MARIA SHARAPOVA said on Monday that she had been notified by the International Tennis Federation that she tested positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open in January.
The Russian, born in 1987 in the town on Nyagan in Siberia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region, said she had been taking Mildronate since 2006.
Sharapova, due to her sporting achievements, good looks and lucrative advertising deals with top international brands, has been at the top of Forbes’ list of wealthiest female athletes for over a decade, made the announcement and claimed that a change in ITF drug rules had caused the problem.
Sharapova said she received an email from the World Anti-Doping Agency in December that noted changes to tennis’s program for 2016. She said that the email including a link to a list of banned substances, but that she did not look at it.
She admitted her fault for taking the drug and was quick to admonish anyone else from blame.
Sharapova explained that the positive test result was caused by the drug meldonium, which she had been legally taking for the last 10 years and was only included on the forbidden list on January 1, 2016.
‘I failed the test and take full responsibility for that,’ she said.‘I had been taking this medicine for the past 10 years, but on January 1 this became a prohibited substance which I did not know.
‘I received an email on 22 December from WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items, and I didn’t click that link.
“Throughout my long career I have been very open and honest about many things,” .
“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my job every single day, I made a huge mistake. I made a huge mistake, I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I’ve been playing since the age four,” the 28-year-old said.
‘I made a huge mistake. ‘I know I face consequences and I didn’t want to end my career this way. ‘I hope I will be given the chance to play this game again.’
“I know that with this, I face consequences, and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope I will be given another chance,” Maria said. “I can’t blame anyone for it but myself. At the end of the day, everything you do is about you.”
Though the Russian does not know what the consequences will be, but surely a ban is expected to be implemented, however, Sharapova hopes that she will return to competitive tennis.
Sharapova, 28, is one of the most recognizable faces in the sport and was ranked as world number seven at the time of her announcement.
Maria first became World No.1 in August of 2005 at the age of 18 and repeated the achievement four times, occupying the first spot in women’s tennis for a total of 21 weeks.
Maria has been playing professional tennis since 2001, winning 35 WTA tour titles.
WHAT IS MELDONIUM?
It is used medically to treat ischemia, cold or a lack of blood flow, as well as other common illness.
It can be used as a metabolic enhancer to increase endurance through greater blood flow.
The Institute of Biochemistry – Center for Preventive Doping Research, German Sport University Cologne said of the drug: ‘Anti-ischemic drug Mildronate demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activation of central nervous system (CNS) functions.’
The drug was added to the banned list because the World Doping Anti-Agency said there ‘evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.’