Dope-tainted Maria Sharapova reveals she sat next to her dog and read out all the social media messages from friends
London: Maria Sharapova has vowed she will fight to save her tennis career. The five-time Grand Slam winner announced on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open. The 28-year-old Russian tested positive for meldonium following her quarter-final defeat to Serena Williams in Melbourne.
Former World No 1 tennis ace Maria Sharapova. Pic/AFP
The medication, which Sharapova said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at the beginning of the year following "evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance."
Sharapova said on Monday she did not realise the substance was illegal, but took "full responsibility" for her actions. She has since seen three major sponsors (Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche) distance themselves from her."
Now Sharapova has detailed how she felt on Tuesday, in the wake of her announcement. Posting on Facebook, she wrote: "On average, I love the mornings. New day, new start. It is fair to say that this day was not average. Nothing came to mind at 6am, except that I am determined to play tennis again and I hope I will have the chance to do so. I wish I didn't have to go through this, but I do — and I will. I needed to sweat, to push through and grind as I have done most of my life, so I made my way to the gym."
Sharapova related how she spotted photographers following her, and said she had read a number of social media messages presented in a collage by friends. "I spent the afternoon reading them next to my dog, who couldn't quite understand why this was more important than the walk he was expecting to take," she said.
The former Wimbledon champion thanked her fans for their support and loyalty, and added: "I'd like to play again and hope to have the chance to do so. Your messages give me great encouragement. This message isn't anything else but to say thank you."
Sharapova has accepted a provisional suspension and will find out after a tribunal hearing in due course what sanction she faces. The Russian admitted she received a link to the list of banned substances for 2016 in December but did not click on it.
The International Tennis Federation confirmed Sharapova missed five opportunities in December alone to learn that meldonium had become a banned substance.
ITF's numerous reminders
Documents detailing the prohibited substances for 2016 were distributed to players on December 3 and posted on the ITF website four days later.
On December 11, the WTA notified players that the documents were available, while the ITF provided players with a link to them on December 22 — the one Sharapova failed to click on.
Then on December 29, the WTA sent another reminder of the availability of the documents to players.
The number of athletes, who reportedly consumed the now banned drug Meldonium during the 2015 European Games in Baku