Maria Sharapova, who has won five Grand Slam Championships, announced today that she tested positive for a banned drug at the Australian Open. The drug in Sharapova’s system is called Meldonium. The positive test happened in January 26, which was the day she lost to Serena Williams. Sharapova will be suspended pending a ruling.
According to The Inquisitr, many people don’t think of tennis when people talk about doping, but it is a bigger problem than most people think. Lately, match-fixing has become a topic of conversation in the tennis world, but steroids and other drugs are actually a bigger problem. Player Marin Cilic tested positive for steroids, as have lower ranked players, and tennis champion Andre Agassi says he tested positive for crystal meth while he was still playing professionally.
The New York Times is reporting that Sharapova, 28, is the most famous, and highest ranking player to test positive for Meldonium, which was originally used for heart patients in Latvia, because it improves oxygen flow. Meldonium is not approved in the United States (or many places outside of Eastern Europe). The drug was added to the list of banned drugs in tennis in 2015, and it is being added to the doping lists in other sports too.
Maria Sharapova said, though, that she was unaware that Meldonium had been added to the list of banned substances and says that it no excuse.
“I take full responsibility for it,” Sharapova said Monday.
Sharapova explained that Meldonium was not a drug she was getting in an illicit manner, but something that her doctor prescribed. She was given Mildronate, which she now knows is another name for Meldonium after a battle with the flu and other illnesses. She says she has been taking the drug since 2006.
“I was getting sick very often,” she said. “I had a deficiency in magnesium. I had irregular EKG results, and I had a family history of diabetes.”
CNN says that to have Maria Sharapova provisionally suspended from tennis is a huge deal, as she is the richest female athlete in the world. At her press conference, Maria Sharapova looked crestfallen as she spoke to the press about testing positive for Meldonium, and not realizing the the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had added the drug to the list.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) put out a statement after Sharapova’s press conference that Sharapova will be provisionally suspended from tennis “pending determination of the case.” The usual penalty for first-time offenders is two years, which could put Sharapova out of professional women’s tennis, or at least singles.
WADA put out an announcement in September that Meldonium would be added to the list of banned drugs on January 1, 2016. Sharapova admits that she received the email, but didn’t click the link that listed the new drugs to be added to the list.
“I received an email on December 22 from WADA about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items, and I didn’t click that link.”
Sharapova is very sorry that she let her family and fans down by making a stupid mistake.
“I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down and I let the sport down. I have been playing since the age of four a sport that I love so deeply.”
But it is still possible that Sharapova could get a lighter sentence, as Marin Cilic got a nine-month suspension for steroid use, before coming back to win the U.S. Open.
Do you think Maria Sharapova should be suspended from tennis for using Meldonium?
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]