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Published: 20:27 | 7/3/16

Sharapova fails drugs test

Tested positive at Australian Open

Maria Sharapova has admitted to failing a drugs test at the Australian Open earlier this year.

It was widely rumoured that Sharapova would announce her retirement from tennis after calling a press conference for Monday in Los Angeles, but instead the former world number one confirmed her positive test for the banned substance meldonium, which she has been taking since 2006 for health reasons.

Meldonium was only added to the list of banned substances on January 1 but the 28-year-old admitted she did not read the updated list when she received a letter from the World Anti-Doping Agency in December.

"I received a letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation] last week that I failed a drug test at the Australian Open," she said. "I did fail the test and I take full responsibility.

"For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called Mildronate by my family doctor. A few days ago after I received the ITF letter I found out it also has another name - Meldonium - which I did not know.

"It's very important for you to know that, for 10 years, this medicine was not on WADA's banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine for the past 10 years.

"But on January 1 the rules changed and Meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known.

"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 has yet to learn what sanctions she will face but hopes to continue her career.

"I made a huge mistake. I know I face consequences and I didn't want to end my career this way. I hope I will be given the chance to play this game again."

The Russian has only played one tournament this year - the Australian Open - due to an arm injury, and she will be provisionally suspended pending a full hearing into the positive drugs test.

Sportswear company Nike has suspended its contract with the player until the investigation is complete.

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