet, over the Sharapova issue, a Russian said what to my mind is the most sensible comment yet. This is of Shamil Tarpischev, president of he Russian Tennis Federation. He said: “I think this is a load of nonsense. The sportsmen take what is given by their physiotherapists and doctors.”
Sharapova is said to have received $200 million in fees over the past few years from advertisers, so I’m not losing any sympathy in her case. She was greedy and was found out. Nevertheless, while astronomical sums are being paid to top sportspeople, then, unless they are saints — who are few and far between — they’re going to be tempted to keep on doping with the latest performance-enhancing drug. Anybody who thinks doping can be stopped is very naive.
It’s been a salutary eye opener to the general public but there’s no reason why they couldn’t keep on supporting those they want to in future years whether doping continues or not. They’ll take individual circumstances into account no doubt and you can be sure that the media will keep them fully in the picture as well as they can whether an individual athlete is taking dope or not. Man has a basic instinct for fair-play and you can be sure that this will vanquish deceit at the end of the day — just as any wholesome sport will also detach itself from the world of commerce in due course