World No. 7 player, Maria Sharapova announced Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January.
She said she received a letter March 2 from the International Tennis Federation but has not yet found out what her penalty will be. The ITF confirmed the failed drug test and said Sharapova would be provisionally suspended until the case is finalized.
“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day,” Sharapova said. “I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let my sport down.”
Meldonium is also known as mildronate:
• Meldonium is used to treat ischaemia: a lack of blood flow to parts of the body, particularly in cases of angina or heart failure.
• It is manufactured in Latvia and only distributed in Baltic countries and Russia. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States and is not authorised in the rest of Europe.
• It increases blood flow, which improves exercise capacity in athletes.
Sharapova’s many endorsements are now in jeopardy as well with Nike the first to bow out after the announcement. On Monday night, Nike announced they were going to suspend their relationship.
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” Nike said in a statement. “We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
Sharapova extended her Nike deal in 2010. The eight-year pact was reportedly worth as much as $70 million, including royalties.
Another sponsor, Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer said early Tuesday morning that it was ending its relationship with Sharapova.
“Maria Sharapova was under contract with TAG Heuer until December 31th, 2015. We had been in talks to extend our collaboration. In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negociations, and has decided not to renew the contract with Mrs. Sharapova,” the company said in a statement.
Sharapova had partnered with the brand since 2004.