The reigning WNBA MVP, Elena Delle Donne, has been denied her medical opt-out request by the league.
The Washington Mystics star initially made the request because of her chronic Lyme disease and the need to prioritize her health in the upcoming season due to coronavirus concerns.
After being denied her request, Delle Donne was reportedly sad, angry, and disappointed. She is now taking these feelings and turning them into action.
Delle Donne was the 2019 WNBA MVP for the championship-winning Mystics. On Tuesday, she announced the league was essentially making her choose between her paycheck and her health.
Delle Donne’s request includes opting out of playing in the upcoming WNBA season beginning on July 15 in a bubble in Bradenton, Fla., much like the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Fla. Before receiving her denial, the player had not even considered the panel would deny her request.
She claims no explanation was given to her as to why her request was denied. She is also not allowed to appeal the decision, which is a major part of the issue.
The panel in charge of making decisions like these includes a WNBA doctor, a WNBPA doctor, and a doctor paid by both parties. The decision of the majority rules.
Delle Donne has Always Been Public About Her Illness
The star athlete did not expect the panel’s decision after relapsing in 2011 from Lyme disease yet again. She claims her life is already consumed by being immunocompromised and would have hoped the panel understood the situation is in.
She has played her entire professional career while managing the chronic disease.
The panel’s ruling has caused major controversy amongst the public as many sports fans are in support of Delle Donne being approved for a medical opt-out. COVID-19 cases are not decreasing by any means, and keeping individuals healthy is already a struggle, much less, individuals that are immunocompromised.
Delle Donne wrote in a public essay that she hopes to be a role model for others living with Lyme disease. She wants to stand in solidarity with others facing the difficulty of having to choose between work and health.
There are currently millions of Americans out of work and many others trying to decide whether to return to work or stay home and stay safe.
She also highlighted that there are so many unknown aspects of both Lyme disease and COVID-19. Both are diseases that do not have much research. The impact they have on the immune system isn’t known to health professionals, making it even more concerning.
Delle Donne is confused as to how a panel of doctors was able to come to their conclusion after her years of medical struggles and several of her own doctors not wanting her to play. She claims it should be enough to hear her doctor say it is not safe.
If Delle Donne had been approved for the medical opt-out, she would have been allowed to sit-out for the season. Now she must face the choice to either play or give up a large sum of her $215,000 annual salary.
If she chooses to play, as the WNBA has suggested, she risks putting her health on the line.
Mike Thibault, the Mystics coach, said Delle Donne is still being paid as of now.
Delle Donne says the biggest concern is managing financially if she doesn’t play. She says, fortunately, she and her wife are in the financial position to be able to make that decision with less pressure versus other Americans in times of COVID-19.
Delle Donne hopes that her activism toward the situation and her disease can spread awareness toward the fragility of both. She hopes others get the medical opt-outs they deserve and spread a message of humility and understand.