Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova at the press conference where she revealed she tested positiveReuters

After calling a press conference in Los Angeles to make a "major announcement", the general thought was that Maria Sharapova might call it a day and retire from tennis owing to nagging injuries, which have troubled her over the past year or so. But, instead, Sharapova dropped another big story, revealing she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open this year.

Sharapova, who has played in just three tournaments over the past eight months, tested positive for meldonium, a drug that was put on the banned list by the World Anti -Doping Agency (WADA) only this year.

Admitting she had been taking meldonium for several years to treat a fair few ailments, Sharapova revealed she had failed to read the new list that was handed out, and as a result ended up testing positive. Sharapova said she has been taking meldonium, under the other name of mildronate, since 2006, after her family doctor prescribed the medicine.

"I was getting sick very often," Sharapova told reporters. "I had a deficiency in magnesium. I had irregular EKG results, and I had a family history of diabetes."

"Because she had taken it for so many years and it was OK year after year, it unfortunately got off the radar," Sharapova's lawyer John Haggerty added.

WADA sends out emails late every year giving out a list of the banned substances for the new year, and Sharapova, the highest paid female athlete in sport, admitted to not to clicking on the link that was provided in the email this time.

While that is entirely possible, considering the entourage that top-level players have, it is hard to understand how everybody missed it. Sharapova, though, refused to blame anyone else.

"I take full responsibility for it," the five-time Grand Slam champion added. "I received a letter on Dec. 22 from WADA, an email with changes happening for next year as well as reporting your whereabouts and a link to a button where you can press to see the prohibited items for 2016. I did not look at that list.

"I have to take full responsibility. Because it's my body and it's what I put into my body. And I can't blame anyone for it but myself no matter who I am working with. I think it's very important to have a great team around you with coaches and doctors, but at the end of the day, everything you do is on you."

Sharapova, who has struggled with injuries over the past year and is currently nursing a forearm problem, has been provisionally by the ITF, who confirmed the positive test after Sharapova's press conference.

"On 26 January 2016, Ms. Sharapova provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with her participation in the 2016 Australian Open," ITF said in a statement. "That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Code and, therefore also the TADP.

"Ms. Sharapova has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January. Ms Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case."

Sharapova insisted she wants to continue her career and hoped the ban would not be too harsh. "I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply," Sharapova was quoted by The Guardian. "I know with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game."

Sharapova could get a ban of up to four years, but it is likely to be reduced considerably, considering this is a first-time offence. If the authorities are convinced the player bears no fault or negligence, Sharapova could even escape a ban.

The WTA said they were "saddened" to hear Sharapova had failed a drugs test.

"Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity," WTA CEO Steve Simon was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"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. The WTA will support the decisions reached through this process."

Sharapova's earning power already seems to have taken a hit after Nike put out a statement saying they were suspending their relationship pending the outcome of the investigation over her positive test.

"We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues," Nike said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation."

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