Tennis pro Maria Sharapova admitted during a Los Angeles press conference on Monday, March 7, that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January. As a result, she has been suspended.
“A few days ago I received a letter from the [International Tennis Federation] that I failed a drug test at the Australian Open. I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it,” Sharapova, 28, said at the podium.
The athlete revealed that she tested positive for meldonium, a substance she first began taking for a health issue in 2006. The drug was only recently added to the list of banned substances. She will begin her suspension on March 12.
“For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my doctor, my family doctor, and a few days ago after I received the ITF letter I found out that it also has another name, meldonium, which I did not know,” she continued. “It’s very important for you to understand for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list, and I had been legally taking the medicine for the past 10 years. But on January 1 the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known.”
The Russian native, a five-time Grand Slam champion, failed the doping test on January 26. That same day, she lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.
“I made a huge mistake. I have let my fans down, and let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of 4 that I love so deeply,” Sharapova added on Monday.
She also addressed rumors that she’s ready to retire. “I know that with this I face consequences, and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope to be given another chance to play this game,” she said. “I know many of you thought that I would be retiring today, but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.”
Watch Sharapova’s press conference in the video above.
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