Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne says her request to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season for medical concerns has been denied by the league's panel of physicians.
In a statement released to ESPN on Monday, the reigning WNBA MVP says it's a decision that goes against advice she received from her own doctor. Delle Donne has dealt with chronic Lyme disease since 2008.
"The independent panel of doctors the league appointed to review high-risk cases have advised that I'm not high risk, and should be permitted to play in the bubble," said Delle Donne. "I love my team, and we had an unbelievable season last year, and I want to play! But the question is whether or not the WNBA bubble is safe for me. My personal physician who has treated me for Lyme disease for years advised me that I'm at high risk for contracting and having complications from COVID-19."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is not on the list of underlying conditions that could put a person at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The WNBA's panel of doctors considers the CDC's guidelines for high-risk case evaluation.
The league's panel of doctors advises whether a player can be medically excused for the season, which is scheduled to start at the end of July. Players deemed to be "high risk" or who have a medical reason to opt-out will receive their full salary. Players who don't meet that threshold according to the panel can still opt out and skip the season, but they won't get paid their salary.
Delle Donne has yet to travel with her teammates to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where the league has gathered for the season.
Spokespeople for the Mystics and WNBA did not respond to requests for comment.