Andy Murray has criticised Head after it publicly backed Maria Sharapova following her failed drug test.
Murray, who along with Sharapova is sponsored by Head, was preparing to compete in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and discussed the tennis equipment company’s decision to stand by the Russian tennis ace after her public admission of a failed drug test at Australian Open.
The world number two ranked player said: “I think it's a strange stance given everything that's happened the last few days.
“I think at this stage it's important to get hold of the facts and let things play out, like more information coming out before making a decision to extend the contract.”
He added: “Personally I wouldn't have responded like that.”
Shortly after many of Sharapova’s other sponsors, including Nike, Tag Heurer and Porsche, publically distanced themselves from her, Head released a statement saying that it was “proud to stand behind Maria” and looked forward to “working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead.”
Murray displayed little sympathy for the five time grand slam winner’s reason for taking the drug, arguing that “if you're taking a prescription drug and you're not using it for what that drug was meant for, you don't need it. You're just using it for the performance enhancing benefits that drug is giving you, then that is wrong, clearly.”
He also called into question the prominence of the drug among athletes.
“I find it strange that there's a prescription drug used for heart conditions and so many athletes competing at the top level of their sport would have that condition. That sounds a bit off to me,” he said.
The negative news surrounding one of the sport’s most successful figures comes at a difficult time for sport which has also recently played witness to betting scandals. It is too early to tell whether the sponsorship appeal of tennis has been harmed by the negative publicity, however, tennis figure heads such as Serena Williams have been quick to dispel any notion that Sharapova’s use of a performance enhancing drug was indicative of a wider drug problem within tennis.
While promoting her Madison Square Garden exhibition against Caroline Wozniacki, Williams said: “We live in a massive world with billions of people and we have a few people that do things and it makes people scared, but that doesn't make the whole world a bad place.”