The professional Russian Tennis player, Maria Sharapova, 28, has failed her drug test for the Australian Open.
The substance found was meldonium, a drug she has been taking since 2006 due to medical reasons. On the 1st of January 2016 the rules for meldonium, or mildronate, changed and it was made illegal for the sport, but Maria claims she had been taking it legally for the past ten years and did not know that the rule had been changed; otherwise she would have not failed the drug test.
This was not to say she doesn’t know what she had done wrong, she admitted, ‘I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it.’ She is facing up to a 4-year ban, however many people who personally know her, like ex-professionals, really believe this was an honest mistake. 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova felt like this, whereas Jennifer Capriati said she was ‘angry and disappointed,’ and also said, ‘In my opinion, if it’s all true every title should be stripped. This is other people’s lives as well.’
She claims that on the 22nd of December she received the email of Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) however failed to click on the link that told her the rule changes. There is one way that Sharapova will not get a ban of up to 4 years, which is by applying for a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption). This allows the player to use a banned substance, without committing an anti-doping rule violation, if they have a medical condition that allows this, in Maria’s case her diabetes. Her contract with Nike has been terminated until further investigation and her other contracts: Evian, Tag Heuer, Porsche and Avon, could end up doing the same thing. On the other hand her racket sponsor, Head, have decided to back her and extend her contract through the current predicament.