Poor drug disgraced tennis ace Maria Sharapova was fooled by the changed status of a performance enhancing drug. Here's thirteen more unlucky sports stars whose reputations were tragically hurt by truly exceptional circumstances.

1) Read my lips...I did not take that drug. French tennis player Richard Gasquet said he got cocaine in his system after kissing a girl in Miami. And let's face it, Miami can be a bit like that. What's more, an anti-doping tribunal believed him although the girl cried foul.

2) Which brings us to Spain's Olympic walking champ Daniel Plaza, who said a positive nandrolone test was down to have oral sex with his pregnant wife.

3) Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, an All-Star MVP (in other words - he was quite good), spent $10,000 on a fake website promoting a fake supplement as part of a plot to explain away his high testosterone count in 2012. The Feds got involved, and Melky struck out before his excuse could take hold.


Rachel Smalley: Sharapova's excuses are paper-thin

4) Olympic 400m champ LaShawn Merritt reckoned an over-the-counter penis enlargement product caused him to test positive to a banned substance which has a name so long that it may have been longer than...no we won't go there. Merritt got 21 months in the sports slammer and reckoned: "If it can happen to me, it could happen to you." Huh?

5) Cheating baseball superstar Barry Bonds thought a trainer was rubbing flax seed oil over his body but whaddayaknow, it turned out to be steroids. "I know that doesn't make a great story," Bonds' lawyer claimed. Wrong pal. That makes a great story, which is why we are repeating it here.

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Ex-champ Jennifer Capriati's fury after Maria Sharapova's positive drug test
Nike cut ties with Sharapova
6) The meat lovers' cheater. Czech tennis player Petr Korda blamed all the nandrolone in veal for his positive steroids test in the late 1990s. Some mis-steak. Scientists revealed Kora must have eaten 40 calves a day for 20 years to get his levels so high. Doesn't leave much room for the veg.

7) Even pigeon racing is dirty. Dutch cyclist Ardri van der Poel tested positive for strychnine, a rat poison which is also a stimulant for tired legs. He blamed his father-in-law's pigeon pie, made from racing birds primed on the performance enhancing strychnine. His father-in-law was no slouch either - Raymond Poulidor who won seven Tour de France stages.

8) The masking agents found in Aussie cricketer Shane Warne's sample were down to the diuretic pill his mum gave him to get rid of a double chin. Warnie outed his mum on the fat pill front because he wanted everyone to know he hadn't got it from "the black market...any dodgy brothers." Oh that's all right then.

9) French runner Fatima Yvelain got EPO in her system after water tainted by "unidentified medical waste" on a half-marathon course splashed on her shorts then soaked through her skin. And let's face it, this sort of thing happens all the time.

10) Barking mad Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbrouke said various drugs including EPO found during a police raid were for his dog. Vandenbrouke's very troubled and public life came to a sad end in a hotel room in 2009.

11) Yes, another cyclist. Olympic gold medallist Tyler Hamilton suggested foreign blood cells in his body came from his twin that died in his mother's womb. Oh that old excuse.

12) American track gold medallist Dennis Mitchell's extra testosterone came from having five beers and at least four sexual encounters with his wife the night before a 1998 test. "It was her birthday...the lady deserved a treat," said Mitchell. Whatever happened to the candlelit dinner?


13) Another vanishing baby. Bulgarian tennis player Sesil Karatancheva attributed one of her two positive tests for nandrolone to being pregnant. Slight problem - urine samples showed no pregnancy.