Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner and one of tennis’ greatest athletes admitted at a press conference on Monday that she tested positive for meldonium, a recently banned substance that she has been taking for 10 years for several health issues. “I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply. I know with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game,” the 28-year old athlete said at the press conference.
She went on to explain that she had been prescribed the blood-flow increasing drug by her family doctor back in 2006 under the name of “mildronate” and was unaware of its other name as well as the fact that it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list only this January. “I failed the test and I take full responsibility for it. I made a huge mistake,” she added.
The International Tennis Federation said that Sharapova would be provisionally suspended from March 12 onwards and, pending a decision from the Tennis Anti-Doping program, she could face up to a four-year ban. While such a severe punishment is unlikely for a first violation, The Guardian points out that even a one- or two-year ban could prove career-ending for the injury-prone athlete. As the world’s highest-paid woman in sports, grossing some $20m in endorsement deals each year, the revelation could also means a serious financial setback for Sharapova — Nike, one of her biggest sponsors, already announced it would suspend its relationship with the athlete, pending an investigation.
Read the full story at The Guardian.