Champion tennis player Maria Sharapova has announced that she has failed a drugs at the Australian Open.
The drug, called meldonium, had recently been added to The World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances.
The 28-year-old Russian athlete claims she had been taking the drug since 2006 due to several health concerns, including magnesium deficiency, an irregular EKG (a test of heart function), and diabetes
— a condition she said runs in her family.
The drug, which is used to treat chest pain and damage from a heart attack, is also known to increase the endurance performance of athletes, improve recovery after exercise, protect against stress, and enhance the central nervous system. That’s probably why the World Anti-Doping Agency decided to ban it in January.
Sharapova claims she was unaware the drug had been added to the list of banned substances, adding that she had legally been taking the medicine for the past 10 years. She said:
“For the past 10 years I have been taking a medicine called mildronate by my doctor, my family doctor, and a few days ago after I received the letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation] I found out it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know,” Sharapova said, according to the BBC.
Sharapova does not yet know what the ramifications will be but she hopes to return to the tour in the future.
A ban is expected to be implemented, however, and the ITF have provisionally suspended Sharapova starting from March 12.