WNBA star Elena Delle Donne denied season opt-out on health grounds despite 64-pills-per-day condition

Elena Delle Donne has written an open letter about the league
Elena Delle Donne has written an open letter about the league (SIPA USA/PA Images)
13:35pm, Thu 16 Jul 2020
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Women’s National Basketball Association star Elena Delle Donne says she is she is shocked that her bid to sit out the upcoming season on medical grounds has been denied. 

The decision means that the 30 year-old, who has lyme disease, would not receive any wages if she did not play.

She told CNN: "I was shocked. And the process makes it hard because there's no ability to even appeal and I wasn't able to speak with the panel."

The athlete, who revealed in an open letter to the The Players Tribune yesterday that she has to take 64 pills a day for her condition, said: "I mean I know that's not safe. I know that being on antibiotics for a long period of time isn't healthy but I also know that when I don't take that medication I feel awful and I can't play basketball.

"I can't even get out of bed at times, so it's just kind of what I have to do to live the most normal life possible."

According to the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lyme disease is not an ailment that makes you more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus. However, Delle Donne has said if she did contract it she could be open to more serious illnesses.

She told the BBC: “For me my body does not handle viruses like an average healthy body, so when Covid came around and this whole situation happened with the WNBA, in no way did I think they would deem me not high risk.”

However, despite the league protocol surrounding wages, Delle Donne’s club, the Washington Mystics, have said they will pay the player in full.

Head coach and general manager Mike Thibault said yesterday: "She is part of our roster, she is being paid and is continuing to rehab from her off-season back surgery.

"If at some point in the season we are all comfortable - and I mean all - with her physical progress and the safety of joining the team in Florida then we will make those arrangements.

"If we don't feel that, then she will continue to do her workouts in DC and get herself ready for the following season."

Delle Donne said she would make a decision soon on whether she will play.

"I don't want this to drag on. I don't want my team-mates in the bubble having to deal with this."

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