March 9, 2016
Luxury brands Nike, Tag Heuer, and Porsche have temporarily cut ties with Maria Sharapova after she announced that she failed a drug test.
In a press briefing on Monday, the Russian tennis star admitted of testing positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open last January.
She said she took the drug for 10 years that was prescribed by a doctor.
Sharapova said she has a magnesium deficiency and a family history of diabetes.
The World Anti-Doping Agency admitted that meldonium, which is used to treat patients with the heart problems angina and myocardial infarction, was not on the banned list until January this year.
The agency said it was banned because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.
In a statement, Nike said it was suspending its relationship with Sharapova, while the investigation continued.
In 2010, the tennis star signed a $70-million deal with Nike for eight years.
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” the sportswear firm said.
“We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation,” it added.
Tag Heuer, on the other hand, said it would not renew her contract.
“Maria Sharapova was under contract with Tag Heuer until December 31, 2015. We had been in talks to extend our collaboration,” the watchmaker firm said in a statement.
“In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negotiations and has decided not to renew the contract,” it added.
Porsche also said it would be suspending promotional work with the tennis star “until further details are released and we can analyze the situation.”
The luxury car-maker signed a three-year deal with Sharapova in 2013 to become its first female ambassador.
The International Tennis Federation said Sharapova will be suspended from March 12, pending the determination of the case.
The tennis star hoped she can eventually return to the sport.
“I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply,” she said.
“I know with this I face consequences. I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game,” she added.
Sharapova, 28, has won five grand slam titles, including Wimbledon in 2004.
In 2005, she ascended to No. 1 in the rankings and later achieved a career grand slam by winning the United States Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.
She has earned almost $37 million in career earnings, second only to Serena Williams, who has earned over $75 million.
Meanwhile, Williams praised Sharapova for admitting her failed drug test.
She said it takes a lot of courage to come out as Sharapova did.