Doping ban

Nike and Head tennis rackets announce their support of Maria Sharapova

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: Maria Sharapova attends the Maria Sharapova and Friends tennis event presented by Porsche on December 13, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Porsche)

Maria Sharapova has the support of most of her corporate sponsors following the announcement Wednesday by the International Tennis Federation that she would be barred from playing for two years for a positive doping test earlier this year. Nike, which has worked with Sharapova since she was 11 years old and is currently engaged in an eight-year, $70 million deal with her, announced its support after the ITF’s decision.

“Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban. Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her,” Nike said in a statement.

INDIAN WELLS, CA - MARCH 10: Maria Sharapova's Nike products are seen for sale in the merchandise store during day four of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2016 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova’s Nike products are seen for sale in the merchandise store. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Bottled water company Evian also announced it was sticking with Sharapova, and the tennis racket company Head released a statement criticizing the decision to suspend her. In its decision, ITF faulted Sharapova for taking the banned substance meldonium to enhance her performance, but said she did not intentionally break the league’s doping rules because meldonium only became a banned substance on January 1 of this year. She is appealing the suspension.

Sharapova did lose the support of watch company TAG Heuer, which said it would consider working with her again the future, the cosmetics company Avon, which said its arrangement with Sharapova was a “limited engagement” anyway, and Porsche, which said it would wait to see the outcome of her appeal before deciding.

Read the full story at the BBC.


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