Sharapova confirms failed drug test, sanction uncertain
Sponsors suspend ties with Sharapova
Five-time Grand Slam tennis champion Maria Sharapova has announced that she failed a dope test at the Australian Open, and isn’t sure what punishment she’ll face for her “huge mistake.”
The former world number one from Russia yesterday said a change in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list for 2016 led to an inadvertent violation, for which she will be “provisionally suspended” by the International Tennis Federation.
In a sign of what the affair could mean to Sharapova’s mass of money-spinning endorsements, US sportswear maker Nike said it would halt its relationship with her as the case moves forward.
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” Nike said in a statement.
“We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues.”
Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium, a drug she said she had been taking since 2006 but was only added to the banned list this year.
“I did fail the test and I take full responsibility for it,” a sombre Sharapova said at a press conference at a downtown Los Angeles hotel yesterday.
“I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let my sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply,” added Sharapova, her voice wavering.
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.
Sharapova, a five-time major winner, on Monday said she failed a test at the Australian Open in January for the banned substance meldonium, a heart medication commonly sold in Eastern Europe. Meldonium was added to the banned list on Jan.