Nike, the world’s largest sportswear maker, has decided to suspend their relationship with Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova during the investigation launched by the International Tennis Federation.
Banned drug Meldonium was found in her 2016 Australian Open doping test, Sharapova told at a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday. She said that the International Tennis Federation had informed her in a letter a week before that she had failed her drug test.
Meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as of Jan. 1. Sharapova said her family doctor had been giving her mildronate, which is also called meldonium, for 10 years after she frequently became sick, had irregular EKG results, a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.
The 28-year-old Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion and the highest paid woman in sports, will be provisionally suspended starting March 12, the International Tennis Federation said.
“I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game,” Sharapova stressed.
The contract with Nike is the biggest endorsement deal made by Sharapova. Besides Nike, the athlete signed contracts with other well-known companies, including Tag Heuer International SA and Evian. They have not commented on the situation yet.
Due to her endorsement contracts, Sharapova is the world’s best-paid athlete. According to Forbes, she earned $29.5 million in 2015. She takes the seventh position in the WTA rankings.
Belsat.eu, following Reuters