Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova is one of the highest paid women to play tennis in recent times after dominating the sport for over a decade. However, during a recent press conference, she dropped a life-changing bombshell that has people in her country absolutely outraged.
Speaking at a Los Angeles hotel, Sharapova was initially expected to announce her retirement, and while what she said will likely end her career, she didn’t exactly tell the world she was retiring. Sadly, Sharapova, like so many other young athletes striving to get ahead, made the horrible decision to use performance enhancing drugs while she competed across the world, according to MailOnline.
Apparently, she was busted with the drug in her system earlier this year, and last night, she admitted to using it for over a decade, which means that all five of her Grand Slam titles were won while doping. Bummer.
The highest earning athlete in any female sport outright admitted to using Mildronate – or Meldonium – which was banned by the International Tennis Federation as of January 1 of this year. As a result, the league will suspend Sharapova indefinitely as of March 12.
MailOnline has more:
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.
‘I am still working through my injury and that is the reason I withdrew from Palm Springs, because I have still not healed my injury.
Asked if she knew what the consequences of her failed test may be, Sharapova added: ‘I do not. This is very new for me, I just received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF.’
In Sharapova’s defense, for the previous decade the substance wasn’t banned by the ITF, but the new rule change is what led to trouble. Now she faces a suspension of up to several years.
“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,” insisted the Russian. “But on January 1st the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance which I had not known.”
She claims that her family doctor first put her on the drug in 2006 because of “health issues,” such as a magnesium deficiency and a genetic disposition towards diabetes. However, it’s also been used for years by Russian athletes to enhance their performance, and many have been banned from other sports after testing positive for it.
Sharapova’s ultimate fate has yet to be decided, but many are speculating that this may be the end of her otherwise widely successful career.
The ITA’s full statement on the incident is below:
On 26 January 2016, Ms Sharapova provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with her participation in the 2016 Australian Open.
‘That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Code and, therefore also the TADP.
‘In accordance with Article 8.1.1 of the TADP, Ms Sharapova was charged on 2 March with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
‘Ms Sharapova has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January.
‘As meldonium is a non-specified substance under the WADA (and, therefore, TADP) list of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods, Ms Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case.’