Larry Williams: Sharapova lucky her titles won't be stripped

Listen to Larry Williams now on Newstalk ZB, 4pm to 7pm. Today he discusses Maria Sharapova and the deported au pair.

Five-time grand slam winner Maria Sharapova has admitted to failing a drugs test at the Australian Open.

Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium, something she has taken since 2006 for health issues. It was put on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list this year.

Remarkably, Sharapova didn't even look at the banned list that was sent out to her - which is pretty arrogant.

We need to get into context what exactly Sharapova has been up to.

Meldonium is a drug that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States - a country where Sharapova lives. She was being prescribed the drug from her family doctor in Eastern Europe. It's a Latvian pharmaceutical. All this looks a but murky to me.

The key point here is, the drug increases blood flow which improves exercise capacity, which is great for endurance. Excellent if you are a tennis player needing a bit of stamina.

This means that the drug Sharapova was taking was a performance enhancing drug. It's amazing that the authorities have only just added it to its banned list.

It's even more amazing that her doctor prescribed the drug when he must have known it was performance enhancing, even if it wasn't on the banned list. You would be thinking, wouldn't you, this will eventually catch up.

Sharapova says it was prescribed because she had a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes. Oh really ? I'm not a doctor, but I find that excuse hard to swallow.

She has been on a performance enhancing drug for a decade -fact. She will surely be banned for the obligatory two years and so her career at 31 will be pretty much over.

Sharapova's lucky she's not getting some of her titles stripped as well.

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Move to deport au pair 'ruthless'

Immigration New Zealand's judgement failed them badly when they deported an 18-year-old au pair for allegedly being in breach of a holiday visa.

An Australian couple brought their children's au pair with them on a family holiday to Queenstown - claiming she wouldn't be paid or expected to work while in New Zealand.

If a person is undertaking an activity for gain or reward and includes any payment or benefit that can be valued in terms of money, which in this case meant the au pair's airfares and accommodation, then you need a work visa. The au pair didn't have a work visa so Immigration New Zealand threw her in jail and deported her the next day.

This was a ruthless irrational application of the law.

A rationale common sense application would have been:

* 18 year old on holiday for one week with sponsoring family - has return ticket.
* Very low risk of overstaying, no risk to New Zealand security.
* Entry granted.

There was no call for Immigration New Zealand's over zealous ruling. It certainly defied logic to throw her in jail.

As such it was unsurprising to see the Prime Minister say, "It sounds pretty harsh to be deporting someone because they're babysitting when they're and au pair".

Its worrying.

I'm sure there a lot of dodgy people presenting at our border and Immigration needs to strictly apply the law. The last thing we need is illegal and possibly dangerous people roaming this country. The young au pair wasn't such a case. She was "easy pickings".

It was an obvious case where discretion should have been applied.


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