Tennis player Maria Sharapova announced on Monday that she had failed a drug test at January’s Australian Open. She recently received a letter from the International Tennis Federation confirming the failed drug test and at the moment she is unsure of what her penalty will be, but knows that she is suspended in the meantime.
“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day,” she said. “I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let my sport down.”
Maria said that she had been taking the drug mildronate for years to address health issues like low levels of magnesium. She was unaware that mildronate is the same drug as meldonium, the latter of which is banned from the sport because it increase blood flow in the body which increases the flow of oxygen and endurance levels.
There were recent changes to the list of banned drugs sent out by the World Anti-Doping Agency in December to go into effect in January of this year, and Maria claims that she did not read the list to see if the drug was on it.
She went to say:
“I know with this that I face consequences. I don’t want to end my career this way, and I really hope I’m given another chance to play this game.”
Despite the potential that the error was an innocent one, her sponsors are already taking distance. Nike was the first to suspend their deal, which is reportedly worth $70 million. The Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer was the next to announce the dissolution of their relationship which had been in place since 2004.
According to her lawyer John Haggerty:
“She is very organized, and she takes her career very seriously, which is why when she first started to take this back in 2006, she made sure it was approved, that it wasn’t on the banned list and checked in future years. It was just an honest mistake. We’re not making excuses, but because she had taken it for so many years and it was OK year after year, it just fell off the radar.”
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