Nike cuts ties with Maria Sharapova, other sponsors follow suit
One of the first consequences of Maria Sharapova’s open admission to have failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open was seen earlier this morning when sports brand Nike decided to suspend their ties with the 28-year-old Russian.
In a statement released by the firm on Monday, Nike said that they were saddened yet surprised by the revelation of the 5-time Grand Slam champion and added that they would continue to monitor the situation.
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova. We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation,” Nike said.
The 2004 Wimbledon champion admitted that she had made a “huge mistake” and also took full ownership for it.
“I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down and I let the sport down. I take full responsibility for it.
"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game,” she said.
Sharapova was associated with the brand for over a decade and in 2010 signed the most lucrative female sports contract ever for an 8-year time period worth $70 million. The deal also involved the Russian passing some sketches to the firm and in return, receiving a percentage from the sales.
She also said that for the last decade, the drug meldonium was not on the list of banned substances of the World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) and that she had been consuming it illegally.
"It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA's banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine. But on January the first, the rules have changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance,” the Russian said.
WADA have refused to comment on this issue until the International Tennis Federation (ITF) takes a final call on the matter.
Sharapova has also lost other major sponsors. Watch manufacturer Tag Heuer, who had been due to extend their contract with the Russian ace, have said they will “not be extending (the) contract” with her. They had been in talks with Sharapova to “... extend collaboration, but in light of the current situation” had chosen not to.Published 08 Mar 2016, 10:28 IST