Maria Sharapova dropped a huge bombshell onto world tennis tonight when she admitted she had tested positive for a banned substance at January’s Australian Open.
Applying her legendary calm and determination, the five-times Grand Slam champion made a personal statement at a Los Angeles hotel confessing she had been caught out by tennis’s anti-doping operation.
The highest earning athlete in any female sport said that she had been found to have taken Mildronate – or Meldonium – which was prohibited from January 1 this year.
The International Tennis Federation has confirmed the star will be provisionally suspended from the sport March 12.
At a press conference which many assumed would be to announce her retirement after a spate of injuries, she delivered what is catastrophic news for her, the sport and women’s tennis in particular.
‘I had legally been taking this for ten years,’ said Sharapova, who conceded that she had received a notification from the International Tennis Federation on December 22 that it was being outlawed. She admitted that she did not follow an information link that was provided.
‘I take responsibility for my professionalism in my job and I made a big mistake. I know there will be consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope I will be given another chance to play tennis again. I can’t blame anyone but myself. I have let my fans down.
‘I know many of you thought I was retiring but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would probably not be in a downtown Lost Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.’
‘It made me healthy and that is why I continued to take it,’ Sharapova said of the banned substance after taking a small number of questions from the floor.
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