Tennis star Maria Sharapova admits to failing drug test at Australian Open

LOS ANGELES -- Maria Sharapova announced Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January.

Sharapova, 28, said that she has been taking the drug meldonium since 2006 but it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in January.

She said that she just received a letter March 2 from the International Tennis Foundation but has not yet found out what her penalty will be.

"I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day. I made a huge mistake," Sharapova said. "I let my fans down. I let my sport down."

Sharapova said she was taking the drug meldonium for 10 years to address a number of health issues. She said that she had been getting the flu every couple of months, had irregular EKGs and had evidence of diabetes, which runs in her family. She said that on Jan. 1, rules changed to make the drug illegal, but she was not aware.

"I know with this that I face consequences," she said. "I don't want to end my career this way, and I really hope I'm given another chance to play this game."

The Russian player is currently ranked No. 7 in the world by the Women's Tennis Association and holds five championship titles.

Sharapova addressed rampant speculation that she was going to announce her retirement.

"If I was going to announce my retirement, it wouldn't be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet," she said.

Sharapova, 28, announced Thursday that she was pulling out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells because of a left forearm injury. She has suffered a string of injuries in recent years, including a right leg injury that caused her to withdraw from the 2015 US Open.

The five-time major champion hasn't competed since losing to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.

Meldonium is manufactured in Latvia. It is used in Lithuania and the Russian Federation but is not approved by the United States' Food and Drug Administration.

A number of other athletes have tested positive for the drug since Jan. 1:Abeba Aregawi (Ethiopian born, Swedish nationality, 1500 world champion) Eduard Vorganov (Russian cyclist) EndeShaw Negesse (Ethiopian marathoner) Ekaterina Bobrova (Russian ice dancer) Olga Abramova (Ukranian biathlete).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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