Maria Sharapova was 'reckless beyond description' says Dick Pound

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maria-sharapova-tennis.jpgTennis' now-disgraced golden girl, Maria Sharapova has been branded "reckless beyond description" by Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

According to Pound, Maria Sharapova wasamid revelations the Russian was warned five times in December to stop using Meldonium.

Sharapova was contacted on three occasions by the International Tennis Federation and twice by the Women's Tennis Association with warnings Meldonium would be outlawed from January 1.The alerts were sent to all players.

The former world champion continued to use the drug, apparently unaware it had been placed on the banned list after failing to properly open email links.Her ignorance drew sharp condemnation from Pound who says she has no excuses for the failed test.

"Running a $30 million business depends on you staying eligible to play tennis," Pound said.

"You are taking something on a (banned) list. I am sorry, that is a big mistake - of course she should have known.

"She is taking something that is not generally permitted in her country of residence (US) for medical purposes, so she says, so there must be a doctor following this.

"Anytime there is a change to the list, notice is given on 30 September prior to the change. You have October, November, December to get off what you are doing.

"All the tennis players were given notification of it and she has a medical team somewhere. That is reckless beyond description."

Several of Sharapova's former sponsors including Nike and Porsche have distanced themselves from the Russian who retains the support of many of her rivals, including world no.1 Serena Williams.

Pound meanwhile laid into the 28 year old amid uncertainty over whether she had registered use of Meldonium on paperwork accompanying drug testing.

According to Pound "A drug like this over a long period of time is contraindicated. It means you would not take it over a long period of time.

"That is why there was an urge to put the drug on the list. A lot of people were taking it for performance enhancing.

"Most of the drugs of choice for dopers were built for therapeutic reasons - like EPO and others.

"That was supposed to regenerate blood if you had cancer treatment or surgical intervention if you needed to increase blood supply.

"Someone has said: 'Hmm, more oxygen in the blood? Hmm, very interesting. Let's see if we can use it for that purpose.'

"There is a side effect to every drug, somebody must be monitoring this."

Sharapova faces a ban of up to four years, however several tennis identities believe, with a successful defence, the suspension could be as brief as four to six months.

A date for her hearing has yet to be set.