Five-time Grand Slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova is facing a potential career-ending suspension following a positive drugs test.
Sharapova called a press conference on Monday to reveal that she had received a letter from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) stating that she had failed a drugs test at this years Australian Open.
The former Australian Open champion tested positive for Meldonium, which also goes by the name of Mildronate. Meldonium is a drug used to increase circulation to the body and has been used to treat patients with heart conditions.
Sharapova stated that she had been using the drug for the past 10 years due to a history of diabetes within her family and a magnesium deficiency that led to her becoming sick easily.
The World Anti Doping Authority (WADA) added Meldonium to its banned substance list as of January 1, 2016 after monitoring the drug’s use throughout 2015.
As a result of the failed test Sharapova has been provisionally suspended as of March 12 pending further investigation, and will have to give back the $400,000 prize money she won for reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open.
In her press conference, Sharapova accepted full responsibility for the failed test and said that she had made a huge mistake, letting the sport and her fans down in the process.
The Russian tennis star is one of the highest paid female athletes of all time thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals with major companies Nike, Porsche, and TAG Heuer. Upon hearing of the failed test all three sponsors have suspended their affiliation with Sharapova. – Luke Cullen
Screengrab of Maria Sharapova’s press conference from TheMaless’s YouTube.