Former world number one Maria Sharapova, 28, revealed today March 7th that she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open. The five-time Grand Slam champion tested positive for meldonium, a substance she says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues.
“I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it. For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor and a few days ago after I received a letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation] I found out it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know.”
“It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on Wada’s banned list and I had been legally taking that medicine for the past 10 years. But on 1 January the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known. I received an email on 22 December from Wada about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items – and I didn’t click on that link.”
“I made a huge mistake. I have let my fans down, and let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply.
“I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope to be given another chance to play this game.”
“I know many of you thought that I would be retiring today but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet,” she said.
The Russian beauty was charged on March 2nd. She is officially suspended pending further action.