LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - Maria Sharapova held a press conference on Monday to announce she has tested positive for meldonium. Sharapova told reporters she received a letter from the ITF after the Australian Open notifying her of the failed drug test.
"I failed the test and I take full responsibility for it," Sharapova said. "For the past 10 years, I have been given a medicine called Mildronate by my family doctor, and a few days ago after I received the ITF letter, I found out that it also has another name of Meldonium, which I did not know.
"It's very important for you to understand that for 10 years, this medicine was not on WADA's ban list, and I had been legally taking the medicine for the past 10 years."
Sharapova said she was prescribed the medication for health issues dating back to 2006, including magnesium deficiency, an irregular heartbeat, and a family history of diabetes.
"Throughout my long career, I have been very open and honest about many things, and I take great responsibility and professionalism in my job every single day, and I made a huge mistake," Sharapova said. "I let my fans down, and this sport down that I've been playing since the age of four and that I love so deeply.
"I know that with this, I face consequences, and I don't want to end my career this way and I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game."
Sharapova said she does not know what the consequences will be yet. "I just received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF," Sharapova said.
"I am very saddened to hear this news about Maria," WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement. "Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity. Nevertheless, as Maria acknowledged, it is every player's responsibility to know what they put in their body and to know if it is permissible. This matter is now in the hands of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and its standard procedures. The WTA will support the decisions reached through this process."
Following the announcement, WADA released the following statement:
"WADA is aware of the ongoing case. As is our normal process, and in order to protect the integrity of the case, WADA will refrain from commenting further until a decision has been issued by the ITF. Following that, WADA will review the reasons for the decision and subsequently decide whether or not to use its independent right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
We can confirm that meldonium was added to the 2016 Prohibited List which took effect on 1 January 2016, having previously been on WADA's monitoring program for the duration of 2015.
Meldonium was added [to the Prohibited List] because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance."