On Wednesday, superstar Maria Sharapova was suspended from tennis for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open. Sharapova immediately responded, saying she would fight this to the best of her abilities. The five-time Grand Slam champion was initially suspended in March by the International Tennis Federation for failing a drug test in January.
The World Anti-Doping Agency banned meldonium, which is also known as mildronate, on January 1, and it was reported that Sharapova took this drug after the aforementioned date. The International Tennis Federation also reported that Sharapova failed a drug test in an out-of-competition test in February in Moscow for the same thing.
Sharapova initially started taking the banned drug in 2006, which is typically used for heart conditions. Apparently meldonium helps increase the capacity for exercise, as blood flow increases and oxygen travels easier to one's muscles. If Sharapova's suspension is upheld, she would not be able to return to tennis until January 25, 2018, which puts the 29-year-old Russian's career in doubt.
At one point in time, Sharapova was considered to be one of the best women tennis players in the entire world. However, after shoulder surgery in 2008, the former #1 player in the world dropped out of the top 100 world rankings and struggled to fight her way back. Nevertheless, Sharapova fought back to win the French open in 2012 and is currently ranked as the 26th player in the world.
Approximately 200 athletes around sports tested positive for this banned substance, with most of them coming from Russia. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, as Sharapova is one of the most successful women tennis players from a monetary level, closing in on $30 million in revenue in 2015.