LOS ANGELES, March 07
Former world numbr one Maria Sharapova said on Monday that she recently received a letter from the ITF saying she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old Russian, a five-times grand slam champion, has not competed since she lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January and has struggled with a series of injuries in recent years.
Sharapova said she tested positive for meldonium and that she did not look at a list of banned substances for 2016 that the World Anti-Doping Agency had sent last December.
“I was first given the substance back in 2006. I had several health issues going on at the time,” Sharapova told during a press conference in Los Angeles.
“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. That is one of the medications, along with others, that I received.”
The ITF published following press release after her press conference:
Following the statement made by Maria Sharapova in a press conference today, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) can confirm the following:
– On 26 January 2016, Ms Sharapova provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with her participation in the 2016 Australian Open.
– That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Code and, therefore also the TADP.
– In accordance with Article 8.1.1 of the TADP, Ms Sharapova was charged on 2 March with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
– Ms Sharapova has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January.
– As meldonium is a non-specified substance under the WADA (and, therefore, TADP) list of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods, Ms Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case.
The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is a comprehensive and internationally recognised drug-testing programme that applies to all players competing at Grand Slam tournaments and events sanctioned by the ITF, ATP, and WTA. Players are tested for substances prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and, upon a finding that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, sanctions are imposed in accordance with the requirements of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and World Anti-Doping Code. More background information on the Programme, sanctions, tennis statistics and related information can be found at www.itftennis.com/antidoping.