Former tennis world No.1 Maria Sharapova admitted yesterday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open due to a substance she has been taking the last 10 years for health issues.
The 28-year-old Russian, a five-time grand slam champion, tested positive for meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as of January 1.
"I received a letter from the ITF (International Tennis Federation) saying that I had failed a drug test at the Australian Open - and I take full responsibility for it," Sharapova said.
"For the past 10 years, I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor - and it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know.
"It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA's banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine. But on January the first, the rules have changed."
Meldonium is used to treat chest pain and heart attacks, but some researchers have linked it to increased athletic performance and endurance.