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Maria Sharapova, the Russian Tennis sensation and the richest female athlete in the world, announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at Australian Open 2016 for a medication she had been taking for 10 years that was recently banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The drug, meldonium, was added to the banned list in September, and went into effect on Jan. 1. Sharapova said she was notified via email in December that WADA’s antidoping policies had been updated, but didn’t check to see what new substances were included. She took full responsibility for having the drug in her system and apologized for letting down her fans and the sport.

“I made a huge mistake, I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game.”

Said Sharapova.

The International Tennis Federation said in a statement that Sharapova would be provisionally suspended from competition on March 12, pending a full determination of her case.

The tennis anti-doping program is a joint program among the sport’s chief governing bodies. It calls for a four-year suspension for a positive test, but that ban can be reduced for various circumstances, like first-time offenses and if the athlete shows “no significant fault or negligence.” If a player shows “no fault or negligence,” there is no suspension.

Steve Simon, chief executive of the women’s tennis tour, said in a statement:

“Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity. Nevertheless, as Maria acknowledged, it is every player’s responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible.”

John Haggerty, Sharapova’s attorney, said they were in contact with the ITF and expect to have a preliminary hearing on her case in the coming weeks. He said Sharapova had been prescribed meldonium, also known as mildronate, to treat a variety of conditions,​and she would confer with doctors about medication choices going forward.

Haggerty emphasized that Sharapova accepted full responsibility for not checking the banned list, though until she received notification of her positive drug test on March 2, “the word ‘meldonium’ meant nothing to Maria.”

WADA, which regulates doping control in sports worldwide including at events like the Olympics, reviews and updates the list each year, taking into account analysis of new technology, research, and concerns of stakeholders. Meldonium is classified as an anti-ischemic drug used to treat heart conditions, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In a statement, WADA said: “Meldonium was added [to the prohibited list] because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.”

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam singles champion, said she began taking the drug in 2006 because she was getting sick often and had low magnesium and irregular electrocardiogram results. She was also concerned about a family history of diabetes, she said. She said her family doctor prescribed the drug and that it helped her.

“It made me healthy and that’s why I continued to take it, I have to take full responsibility for it because it’s my body,At the end of the day everything you do is about you.”

 

We feel sorry for Sharapova, a great talent who intentionally or not ruined a career that only a few can even dream of.

We wish her best in whatever she does in life, unless it is not harming her own body.

 

 

(Source – The Wall Street Journal, Reuters)

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