Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova said on Monday she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open due to a substance she was taking for health issues, leading longtime sponsor Nike to announce it was suspending ties during the investigation.
She is the seventh athlete in a month to test positive for meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as of Jan. 1.
“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,” former world number one Sharapova told a news conference in a downtown Los Angeles hotel.
Two of Maria Sharapova’s top sponsors have suspended ties with the Russian tennis star after she admitted failing a doping test.
Sportswear giant Nike suspended its sponsorship, saying in a statement that it was “saddened and surprised by the news.” Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer says its deal with the Russian will not be renewed.
TAG Heuer said in a statement that its previous contract with Sharapova had expired at the end of 2015 and it has pulled out of negotiations on a new agreement.
The ITF’s anti-doping program calls for a four-year suspension for a positive test, but that ban can be reduced in various circumstances, such as for first-time offences or if the player shows no significant fault or negligence.
If a player bears no fault or negligence, there is no suspension.[…]