Berdych unbending after Sharapova ruling
Photo Source: EPA
Every player bears responsibility for his or her own medications, recent appendicitis patient Tomas Berdych said on Wednesday, responding to the reduction of Maria Sharapova's doping ban from two years to 15 months.
Five-time grand slam winner Sharapova on Tuesday had her punishment reduced on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a ruling welcomed with relief by the Russian tennis star.
Sharapova tested positive in January at the Australian Open for the Latvian heart drug meldonium, which she had been prescribed for years. She was banned in June for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
She went to CAS in Lausanne, which partially upheld her appeal in the ruling, making her eligible to play again from April 26, 2017, one month ahead of the French Open.
Third seed Berdych, who went out in the first round of the Japan Open 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 to Gilles Muller, made no secret of his thoughts on player responsibility.
"Every time I have to take something, I check with others many, many times to make sure it is legal," said the Czech who was treated in Prague for appendicitis and returned to the court last week and won the Shenzhen title in China.
"If it is all clear, I will use it. In the end, no matter who else is involved, you are the player and it is you who is out there playing and performing."
Sharapova's successful defence to CAS relied on the fact that tennis officials did not communicate clearly a year ago that meldonium - legal until January 1 - was to be put on the banned list.
"I've already received the list for 2017 - it's easy to understand," Berdych said.
The Czech, who missed the US Open due to his illness, said he was happy to be back on court and playing matches.
He was joined in his sentiments on the doping issue by Muller, who added: "Any positive test could be punished. If you reduce the penalty, it sends the wrong message."