Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

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Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has been banned from competitive tennis for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The ban is the result of positive tests and Sharapova's own admissions that she had used meldonium, an alleged performance-enhancing drug that was just placed on World Anti-Doping Agency's List of Prohibited Substances and Materials this year.

Here's a look at the ban, and Sharapova's options to appeal the decision.

Rafael Nadal has filed a defamation lawsuit against Roselyne Bachelot, France's former minister for health and sport, claiming that statements she made regarding doping damaged his reputation. Bachelot was on French television last month and said Nadal's seven-month injury hiatus in 2012 was "probably due to a positive doping test."

Nadal lashed back, saying, "I am tired about these things. I let it go a few times in the past. No more." The 14-time Grand Slam champion added, "this is going to be the last one because I'm going to sue her."

The highest-earning female athlete in the world admitted she failed a drug test for a banned performance enhancing substance. Maria Sharapova announced on Monday she tested positive for meldonium at January's Australian Open.

So what in the world is meldonium? How long will Sharapova be suspended, if at all? And what does that mean for her sponsorships, which have paid her in the neighborhood of $200 million?

NCAA Concussion Settlement: $75M, New Guidelines Proposed

The NCAA has reached a $75 million settlement agreement in the various concussion cases filed against it, with new guidelines proposed for each of its member schools.

According to USA Today, the proposed settlement doesn't include any damages for the individual plaintiffs named in the suits, but it allows these players to file "separate personal injury lawsuits." The $75 million instead will go toward medical monitoring for current and former NCAA players, as well as research.

What else should fans know about this NCAA settlement?

N.J. Bans Taunts, 'Trash Talk' in High School Sports

Trash talk is being taken out of New Jersey high school sports, pursuant to a new state policy that bans taunting in an attempt to curb bullying.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), along with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, announced the new policy last week. It prohibits high-school athletes from harassing others on the field or court, and takes effect this fall, reports the Associated Press.

Will this ban be the end of trash talking in New Jersey?

U.S. Open Security Guards Complain About Employment Violations

So what's it like to work behind the grandest New York sporting event -- the U.S. Open? Well, it's not as glamorous as one would think, if the claims of a group of U.S. Open security guards are true.

The U.S. Open tennis tournament just finished with one of the most exciting finals ever. But just as Andy Murray was finishing off Novak Djokovic in a five-set classic, several security guards working the event came public with allegations of the violations they had to endure working the event, reports The Village Voice.

The U.S. Open security guards made a variety of claims running the gamut of employment law. Below is a quick overview of the claims made by the guards, as reported by The Village Voice:

Lois Ann Goodman was arrested at a Manhattan hotel for allegedly killing her husband.

The 70-year-old U.S. Open tennis referee is accused of bludgeoning her husband to death with a coffee mug at their home in California, reports The New York Times.

While the tennis referee was quietly apprehended by police at her hotel, police indicate they were prepared to arrest her at the tennis tournament if necessary.

U.S. Open Tennis Umpires Illegally Denied Overtime: Federal Lawsuit

Possibly putting a damper on the annual tennis tournament currently underway in New York, a group of four U.S. Open umpires have filed a federal wage lawsuit against the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), claiming that the organization misclassified the officials as independent contractors so that they could avoid offering overtime pay and other benefits.

Seeking class action status, the lawsuit covers all U.S. Open umpires since 2005, many of whom were only paid between $115 and $200 a day despite working in excess of 40 hours a week.

USC Files Appeal to NCAA in Football Sanctions Case

The University of Southern California has filed an appeal with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, arguing that the sanctions placed on the university football program be reduced. The appeal did not contest all aspects of the sanctions, but argued that much of the punishment was overly severe and "inconsistent with precedent." The NCAA punishment included four years of probation, a two-year post season bowl ban, removal of championships and a loss of multiple scholarships. 

The sanctions came after a four-year investigation of the entire athletic department, which found numerous violations of NCAA rules. The report focused largely on improper benefits for Heisman winning, and now NFL star running back Reggie Bush as well as former basketball player O.J. Mayo. The report found that Bush was showered with gifts and other improper benefits from sports marketers hoping to sign him after he turned professional. The gifts included limousine transportation, hotel stays, clothing, and even a home for Bush's family. 

Yesterday we looked at how the Southeastern Conference, the NFL, and professional tennis were attempting to impose limits on the use of social media by pretty much every group associated with sports -- players, team and league employees, media outlets, and even fans. Today, we examine 3 reasons that those policies are a losing effort.

1. Fighting consumer demand for new technology never works. The TV industry has tried fighting TiVo and YouTube. The music industry is coming up on a decade of flailing away against overwhelming consumer demand for digital music downloads. Movies may be starting to feel a "Twitter effect" from near-instantaneous reviews of films.

Add sports to that list of entertainment industries that cannot escape the grip of new media technologies. Social media is here to stay, in one form or another, and its use will only become more widespread. Being a fan is an inherently social experience, and fans have flocked to places like Facebook and Twitter as new means of sharing their joy and heartbreak. It's only a matter of time before someone starts going to Yankees games and tweeting every pitch -- and there will be an audience for it.