Can Psychology Explain the Maria Sharapova Doping Controversy?

dopingMystery continues to surround the revelation that tennis champion Maria Sharapova has tested positive for a banned substance. One of the enigmas surrounds the drug implicated–meldonium–is reportedly widely used for the treatment of heart problems, so why would an elite athlete take it?

Does the incident reveal deeper and more widespread problems in performance enhancement and elite sport, than the authorities and fans would like to admit?

A study entitled, “‘Self-Reported Attitudes of Elite Athletes Towards Doping: Differences Between Type of Sport,” published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine of 446 athletes financially supported by the National Finnish Olympic Committee, found 30 % reported that they personally know an athlete who uses banned substances.

The authors, from the University of Helsinki, argued that risk of doping appears to be highest in speed and power sports and lowest in motor skills demanding sports.

Effects on Testosterone

A study entitled, “Effects of Meldonium on sexual performance, sperm motility, testes morphology and blood biochemical markers in boars,” found that meldonium improved sexual performance and sperm motility in boars.

This finding may be linked to the fact that blood serum testosterone was higher in the meldonium treated group.

The authors of the study, published in the academic journal, Animal Reproduction Science, conclude that meldonium increased testosterone in blood serum, and it may have potential use as a sperm motility and sperm quality-enhancing agent in livestock.

However, the authors of the study, based at the Latvia University of Agriculture, and the company Grindeks, also point out that it is prolonged use of meldonium that might be necessary to achieve its positive effects on testosterone/ Previous research found that shorter term administration didn’t have these effects.

Can Psychology Explain the Maria Sharapova Doping Controversy?

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen


APA Reference
, . (2019). Can Psychology Explain the Maria Sharapova Doping Controversy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Sep 2019
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Sep 2019
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