Nike Suspends Sharapova After Failing Drug Test
BEVERLY HILLS, March 09, (THEWILL) – Global sportswear brand, Nike, have suspended ties with Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova after she admitted to failing a drug test at the Australian Open.
Sharapova is the seventh athlete in a month to test positive for Meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as of Jan. 1, 2016.
The 28-year-old Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion and the highest paid woman in sports, will be provisionally suspended starting March 12, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said.
“I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down and I let the sport down,” said Sharapova, a teenage tennis prodigy who became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion told a news conference in a downtown Los Angeles hotel.
“I take full responsibility for it. I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game.”
Nike, the world's largest sportswear maker, said it was “saddened and surprised” by the news and released a statement saying it was putting ties on hold with the former world number player.
“We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues,” it said.
Sharapova joins the growing list of athletes that have once been suspended from ties with Nike. Some of the athletes include Tiger Woods, Oscar Pistorius and Lance Armstrong.
The ITF's anti-doping program calls for a four-year suspension for a positive test, but that ban can be reduced in various circumstances, such as for first-time offences or if the player shows no significant fault or negligence.
However, if a player bears no fault or is truly negligent, there is no suspension.
Story by David Oputah