Well, this was unexpected. Everyone thought 28-year-old Maria Sharapova, the highest paid female athlete in the world, planned to announce her retirement from tennis today. Instead, she shocked the sports world, admitting at a press conference Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open. Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, tested positive for a drug called meldonium, according to the BBC. She said she’d been taking the drug since 2006 due to health issues, including frequent bouts with the flu, irregular EKGs and possible diabetes symptoms.
‘I failed the test and take full responsibility for that,’ Sharapova said.
Meldonium, which helps athletes’ endurance and rehabilitation, was made a banned substance in tennis in January of this year, but Sharapova, who has played in only three tournaments in eight months due to injuries, said she hadn’t checked the banned substance list recently.
What happens next to Sharapova is unclear. ‘I don’t want to end my career this way,’ she said. ‘I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.’
Sharapova, a Russian, won Wimbledon at the age of 17. She’s currently ranked seventh in the world.
Nike announced that it’s suspending its relationship with Sharapova while she is being investigated.
Watch the press conference below:
Via Marie Claire US