Melbourne, March 8: Maria Sharapova, the glamorous tennis star from Russia and the highest-paid sportswoman, will be provisionally suspended from March 12, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said.
Failed drug test, says Sharapova
The 28-year-old player said on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open because of a substance she has been taking for a decade now for health-related reasons.
As per Forbes, Sharapova earned $29.5 million last year, mostly from endorsements.
Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion, became the seventh athlete in one month to test positive for meldonium, used as a cre for diabetes and low magnesium. It was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) only on January 1.
The ace tennis player rued the fact, saying she did a mistake and let her fans down. Sharapova had made her name known as a teenage prodigy and became the third-youngest Wimbledon in 2004. She said she took full responsibility for what has happened.
Don't want to end career in this way: Sharapova
The former No. 1 player said she doesn't want to end her career in this way and hoped to get another chance to appear on the court. The ITF's anti-doping programme states a four-year suspension for a player who tests positive. However, the penalty can be reduced under varying conditions, for example if it is a first-time offence or if a player's fault or negligence is not significant. A player is not suspended if he or she has no fault or negligence.
Sharapova said it is important to understand that the substance she has been taking was not banned for 10 years and the rules were changed only in January.
The WADA did not comment on the issue since the ITF was yet to issue a final decision.