Maria Sharapova announces she failed a drug test

Maria Sharapova at the press conference this evening
Maria Sharapova at the press conference this evening

Maria Sharapova has announced she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old Russian revealed that she has been taking medicine given to her by her doctor for the past 10 years that was not on the banned substances list.

Meldonium, which Sharapova said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Doping Anti-Agency (WADA) at the beginning of the year, having been part of its monitoring program throughout 2015.

However, on 1 January it was added to the list, with Sharapova claiming she was unaware of the developments. The Russian confirmed that she accepts that she has failed a drugs test.

Sharapova claimed she did not realise the substance was illegal, but took "full responsibility" for her actions. The ITF said Sharapova had been informed of the positive test on March 2 and she will be provisionally banned from March 12.

"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way and I hope that will have a chance to play again," she told reporters at a press conference in Los Angeles.

"I received a letter on 22 December from Wada for the changes next year and where the tests will be with a link to the changes for 2016 and I did not look at that list.

"I do not, this is very new to me. I only received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF."

Sharapova claimed she was prescribed meldonium, also known as mildronate, by her doctor in 2006 to deal with health issues such as an irregular heartbeat and a history of diabetes in her family.

The five-time Grand Slam winner called the press conference ahead of a “major announcement”, with many observers expecting Sharapova to announce her retirement from the game.

A string of injuries she left the players struggling for form, with her last Grand Slam final appearance coming in Australia last year where she was beaten in straight sets by Serena Williams.

She has struggled throughout 2016 with an injury to her left forearm which hampered her campaign at the Australian Open in January, where she made a quarter-final exit at the hands of Williams.

Sharapova has not competed since then, and was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California later this month having not recovered.