After making announcement on Monday (March 7) that she had failed drug test Maria Sharapova said she took full responsibility for taking banned substance Meldonium.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 7, 2016)(REUTERS) – Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has lost sponsors since she announced on Monday (March 7) that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open due to a substance she was taking for health issues.
Longtime sponsor Nike has announced it is suspending ties with Sharapova during the investigation, watchmaker Tag Heuer has decided not to renew its sponsoring contract with the tennis star and Porsche has postponed planned activities with Sharapova.
The 28-year-old Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion and the highest paid woman in sports, will be provisionally suspended starting March 12, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said.
“I have to take full responsibility of it because it’s my body and it’s what I put into my body,” said Sharapova, a teenage tennis prodigy who became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion. “I can’t blame any one for it but myself.”
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.
Over the past month, Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov, Russian figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova, Ethiopia-born athletes Endeshaw Negesse and Abeba Aregawi, and Ukraine biathletes Olga Abramova and Artem Tyshchenko have all tested positive for meldonium.
The former world number one told a news conference in a downtown Los Angeles hotel that she had received an email but neglected to open it.
“I received a letter on December 22 from WADA, an email with the changes happening for next year as well as reporting your whereabouts. And a link to a button you can press to see the prohibited items for 2016 and I did not look at that list,” she said.
WADA declined to comment until ITF issues a final decision.
Meldonium is not approved in the United States but is available in Russia, Latvia and other countries in that region.