Elena Delle Donne on medical opt-out denial: ‘I was shocked’


But the Washington Mystics star, who has battled Lyme disease for years, also wonders how her body would react if she contracted Covid-19 while playing.

However, Delle Donne, 30, said in a statement that her personal physician had told her that she’s indeed at high risk.

The panel of doctors was approved by the league and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA).

“I was shocked,” Delle Donne, also a WNBPA vice president, told CNN on Wednesday. “And the process makes it hard because there’s no ability to even appeal and I wasn’t able to speak with the panel.”

In an essay in The Players Tribune on Wednesday, Delle Donne revealed that she takes 64 pills a day, and she told CNN it takes a toll on her.

“It does, and it scares me,” Delle Donne 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.”

The WNBA, when reached by CNN on Monday, declined to comment on Delle Donne’s opt-out request, citing privacy concerns on health matters.

“As with all of our players, we have and will support Elena throughout this process,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault said in a statement on Monday. “The health and well-being of our players is of the utmost importance.”

WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson said in an email Wednesday to CNN, “It’s inappropriate for the PA to comment on a player’s medical status. EDD is a valued and trusted member of our player leadership. We support her 1000%.”

Delle Donne is still weighing whether to play this season, which begins on July 25 and will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. If she decides not to play, she said she would get “zero percent” of her salary and wouldn’t be getting most of her endorsements.

“We don’t make NBA money, and I think that’s been well covered and people understand that,” Delle Donne said. “You know, my bank account isn’t as deep as if I was making NBA money, but I do know that our league is growing. With our latest CBA agreement, we made huge strides in getting players paid more. And we’re continuing to grow our game and grow this league.

“I’ve invested so much in this league and I’ve seen it grow so much in my years of being here. So, for a moment like this, to kind of just feel like, blighted, has been tough, but this stuff happens, and I hope we can move forward and this can just be a learning experience.”

She told CNN she wants to make her decision as soon as possible, saying, “I don’t want this to drag on. I don’t want my teammates in the bubble having to deal with this.”

However, she expressed that she is fortunate to be in a position to make a choice.

“I know there’s so many people through Covid who have lost their jobs, who haven’t been able to decide whether to take care of themselves health-wise or go to work because they just don’t have the option,” Delle Donne said. “So, I know I’m in a situation where I am super blessed and I’m just going to have to figure this out and decide what’s going to be the best route.”

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