Tennis star Maria Sharapova, fresh off her US Open wild-card appearance after a 15-month suspension for doping, has denied cheating and brushed off her critics as not having all the facts in a BBC interview.
Sharapova, who admitted her mistake in taking the supplement meldonium, has weathered criticism since getting the wild-card berth, notably from fellow player Eugenie Bouchard, who said Sharapova shouldn't have been allowed to return to tennis. When asked about Bouchard's comments, Sharapova said, "I think those are comments not based on facts, so I don't take them into consideration."
After saying that, Sharapova was asked, "What are the facts, then, that you're not a cheater?" Sharapova replied, "Exactly."
Sharapova was also asked about comments from Andy Murray, who said he finds it strange that so many top tennis stars take meldonium.
"I don't think it's for them to really have an opinion, because they don't have the facts," Sharapova told BBC. "So, you know, I think that those are the types of words that make headlines and they will be used as headlines. ... But ultimately, this is my career, and I faced it head on, and I admitted my mistake, and I went about it and I served my suspension and now I'm back."
Sharapova has maintained that she has taken meldonium since 2006, when it was prescribed to her by her doctor to address a number of health issues.
"After my first grand slam at Wimbledon, I was not very healthy for a long period of time. I went to see a children's doctor back in Russia. I was still a teenager and he did a few tests and said I had some abnormalities in my heart and [meldonium] was one of the supplements he recommended I take," Sharapova said in the BBC interview. "It was very common in Russia and it was completely legal to take for many years. It ultimately became illegal for the first weeks of last year."
But she did question the ban of meldonium, which is said to have positive effects on endurance.
"The problem I have with that is there's no proof of what it does, and no one can give you that proof. What is the ban based on?" she said.
Sharapova has recently released a memoir, "Unstoppable: My Life So Far."