Maria Sharapova has announced that she has failed a drugs test.
The Russian star failed a test during the Australian Open and claimed that a change in ITF (International Tennis Federation) drug rules had caused the problem.
She does not yet know what the ramifications will be but she hopes to return to the tour in the future.
A ban is expected to be implemented, however, and the ITF have provisionally suspended Sharapova starting from March 12.
She failed the drug test for Meldonium, which was only on the banned list since January 1. It increases endurance performance of athletes and improves rehabilitation.
The Russian athlete claimed that she was unaware that it had been added to the banned substances list and that she had been taking it since 2006 for health issues.
She admitted her fault for taking the drug and was quick to admonish anyone else from blame.
‘I failed the test and take full responsibility for that,’ she said.
‘I had been taking this medicine for the past 10 years, but on January 1 this became a prohibited substance which I did not know.
‘I received an email on December 22 from WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items, and I didn’t click that link.
‘I made a huge mistake.
‘I know I face consequences and I didn’t want to end my career this way.
‘I hope I will be given the chance to play this game again.’
Sharapova, 28, is one of the most recognisable faces in the sport and was ranked as world number seven at the time of her announcement.
She has won all four Grand Slams during her career and five in total.
Sharapova rose to fame after defeating Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final at just 17 years of age to become the third-youngest woman to win the tournament.
Many believe she is one of the finest players of all time but injuries have hampered her progress in recent years.
She has only played three tournaments in the last eight months due to various injury problems.
Despite her issues, Sharapova is believed to be the highest-paid female athlete in the world and has a series of high-profile sponsors.
Speculation had been rife that she was set to retire but she shocked the world with her announcement.
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