The tennis player, who is the most "successful" female athlete on the planet in terms of earnings, has been banned from tennis in the wake of her admission that she failed a drugs test at the Australian open. 

The drug in question is meldonium, and she has been taking under the guise of mildronate for "health reasons" for the last decade. According to The Guardian, the 28-year-old tennis player "was unaware of both the different name and the fact it is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list until she received a letter notifying her of the positive test 10 days ago."

At a press conference in LA last night, Sharapova said:

"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. 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... 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 is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on Wada’s banned list and I had legally been taking the medicine for the past 10 years. But on 1 January the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance which I had not known. I failed the test and I take full responsibility for it. I made a huge mistake.”

The ITF has said that the Russian now faces an outright ban from the sport. She was "informed of the positive test on 2 March and she will be provisionally suspended from 12 March."

Sharapova’s has many sponsors, which have led to her being so successful. One of said sponsors - Nike - have said they have ended their relationship with Sharapova while she's under investigation. In their statement, they added. “We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova."

it had been widely reported yesterday that Sharapova had called a very important press conference, with many assuming she was announcing her retirement. Acknowledging this, the player said she would not end her career in a "downtown Los Angeles Hotel" with "this fairly ugly carpet."

Via The Guardian