For tennis fans the world over, it’s heartbreaking news. Come March 12, the International Tennis Federation will provisionally ban one of the sports’ most-loved players, Maria Sharapova, for testing positive for a banned drug.
The news was no less than a bombshell on the tennis circuit. The five-time Grand Slam winner is hugely popular across the globe. Ms. Sharapova admitted to failing the test, but insisted that her mistake was unintentional, saying she was imbibing the substance meldonium, which was part of her medication for poor health. She claims her electrocardiography tests were showing irregular heart function and she was diagnosed as being deficient in magnesium.
An anti-ischemic drug that is often prescribed in the treatment of cardiac problems, meldonium has been added to the list of prohibited substances following evidence that athletes use it to boost levels of endurance and to speed up the recovery process after gruelling schedules.
Although Shamil Tarpischev, the President of the Russian Tennis Federation, is predicting that Sharapova will play for her country in the 2016 Rio Olympics, it seems highly unlikely. It’s certain she will be slammed with a suspension and could even face a four-year ban from the sport.
For the last 11 years, Sharapova has been named by Forbes as the world’s richest female athlete. Her tennis earnings aside, she has sponsorship deals with big brands like Nike, Evian, Porsche and watchmaker Tag Heuer. These may now withdraw their contracts till the investigation reaches a conclusion which is favorable for her.