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Maria Sharapova Suspended after Testing Positive for ’Meldonium’ at the Australian Open

THE WORLD of tennis is in shock this morning after five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova revealed she has failed a drugs test.

The former world No1 tested positive for a newly banned substance at this year’s Australian Open. She said yesterday that, although she had been taking the drug for a decade to deal with sickness, a magnesium deficiency and her family’s history of diabetes, she has “let her fans down” and “takes full responsibility”.

Reading a statement that lasted almost three minutes during a news conference in Los Angeles last night, Sharapova said: “It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on Wada’s banned list and I had legally been taking the medicine for 10 years.

“But on January 1 the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known. I had received an email on December 22 from Wada about changes to the banned list. You can see prohibited items and I didn’t click on that link.”

Sharapova will now be provisionally suspended from March 12.

She said: “For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor. A few days ago, after I received a letter from the International Tennis Federation saying I had failed a drugs test, I found out it has another name, meldonium, which I did not know.

“I was given this medicine for several health issues that I was having in 2006. I was getting sick very often and I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes and there were signs of diabetes. I take full responsibility for it.

“Throughout my long career I have been very open and honest about many things and I take great responsibility and professionalism in my job and I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let the sport down I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply.

“I know with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.” Sharapova won her first Grand Slam as a 17-year-old at Wimbledon in 2004 and has since triumphed at the 2006 US Open, the 2008 Australian Open and the French Open twice, in 2012 and 2014.

By Robert Muriisa.

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