Maria Sharapova could face a ban ranging between two to four years after the WTA’s world No. 6 admitted she failed a test for a now banned substance, possibly ending her season and a chance to play for Russia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The International Tennis Federation confirmed that Sharapova will be “provisionally suspended” from Mar. 12 after the Siberian Siren’s anti-doping sample returned positive for meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-doping Agency’s list of banned substance this year. However, according to Oliver Brown of the Daily Telegraph, the five-time Grand Slam winner could be facing a ban of two to four years depending on the outcome of the investigation.
Sharapova faces four-year ban if she is found to have taken meldonium intentionally to enhance performance. Two years if unintentional.
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) March 7, 2016
Sharapova revealed at a press conference on Monday that she had tested positive for meldonium, sending shockwaves to the entire tennis world. All players were notified about the changes in the WADA banned substances list in December last year, but Sharapova claimed she simply missed the amendment and neglected to click the link on an email.
The 28-year-old Russian said she has been taking the substance since 2006 for several health issues, which, according to The Star , include magnesium deficiency, regular influenza, “irregular” heart test results and a family history of early indications of diabetes.
"I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it," Sharapova said, reports the BBC. "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 a letter from the ITF I found out it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know."
Sharapova, who failed the test on the day she was defeated by Serena Williams at the Australian Open, is also bound to lose her sponsorship from sports apparel giant Nike, according to the ABC. Nike has suspended its ties with Sharapova while investigations continue.
"We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova," Nike said in a statement. "We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation."