Amid speculation she was announcing the end of her illustrious tennis career, the five-time grand slam champion called a press conference overnight to tell the media she failed a test for Meldonium, a substance that has been illegal since January 1 this year.
While the 28-year-old refused to speculate on how long she might be banned from the court, the International Tennis Federation confirmed she has been “provisionally suspended”.
“Ms Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case,” a statement read.
Sharapova received a letter from the Federation several days ago, after failing a drug test submitted on January 26.
She said said she did so in ignorance and made “a huge mistake”.
Watch a snippet of the interview below. (Post continues after video).
Telling the room she has been taking Meldonium – a drug which is typically used to clinically treat angina and myocardial infarction – since 2006, Sharapova failed to check the World Anti Doping Agency’s list of newly banned substances for 2016.
“I failed the test and take full responsibility for that,” said Sharapova, adding:
“I had been taking this medicine for the past 10 years, but on 1 January this became a prohibited substance which I did not know.”
The reasoning behind the Meldonium ban is that it aids athletes’ endurance and rehabilitation. An email was sent out by the international agency on the 22nd of December 2015, indicating that the substance had been upgraded from the ‘watch list’ to banned substances. Sharapova has admitted that while she received that email, she did not read it.
Currently ranked seventh in the world, Sharapova’s recent performances have been marred by injury and frustration. It was her recent form that sparked rumours her press conference was called to announce her retirement from the game.
On these rumours, all Sharapova had to say was that when she chooses to hang up her racket, it won’t be in a “a hotel in downtown Los Angeles with some pretty ugly carpet.”
What punishment do you think Sharapova should face?