Maria Sharapova has failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.
The former world No.1 told a news conference on Monday she had recently received a letter informing her she had failed a drugs test at the year’s first Grand Slam event in January.
Sharapova said she tested positive for meldonium and 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 a news 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.”
Sharapova, who took “full responsibility” for the failed test, said she has been taking the drug legally since the age of 16, but did not realise it had subsequently been banned.
“I received a letter from the ITF that I failed a drugs test at the Australian Open,” said Sharapova. “I take full responsibility for it.
“For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor and a few days ago after I received the ITF letter I found out that it also has another name of meldonium which I did not know.
“It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA’s banned list and I had legally been taking the medicine for the past 10 years.
“But on January 1st the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance which I had not known.”
The 28-year-old Russian, a five-time Grand Slam champion, has not competed since she lost to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals and has struggled with a series of injuries in recent years.
According to the ITF official statement, Sharapova has been provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case.
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