Maria Sharapova was handed a 15-month suspension from tennis after her admittance to using meldonium, an anti-ischemic drug banned by WADA, in March 2016.
Maria Sharapova broke into the scene in 2004 with a memorable Wimbledon win as a 17-year-old and went on to brave her injuries to win a career Grand Slam. But despite all of her successes, the WADA substance controversy made the most headlines during her career.
After failing a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open, Sharapova admitted to testing positive for meldonium, an anti-ischemic drug that was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s banned substances list in January 2016.
Sharapova was initially handed a two-year suspension from the sport after her admittance in March 2016. Later, it was reduced to 15 months, as it was found that she could not be termed as an “intentional doper”.
“That morning [of March 7, 2016] I woke up and felt like I was preparing for a game. It is very hard to think that you have to face the world and say that you have screwed up everything,” said the five-time Grand Slam champion.
“After the press conference, I deleted all social networks from my phone, to protect myself, keep sanity and protect myself from opinions and judgments. I think I have never been concerned with what people think of me, but suddenly this happens and you see that you care what they know.”
“And that disgusted me, it was a very unpleasant feeling,” she added.
Sharapova credited her parents for helping her through the suspension period.
“My mother told me that nothing would happen if I could never play tennis again. She spent weeks sleeping with me so that I was accompanied. My father also accompanied me a lot to make sure nothing went wrong, that he didn’t start blaming others,” she said.
“You had to take control and know that you screwed up.”
Sharapova returned to the WTA tour in April 2017 and after three years of ups and down in the latter stages of her career, she retired from tennis in February 2020.