Maria Sharapova has confirmed that she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open earlier this year.
After calling a press conference, most expected Sharapova to announce her retirement from the game after struggling with injuries throughout the early part of 2016.
However, that was not the case at all as the 28-year-old confessed to testing positive for Meldonium at the year’s first grand slam in Melbourne.
Meldonium is a medicine Sharapova has taken for 10 years. However, it became a prohibited substance on January 1 2016. Sharapova received a letter on December 22 from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) informing her of the changes. She admitted that she did not look at the revised list.
“I received a letter from the ITF last week that I failed a drug test at the Australian Open,” she said. “I did fail the test and I take full responsibility.
“For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called Mildronate by my family doctor. A few days ago, after I received the ITF letter I found out it also has another name – Meldonium – which I did not know.
“It’s very important for you to know that, for 10 years, this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine for the past 10 years.
“But on January 1 the rules changed and Meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known.
“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. That is one of the medications, along with others, that I received.
“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.”
It had been thought that the Russian would be announcing her retirement from the sport after a run of injuries, with the revelation of a failed drugs test coming as a shock.
“If I was going to announce my retirement, it wouldn’t be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet,” Sharapova said.
“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day. I made a huge mistake.
“I let my fans down. I let my sport down.
“I don’t want to end my career this way, and I really hope I get another chance.”
When asked if she knew what the consequences of her actions were going to be, Sharapova answered: “I do not, this is very new to me. I only received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF.”
The International Tennis Federation has since announced that Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from March 12.
Statement from tennis anti-doping program confirming Sharapova’s positive test & provisional suspension pic.twitter.com/sZGSSDeuDN
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) March 7, 2016