Two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has been denied her request to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season through the league's medical protocol, her agent has told ESPN.

The Washington Mystics star now has two options. She can play the season, even though she has a compromised immune system with Lyme disease, or she can opt out and not receive her salary for the season.  

"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," Delle Donne said in a statement obtained by ESPN.


The WNBA's independent panel of physicians evaluated all players that wished to medically opt out of the season and receive pay. The panel heavily relies on the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to evaluate the players' health and risk, according to ESPN. Lyme disease is not on the CDC's list to suggest underlying conditions that puts someone at additional risk for COVID-19. 

The 30-year-old was diagnosed with the disease back in high school after being infected from a tick bite. The disease is a bacterial infection that spread to joints. Regularly, she suffers from tiredness and her muscles do not recover at the same rate as other athletes. The disease also forces her to eat extremely healthy and avoid inflammatory foods. To regularly battle the disease, Delle Donne has to take up to 50 supplements a day.


Delle Donne did not travel with the Mystics to the WNBA's bubble in Bradenton, Fla., last week. She, along with Tina Charles, was waiting on the decision to be medically excused. The team was expecting to complete the entire condensed 22-game season with only 10 players due to salary cap constraints. 

Delle Donne says that she wants to play this season but her personal physician did not recommend her traveling down to IMG Academy for the season. 

"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," Delle Donne said in her statement to ESPN.

At the least, this means the Mystics will be able to expand from their constricted 10-person roster. If the six-time All-Star chooses not to play and forgo her salary, it opens up cap space for the Mystics to sign one, potentially two more players. She was set to make the league maximum $215,000 this season, according to Spotrac. Of course, if she decides to play it gives Washington one of the top players in the league.

If Charles is denied as well, there could be even more financial flexibility for Washington. The decision on Charles has not been decided yet.

Delle Donne just re-upped her contract on a four-year deal in D.C. Last season, she had arguably the best season of her career averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds while joining the elusive 50-40-90 club.