Maria Sharapova Failed Drug Test at Australian Open
The tennis world was abuzz with speculation after Maria Sharapova called a press conference for Monday afternoon, thinking it was possible that one of the game’s most recognizable stars was announcing her retirement at the age of 28. However, as it turns out, Sharapova called the press conference to announce that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open.
The International Tennis Foundation informed her several days ago that during the Australian Open in January, she tested positive for an anti-ischemic drug called meldonium, a drug that was not listed as a banned substance until the first of the year.
Sharapova says she did not look at the list of drugs that had been added to the banned substances list by the World Anti-Doping Association. The announcement that meldonium would become a banned substance on January 1, 2016 came last September.
Meldonium can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Sharapova says she has been taking it since 2006, when she suffered from irregular EKGs and a magnesium deficiency.
Sharapova reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 Australian Open, a tournament she won in 2008, but lost to Serena Williams. According to the ITF, the failed drug test came on January 26, which was after Sharapova’s loss to Williams.
She has not participated in another tournament since being knocked out of the Australian Open due to a nagging forearm injury.
After admitting to the failed drug test on Monday, Sharpova said, “I don’t want my career to end this way,” adding “I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.”
Following the press conference, the ITF announced on its website that a provisional ban for Sharapova would begin March 12. Typically, first-time offenders receive a two-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance.
If what Sharapova says is true, her failed drug test is a result of ignorance and unfortunate health issues more than anything else. It may be possible for her to receive leniency from the ITF, but if not, it could be a long time until the 28-year old tennis star makes it back on the court.