The Russian five-time grand-slam champion on Monday announced that she had been notified by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) of a failed test during the Australian Open in January. Sharapova said she was taking the drug meldonium for 10 years to address a number of health issues.
“I take full responsibility for it”.
“I was getting sick very often and I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes”.
“It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list and I had legally been taking the medicine for the past 10 years”.
Former British number one Annabel Croft believes if Sharapova is given a two-year ban or more for failing a drug test it could spell the end of her career.
“I know I face consequences and I didn’t want to end my career this way. I really hope to be given another chance to play this game”. However, the World Anti-Doping Agency [Wada] placed meldonium on the banned substances list on 1 January 2016 due to “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”, and Sharapova claims that neither she nor any of her management checked the updated list ahead of the Australian Open.
“Hold your horses everyone – about Maria – I don’t have all the facts, I hope it’s an honest mistake, stuff was legal as far as I know till 2015″, wrote American Great Martina Navratilova.
“I know with this that I face consequences”, she continued. She said that on January 1, rules changed to make the drug illegal, but she was not aware. It is listed by WADA among its prohibited metabolic modulators, along with insulin, and some researchers say it can also help recovery.
Sharapova and her team will now go through the doping process for the next few weeks and months trying to get any suspension reduced.
The Russian native is ranked No. 7 in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association.
“I am very saddened to hear this news about Maria”, WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement.
“The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a comprehensive and internationally recognised drug-testing programme that applies to all players competing at Grand Slam tournaments and events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA”. Nevertheless…it is every player’s responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible.