World’s Highest Paid Female Athlete Maria Sharapova Loses Sponsors Over Failed Drug Test –
Tennis pro, Maira Sharapova shocked the world when she announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January. And surprisingly, her sponsor quickly cut ties with her.
According to the New York Times, just hours after Ms. Sharapova, the world’s highest-paid female athlete, admitted she had tested positive for the recently banned drug meldonium, Nike said it was suspending its relationship with her.
She said she received a letter from the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday but has not yet found out what her penalty will be. The ITF confirmed the failed drug test and said Sharapova would be provisionally suspended until the case is finalized.
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” the company said, adding that it would “continue to monitor the situation.”
Other sponsors quickly followed. Porsche echoed Nike’s statement, saying it had decided to “postpone planned activities.”
The Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer said it had “suspended negotiations” to extend Ms. Sharapova’s contract, which had expired in December.
Maria said she received a letter from the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday but has not yet found out what her penalty will be. The ITF confirmed the failed drug test and said Sharapova would be provisionally suspended until the case is finalized.
Sharapova, 28, said she had been taking the drug mildronate, also known as meldonium, for 10 years to address a number of health issues, including low magnesium levels. Meldonium is a blood-flow-promoting drug banned because it helps oxygen uptake and endurance.
Sharapova said she had been getting the flu every couple of months, had irregular EKGs and had evidence of diabetes, which runs in her family. She said she did not realize that mildronate and meldonium are the same drug and was not aware when rules changed Jan. 1 to make the drug illegal.