On Sunday, it was revealed that Maria Sharapova would make a “major announcement” in Los Angeles the following day.
Speculation ran rampant. Was she retiring? Taking time off? Beginning a new business venture?
Everyone, it seems, was fooled when the five-time Grand Slam champion informed reporters that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open.
The positive result was for meldonium, which became a banned substance just this year. Sharapova claimed that she’s been taking the drug for 10 years to combat health-related issues.
Still, the 28-year-old expressed remorse.
“I’ve let my fans down, let my sport down,” Sharapova said. “…I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game.”
The penalty for the Russian has not been announced, but it’s almost a certainty that she’ll miss an extended period of time.
John Haggerty, Sharapova's lawyer, tells #NYT Sharapova will be provisionally suspended on March 12 & will not ask for B sample to be tested— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) March 7, 2016
“I am very saddened to hear this news about Maria,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a release. “Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity. Nevertheless, as Maria acknowledged, it is every player’s responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible.
“This matter is now in the hands of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and its standard procedures. The WTA will support the decisions reached through this process.”
After the shocking announcement was made, the tennis world—and some notable celebrities and journalists—reacted on Twitter.
Wow. Classy of @MariaSharapova to hold a press conference for this and admit making a mistake. Definitely agree that have to be aware though— James Blake (@JRBlake) March 7, 2016
Maria handled the press conference with class, however all pro athletes should be well aware of what they are taking.— Michael Russell (@MRusselltennis) March 7, 2016
Sharapova failed a drugs test. Not sure what to make of that.— Anne Keothavong (@annekeothavong) March 7, 2016
“If I was going 2 announce my retirement, it wouldn’t b in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with a fairly ugly carpet." Sharapova. Standards— judy murray (@judmoo) March 7, 2016
Sharapova Announces That She Failed Doping Test, -hope this gets cleared up as it seems 2 me to be an honest mistake https://t.co/nsfGkxDzGp— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) March 7, 2016
That might explain all the grunting.#sharapova— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 7, 2016
Maria handled that so well. In my opinion, honest mistake from a great champion.— Ryan Harrison (@ryanharrison92) March 7, 2016
Im extremely angry and disappointed. I had to lose my career and never opted to cheat no matter what.i had to throw in the towel and suffer— Jennifer Capriati (@JenCapriati) March 7, 2016
i didn't have the high priced team of drs that found a way for me to cheat and get around the system and wait for science to catch up— Jennifer Capriati (@JenCapriati) March 7, 2016
the responses are exactly what i am talking about. everything based on illusion and lie driven by the media for over 20 yrs. beyond unfair— Jennifer Capriati (@JenCapriati) March 7, 2016
Doesn't look that innocent for Sharapova or whoever else took it, this Meldonium stuff but who knows? https://t.co/IBqop5ggHZ— Matt Ebden (@mattebden) March 7, 2016