Monday, March 7, 2016 11:15 pm
Maria Sharapova, Russian tennis superstar and poster girl of many brands, has been suspended from tennis after revealing she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.
The International Tennis Federation announced a provisional suspension starting 12 March after the 28-year-old staged a news conference to make public the failed test.
Sharapova explained she had tested positive for meldonium, a substance prescribed by her family doctor since 2006.
Meldonium was added to the prohibited list on 1 January.
“I take full responsibility,” the 28-year-old career Grand Slam winner said during a Los Angeles press conference announcing that she had tested positive for Meldonium, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Sharapova said she took the medication for a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.
The Russian said she did not look at the updated ban list before taking the drug.
Sharapova told reporters in Los Angeles: “I did fail the test and I take full responsibility for it.
“I was first given the substance back in 2006. I had several health issues going on at the time.
“I was getting sick very often and I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes. That is one of the medications, along with others, that I received.”
She added: “I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down and I let the sport down. I have been playing since the age of four a sport that I love so deeply.
“I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game.”
In a statement the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) said meldonium was added to the 2016 Prohibited List which took effect on 1 January 2016, having previously been on WADA’s monitoring program for the duration of 2015.
“Meldonium was added [to the Prohibited List] because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance, ” added WADA.
Sharapova has won five grand slams and is currently ranked sixth in the world.
According to Forbes, she has been the most highly paid female athlete in the world for 11 years straight. She earned $29.5 million in 2015, mostly from endorsements.
*Reported by SkyNEWS and Reuters