On 7 March,2016 Maria Sharapova ,the five-time Tennis Grand Slam winner and the highest earning female athlete admitted that she failed a doping test, conducted on January26 .She told that she had been using a substance called meldonium, which is now banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), for most of her pro career. But she says her failed test was due to the fact that meldonium was only recently banned and she failed to recognize the updated list.
"I had been legally taking the medicine for the past 10 years, but on January 1 the rules had changed, and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known," she told at a press conference in Los Angeles.
Meldonium also known as mildronate was added to the list of banned drug last year which came to place on 1 January 2016.The drug was added to the list because the World Anti-doping Agency said that there are evidences of using the drug by athletes for enhancing their performance.WADA had been observing it for the last one year under monitoring programme to determine its effects on athletic performance. According to WADA, meldonium started showing up inathletes' drug tests frequently enough that the organization began monitoring the drug and which athletes were using it in 2015.
WADA then banned the drug in 2016 because it found athletes were (unsurprisingly) using it to boost their sports abilities, not to treat heart condition.But she said that her family doctor began prescribing the drug after several health issues arose including frequent cases of flu.she said "I was getting very often.I had a deficiency in magnesium.I had irregular EKG results and I have family history of diabetes and there were signs of diabetes."
Dr. Steven Nissen chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the cleveland clinic said that the drug was not available in the US and but that it seemed to be used elsewhere to treat chest pains from severe heart disease.He said "there is no way it would be clinically indicated in a healthy young athlete.
Sharapova admitted that she continued to take the drug while regularly checking the list through the years to confirm that it was not prohibited. The WADA in conjunction with International Tennis Federation sends an email to the players at the end of every year with a link of banned substances.Sharapova confessed of not clicking on the link this time.And she took complete resposibility of her mistake.
The highest paid female athlete also suffered loss in her commercial value .NIKE has suspended its all contracts with her.Automaker Porsche,owned by Volkwagen also postponing all the planned sponsorship activity with her. Swiss
Watch brand TAG Heuer,part of the LVMH suspending negotiation about renewing the sponsorship deal that ended December 2015.Danone,which own Evian said earlier to follow the negotiation closely. While Mr. Johan Eliasch ,the owner of HEAD sports equipment company said that she had made an 'Honest Mistake.'He even questioned WADAand said that the drug banned only above a certain level and not fully.He also said that he is making these statements based upon the facts out in the public domain .He also said that he believes that Sharapova is transparent otherwise his reasoning falls.He wants to see her teaching tennis to children as a punishment.Also skincare company Supergoop is standing by her.Sharapova signed a deal with the company to become the face of the company in 2014 and also to become co-owner with Holly Thaggard.Miss Thaggard said " ........... we value our relationship with her ......."
At an anti-doping hearing in London, Sharapova was informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that she should be banned for two years. She avoided the four year ban after WADA admitted that scientist could not dtermine for how long the drug remains in the user 's body after it had been taken.A statement said " An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1 of the 2016 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme and as a consequence has disqualified the affected results and imposed a period of ineligibility of two years , commencing on 26 January 2016. "She tok her case to the CAS where her was reduced to 15 months from 2 years. CAS criticised the ITF ,the WADA ,Women's Tennis Association for not doing enough to spread the message about the addition of the drug on the list of banned drugs.
Maria Sharapova has continued her training and waiting for the ban to be over.
As a former grand slam champion she will be entitled to receive wild card entries to tournaments ,so she will not be suffering to fight through qualifying draws.