Nike, TAG Heuer and Porsche suspend ties with Maria Sharapova after failed doping test

New York: Three of Maria Sharapova's top sponsors -- global sports apparel giants Nike, Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer and German car manufacturer Porsche -- have suspended their ties with Maria Sharapova after the Russian tennis star failed a drug test at the Australian Open.

"We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” Kejuan Wilkins, a spokesman for Nike, said on Monday.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova. Pic/ AFP

“We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

TAG Heuer said in a statement that its previous contract with Sharapova had expired at the end of 2015 and it has pulled out of negotiations on a new agreement.

Porsche on Tuesday became the third big-name sponsor to distance themselves from Sharapova.

"We regret the news about Maria Sharapova. Until more details are known and we can analyse the situation, we have decided to suspend planned activities (with her)," said Porsche in a statement. 

Sharapova, a five-time major winner, on Monday said she failed a test at the Australian Open in January for the banned substance meldonium, a heart medication commonly sold in Eastern Europe. Meldonium was added to the banned list on January 1.

Sharapova disclosed at a news conference on Monday that she had been taking a drug named Meldonium for over a decade for health reasons.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the drug from January 1.

Sharapova, the World No.7, said she didn't notice that the drug was banned by the WADA.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on its website on Monday that the 28-year-old would be provisionally banned from March 12. The usual ban for first-time offenders is two years.

The failed drug test came on January 26 -- after Sharapova lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals -- and she was charged with an anti-doping violation on March 2, the governing body additionally said.

The failed drug test could cause the five-time Grand Slam winner a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics and the $298,000 she won in January at the Australian Open.

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