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Maria Sharapova: I failed drug test at Australian Open

I've made a huge mistake, says former world number one

Maria Sharapova has announced that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open.

The Russian, 28, tested positive for meldonium, a substance she has been taking since 2006 for health issues.

The former world number one revealed that she has been taking medicine given to her by her doctor for the past 10 years that was not on the banned substances list.

However, on 1 January it was added, with Sharapova claiming she was unaware of the developments. The Russian confirmed that she accepts that she has failed a drugs test.

"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way and I hope that will have a chance to play again," she told reporters at a press conference in Los Angeles.

"I had been taking this medicine for the past 10 years, but on 1 January this became a prohibited substance which I did not know.

"I received an email on 22 December 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 on that link."

The International Tennis Federation announced Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from March 12.

The five-time Grand Slam champion added: "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."

Ahead of the press conference Sharapova said there would be a “major announcement”. Many observers expected her to announce her retirement from the game.

She said: "I know many of you thought I was retiring but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would probably not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet."

Sharapova is ranked seventh in the world but has played just four tournaments since Wimbledon last July.  A string of injuries left the player struggling for form.

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