Maria Sharapova, the former World No. 1, announced Monday that she flunked a drug test at the Australian Open in January.
On March 2, the International Tennis Federation sent a letter to Sharapova to notify her that the failed drug test would result in a provisional suspension, until further notice.
The 28-year-old tennis star is still unsure of what her penalty will be. “I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day. I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let my sport down,” regretted Sharapova (watch video above).
John Haggerty, the lawyer of Sharapova, described the range of penalties that her client faces going forward. “When someone intentionally takes banned substance for performance enhancing purposes, there is a four-year ban,” Haggerty told ESPN. “If it is not done intentionally, the top end of the ban is two years. If there are mitigating circumstances – as I strongly believe there are here — there can be an even greater reduction, including eliminating sanctions.”
To aid oxygen uptake…
During the first grand slam event of the calendar year, Sharapova reportedly consumed the banned drug meldonium, a blood flow-promoting drug which aids oxygen uptake and endurance. In fact, Sharapova revealed that she had been consuming the drug for close to 10 years to address a number of health-related issues.
According to Sharapova, the aforementioned banned substance was made illegal on January 1, a rule change that she was not aware of. “I know with this that I face consequences. I don’t want to end my career this way, and I really hope I’m given another chance to play this game,” said the Russian.
Meldonium, manufactured in Latvia, is extensively used in Lithuania and Russia but is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to Sharapova, the consumption of the drug had kept her irregular EKGs in check. Also, there was evidence of diabetes, an epidemic which runs in her family.
Maria Sharapova dismissed rumors that she was going to announce her retirement. “If I was going to announce my retirement, it wouldn’t be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet,” said the former five-time Grand Slam champion.