FIVE-TIME GRAND Slam winner Maria Sharapova has revealed she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The former world number one called a press conference to make a ‘major announcement’ in Los Angeles this evening.
Sharapova announced she received a letter from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to inform her she had tested positive for Meldonium.
The substance was placed on the banned list from 1 January 2016.
The 28-year-old said she’s been taking the medicine, which was prescribed by her family doctor, for the last 10 years.
“Thank you for being here on such short notice. I wanted to let you know that a few days ago I received a letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation] that I had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open,” she said.
“I have to take full responsibility, because it’s my body and it’s what I put into my body. I can’t blame anyone but myself. At the end of the day, everything you do is about you.
“I received a letter on December 22 from WADA, an email with the changes happening for next year and a link where you can press a button to check the prohibited items for 2016 and I did not look at that list.
“I do not [know what the consequences will be]. This is very new to me. I just received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF.
“I do not know yet [when I can play again].
“I was first given the substance back in 2006 – I had several health issues going on at the time, I was getting sick very often … that was one of the medications, along with several others, that I had received.
“I’m still working through my injury and that is the reason I withdrew from Palm Springs.
“It made me healthy and that’s why I continued to take it.”
Sharapova, currently ranked seventh in the world, has been plagued by injuries over the last 12 months and it was widely expected she would announce her retirement this evening.
The Russian has played just four tournaments since Wimbledon last July and her only appearance this year has been the Australian Open.
Sharapova is one of the highest-earning athletes in the world with lucrative commercial deals with Nike, Prince and Canon while she has also worked with the United Nations as a Goodwill Ambassador.
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