Former world number one Maria Sharapova has disclosed that she failed to pass a drugs test at the Australian Open. The 28 year old Russian, tested positive for meldonium, a substance she has been taking for health issues since 2006 .
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, said no penalty has been announced for her.
“I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it,” said Sharapova, who won the Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old in 2004.
“For the past 10 years I have been taking a medicine called mildronate by my doctor, my family doctor, and a few days ago after I received the letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation]
I found out 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 [World Anti-Doping Agency] banned list and I had been legally taking that medicine for the past 10 years.
“But on 1 January the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known.”
She continued: “I received an email on 22 December from Wada about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items, and I didn’t click on that link.”
Sharapova who is no.7 in the world has been able to play just four tournaments since Wimbledon last July as she struggles with an arm injury.
Her last match was a quaterfinal loss to Serena Williams at the Australian Open in January. Sharapova, who turns 29 in April, still hopes to be able to return to tennis in the future.
“I made a huge mistake,” she said.
“I have let my fans down, and let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply.
“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.”
Rumours had surfaced that Sharapova would announce her retirement and a large media contingent gathered for the Los Angeles news conference, which was streamed live online.
“I know many of you thought that I would be retiring today but if I was ever going to announce my retire my it would not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet,” she said.