Maria Shara­pova, 2016

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - ROYAL TRIBUTE -

Maria Shara­pova has long been the least-ad­mired ten­nis player among her peers, but even the sport’s top ech­e­lon were shocked when the Rus­sian was barred from the sport for two years, fol­low­ing a pos­i­tive drug test for the banned sub­stance mel­do­nium.

Maria had been tak­ing the med­i­ca­tion legally for 10 years. It was ini­tially de­signed for heart pa­tients but it also boosts en­durance and stamina, and was added to the list of banned sub­stances on Jan­uary 1, 2016. Just weeks later the star failed a test at the Aus­tralian Open.

Maria ad­mit­ted she re­ceived a letter in late 2015 ad­vis­ing her of the changes, but said she did not read it. “I take great re­spon­si­bil­ity in my job every day. I made a huge mis­take,” she said at a press con­fer­ence.

“I’ve let my fans down, I’ve let this sport down. I know that with this I face con­se­quences and I don’t want to end my ca­reer this way. I hope I will be given another chance to play this game again.”

Maria ap­pealed her two-year ban, which was even­tu­ally re­duced to 15 months. She returned to the court this April.

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