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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday March 7, 2016

Maria Sharapova promised a "major announcement."

It was a blockbuster.

Sharapova announced today she tested positive for meldonium, which had been recently added to the WADA banned substance list, at the Australian Open.

The five-time Grand Slam told members of the media her story and took full responsibility for the events that led up to her failed test. "I can't blame anybody for it but myself," she said. "No matter who I am working with."

The former world No. 1 said she was first prescribed the drug back in 2006 for a variety of health issues.

"I had several health issues going on at the time; I was getting sick very often," Sharapova said. "I had a deficiency in magnesium, I had irregular EKG results and I had a family history of diabetes. And it was one of the medications, along with several others, that I had received."

The Russian went on to say that the substance was not banned by WADA until recently. She said she failed to read the changes when they were emailed to her last December.

"I received a letter from December 22nd from WADA," Sharapova said. "An email with the changes happening for next year and a link to a button where you can press to see the prohibited items for 2016 and I did not look at that list."

Meldonium was added to the WADA banned substance list because of "evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance," according to The Guardian. Swimmers and endurance athletes have used meldonium to increase endurance and aerobic capability.

The 28-year-old said she doesn't know the length of suspension she is facing or when she can possibly return to the tour.

"I do not know the consequences," Sharapova said. "I just received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF... I believe it depends on the process that we will have along with the ITF."

The ITF said in a statement that Sharapova would be provisionally suspended from competition on March 12, pending a full determination of her case. Sharapova could face a two-year ban.

The world No. 7 expressed her regret, and added that she is hoping to continue her career, before leaving the podium.

"I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down, I let the sport down," she said. "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, who withdrew from Brisbane in January, has battled leg, shoulder and forearm injuries throughout the last year. She's played five matches this year and missed nearly four months last year following her Wimbledon semifinal loss to Serena Williams.

WTA CEO Steve Simon issued this statement following Sharapova's announcement.

"I am very saddened to hear this news about Maria.  Maria is a leader and I have always known her to be a woman of great integrity," Simon said. "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.” 

 

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