COLUMN: Sharapova scandal should not overshadow huge strides made in women’s sport

Eniola Aluko in action for England against Sweden. Picture by FRANK REID

Eniola Aluko in action for England against Sweden. Picture by FRANK REID

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The news of Maria Sharapova’s failed drugs test threatens to bring far too many negative headlines to the world of women’s sport.

Former tennis world number one Sharapova revealed this week she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old tested positive for meldonium, a substance she has been taking since 2006 for health issues.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the five-time Grand Slam champion would be provisionally suspended from March 12.

In the wake of the news, a host of sporting stars have condemned the Russian.

And rightly so.

However, this one instance of sporting foul play should not overshadow the huge strides that women’s sport has made over the past few years.

Just in Britain, the feel-good vibes can be found in many examples.

From Olympic gold medallist boxer Nicola Adams to cyclist-turned-jockey Victoria Pendleton, success can be found in many shapes and forms when it comes to women in sport.

With football being the most popular sport in the country it is always a struggle for the female side of the game to get a word in edgeways compared to the men’s game.

However, their exploits at the World Cup last year really made everyone sit up and admire the talent within the game in this country.

The only shame is that they will not get to show off their skills at this year’s Olympics - after plans to field a GB side were halted by protests from the Irish, Scottish and Welsh FA’s.

Nevertheless, the English women continue to fly the flag for football in this country and even the video game industry is cottoning on to the fact that there is big bucks to be had in women’s sport.

The hugely successful FIFA video game series adopted women’s teams for the first time ever in its latest instalment FIFA 16.

The fact that youngsters can now play as their heroes in the female world of soccer is surely a turning point for women’s sport.

With more exposure, most of it positive (notwithstanding the Sharapova saga), in the mainstream media and a growing profile, women’s sport looks like it has turned a corner.

And long may it continue.