Friday 2 December 2016

'I don't want to end my career this way' - Maria Sharapova suspended after failing drugs test

Published 07/03/2016 | 20:10

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Maria Sharapova will be provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation after revealing she failed a drug test at the Australian Open.

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The 28-year-old Russian revealed that she has been taking medicine given to her by her doctor for the past 10 years when it was not on the banned substances list.

However, on 1 January it was added to the list, with Sharapova claiming she was unaware of the development. The Russian confirmed that she accepts that she has failed a drugs test.

She will be provisionally suspended with effect from March 12, the International Tennis Federation confirmed this evening.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way and I hope that will have a chance to play again," she told reporters at a press conference in Los Angeles.

"I received a letter on 22 December from Wada for the changes next year and where the tests will be with a link to the changes for 2016 and I did not look at that list.

Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

A dejected looking Sharapova  took questions from the media despite being visibly upset and nervous while delivering her statement.

When asked if she knew what the consequences are, she answered: “I do not, this is very new to me. I only received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF.

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Reading from a written statement that lasted for nearly three minutes, Sharapova said she was given the substance by her family doctor to deal with sickness, a deficiency in magnesium, and her family's history of diabetes.

“I was first given the substance back in 2006. I had several health issues at the time, I was getting sick a lot of the time, I had deficiency in my magnesium, I had irregularities in my scans and I had signs of diabetes.”

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova speaks at a press conference in downtown Los Angeles, California, March 7, 2016. / AFP / Robyn BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The banned substance that Sharapova has tested positive for is called Meldonium, a blood flow drug that was added to World anti-doping list at the start of this year. It is used medically to improve blood flow, improves exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure and can also give an advantage to healthy athletes.

The five-time Grand Slam winner called the press conference ahead of a “major announcement”, with many observers expecting Sharapova to announce her retirement from the game.

"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 Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet."

A string of injuries she left the players struggling for form, with her last Grand Slam final appearance coming in Australia last year where she was beaten in straight sets by Serena Williams.

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