Shara­pova fails drug test, Nike sus­pends ties

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Rus­sian ten­nis star Maria Shara­pova said on Mon­day she had failed a drug test at the Aus­tralian Open due to a sub­stance she was tak­ing for health is­sues, lead­ing long­time spon­sor Nike to an­nounce it was sus­pend­ing ties dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The 28-year-old Shara­pova, a five-time grand slam cham­pion and the high­est paid woman in sports, will be pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended start­ing March 12, the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion (ITF) said.

She is the sev­enth ath­lete in a month to test pos­i­tive for mel­do­nium, which is used to treat di­a­betes and low mag­ne­sium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) as of Jan. 1.

"I made a huge mis­take. I let my fans down and I let the sport down," said Shara­pova, a teenage ten­nis prodigy who be­came the thirdy­oungest Wim­ble­don cham­pion. "I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for it."

"I know that with this I face con­se­quences and I don't want to end my ca­reer this way. I re­ally hope that I will be given an­other chance to play this game," for­mer world num­ber one Shara­pova told a news con­fer­ence in a down­town Los An­ge­les ho­tel.

Nike, the world's largest sports­wear maker, said it was "sad­dened and sur­prised" by the news and re­leased a state­ment say­ing it was putting ties on hold with the player.

"We have de­cided to sus­pend our re­la­tion­ship with Maria while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues," it said.

The ITF's anti-dop­ing pro­gram calls for a four-year sus­pen­sion for a pos­i­tive test, but that ban can be re­duced in var­i­ous cir­cum­stances, such as for first-time of­fences or if the player shows no sig­nif­i­cant fault or neg­li­gence.

If a player bears no fault or neg­li­gence, there is no sus­pen­sion. Ac­cord­ing to Forbes, she earned $29.5 mil­lion in 2015, mostly from en­dorse­ments. Shara­pova said her fam­ily doc­tor had been giv­ing her mil­dronate, which is also called mel­do­nium, for 10 years af­ter she fre­quently be­came sick, had ir­reg­u­lar EKG re­sults, a mag­ne­sium de­fi­ciency and a fam­ily his­tory of di­a­betes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.