In a press conference that many thought might be used to announce her retirement, women’s tennis star Maria Sharapova stood in front of the media and delivered some very different, somewhat shocking news.
In a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the No. 7-ranked women’s tennis player in the world declared that she had failed a drug test during the Australian Open earlier this year. The test revealed a drug called meldonium, which she said she’s been taking for 10 years after it was prescribed by a family doctor.
“I was given the medicine for several health issues I was having in 2006,” Sharapova said. “I was getting sick a lot, getting the flu every couple of months, and had irregular EKG results. I also had indications of diabetes in a family with a history of diabetes.”
Sharapova said she was unaware that meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list on Jan. 1, 2016, until she received a letter from the International Tennis Federation alerting her to the failed drug test.
“I did fail the test and I take full responsibility for it,” Sharapova said. “I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I’ve let this sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of 4, that I love so deeply.”
A lengthy suspension could be handed down, though Sharapova asked for lieniency. For now, we will have to wait and see.