Daily Express


Grand Slam winner tested positive at Australian Open

- By John David

THE WORLD of tennis is in shock this morning after five- time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova revealed she has failed a drugs test.

The former world No1 tested positive for a newly banned substance at this year’s Australian Open. She said yesterday that, although she had been taking the drug for a decade to deal with sickness, a magnesium defi ciency and her family’s history of diabetes, she has “let her fans down” and “takes full responsibi­lity”.

Reading a statement that lasted almost three minutes during a news conference in

Los Angeles last night, Sharapova said: “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 10 years.

“But on January 1 the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known. I had received an email on December 22 from WADA about changes to the banned list. You can see prohibited items – and I didn’t click on that link.”

Sharapova will now be provisiona­lly suspended from March 12.

She said: “For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor. A few days ago, after I received a letter from the Internatio­nal Tennis Federation saying

I had failed a drugs test, I found out it has another name, meldonium, which I did not know.

“I was given this medicine for several health issues that I was having in 2006. I was getting sick very often and I had a defi ciency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes and there were signs of diabetes. I take full responsibi­lity for it.

“Throughout my long career I have been very open and honest about many things and I take great responsibi­lity and profession­alism in my job and I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let the sport down I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply.

“I know with this I face consequenc­es and I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.” Sharapova won her fi rst Grand Slam as a 17- year- old at Wimbledon in 2004 and has since triumphed at the 2006 US Open, the 2008 Australian Open and the French Open twice, in 2012 and 2014.

The highest- paid female athlete in world sport for the past 11 years, according to Forbes, Sharapova has earned a large part of her income through sponsor endorsemen­ts and has her own sweet business, Sugarpova. Many thought she had called the meeting to announce her retirement. But she said: “If I was ever going to announce my retirement it would probably not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.”

BRITISH No2 Heather Watson is up 31 places in the world rankings to 53 after beating Kirsten Flipkens to win the Monterrey Open.

 ??  ?? BAD CALL: Sharapova at this year’s Australian Open
BAD CALL: Sharapova at this year’s Australian Open
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