Indian Wells: Andy Murray says Maria Sharapova should face the music for testing positive for a banned drug and that snaring the Russian sports icon sends a strong message to would be drugs cheats.

Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova
Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova

World No 2 Murray applauded doping officials on Thursday for catching one of tennis' most high-profile stars.

"The positive thing about what has happened to Maria is she is one of the biggest female athletes on the planet," Murray said on Thursday at the Indian Wells tournament.

"If you take performance-enhancing drugs and you fail a drug test then you should be suspended."

Former World No 1 Sharapova announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January. Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list this year.

Murray criticised everyone from Sharapova, to the tennis federation, to his racquet sponsor Head who also sponsors Sharapova.

"This is happening on a regular basis in sports. "I wouldn't say it was shocking," Murray said. "I read that 55 athletes have failed that test since January 1. You don't expect high level athletes in all those sports to have heart conditions."

World No 1 Serena Williams said she doesn't want the Sharapova scandal to tarnish the image of the sport. "It is disappointing for all the players involved but it doesn't reflect on the game," said Williams claiming she had never heard of meldonium until Sharapova's case.

"I am studying medicine but I have never heard of it. Maybe I am not studying hard enough," she said.