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Apple Boss Dragged Into Nike Support For Drug Cheat Maria Sharapova Controversy

Apple boss Tim Cooke who sits on the board of Nike is set to face tough questions as to why the big sports brand is openly supporting drug cheat Maria Sharapova.


IMAGE THE Verge: Apple Boss Tim Cooke is a Nike Board member.

Nike, who is also into headphones and fitness trackers and is working closely with Apple on the development of wearable technology, appears to be sending a message to young athletes that it is okay to take banned substances.

Overnight Nike announced the resumption of its relationship with Russian, Maria Sharapova in an effort to generate publicity for themselves off the back of the controversy surrounding her drug taking.

Sharapova was banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation for using a prohibited drug.

The Russian was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open.

The heart disease drug, which 29-year-old Sharapova says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.

Nike has tried to justify its decision on the basis Sharapova that had been cleared of intentionally doping by taking meldonium. They chose to overlook the panel’s findings that she used it to enhance her performance.

It said in a statement: “The ITF tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules. Maria has always made her position clear, has apologised for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban.

“Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her.”

Tim Crow, chief executive of Synergy Sponsorship, told The London Telegraph: “So many people thought she had pulled off a masterstroke with the initial press conference – which, incidentally, I am amazed that tennis let her get away with – but it turned pretty quickly when a lot of the tennis voices started to go against her, including that of Andy Murray, who talked a lot of sense, as usual.

“In terms of future earnings, I mentioned at the time that her recent endorsements had been all about her image.

“Now, her image has taken a huge dent and she’s not going to be on a tennis court, so her earnings are only going to go one way.

It’s not known whether Nike is set to announce sponsorship of the Russian or Chinese Athletic teams for the upcoming RIO Olympics.