Maria Sharapova Could Lose Close To $100 Million In Endorsements After PED Admission
Nike stuck with Tiger Woods during the whole mistress cheating scandal, but the company was a lot less tolerant of Maria Sharapova's situation on Monday. Just hours after the Russian tennis star admitted she tested positive for a banned substance at January's Australian Open, Nike "suspended" her $70 million sportswear contract -- the largest contract they've ever crumpled up.
Sharapova, who has won five Grand Slams and 35 singles titles in her 15-year career, made the big admission at a press conference she called at a Los Angeles hotel, saying that she had taken Mildronate – which has been banned by the International Tennis Federation since Jan. 1. And she's been taking it for about 10 years.
Nike acted just hours later, followed by TAG Heuer (Swiss watches). Sharapova's contract with them had expired in December, and they won't renew it. There's a similar situation with Porsche. While they're not dropping her, they also announced that they're "not pursuing any further activities" with her, according to the company.
Mildronate is an anti-ischemic drug added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned substances list in January. Meaning that three months ago it was completely legal, due to the fact that it couldn't be detected, and the ADA didn't know about it. The drug increases oxygen flow in the blood, helps athletes recover from injury quickly and provides stamina.
"I had legally been taking this for ten years," Sharapova 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 Lost Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet."
What? You're not really cutting a very sympathetic character, are you dear? Entitled much?
Sharapova admitted to receiving the notification that the substance had been banned, but just ignored it. Actually she said that she "didn't click the link" for details, but come on. Sharapova:
"I take responsibility for my professionalism in my job and I made a big mistake. I know there will be consequences and I don't want to end my career this way. I really hope I will be given another chance to play tennis again. I can't blame anyone but myself. I have let my fans down."
And that's the thing. This may seem like a small deal -- using a drug that was only banned on Jan. 1. But the idea that Sharapova used a PED at all, legal or not, turns off a lot of people. Has she done it her entire career? Is she a synthetic sports star?
Sharapova was "Provisionally suspended" from tennis beginning March 12, pending further investigation. That means she could be through with pro tennis. However, the Russian government says that she will still participate at the Rio Olympics, for which she qualified last year. Because of course they did. Sharapova won a silver at the 2012 Games.
Former U.S. tennis star Jennifer Capriati fired off a series of tweets slamming Sharapova, which she has now deleted.
"I had to lose my career and never opted to cheat no matter what. I had to throw in the towel and suffer."
"I didn't have the high priced team of drs that found a way for me to cheat and get around the system and wait for science to catch up."
Sharapova has been injured several times in her career, and likewise has had several comebacks. Time for her to just quietly retire -- as soon as she can find some tasteful carpeting.
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