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Sponsors leaving Tag Heuer drops Sharapova over drug test

Sharapova: "I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game."

(Keystone)

Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer says it is dropping its sponsorship of Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova after she admitted failing a drug test on Monday. 

“Maria Sharapova was under contract with TAG Heuer until December 31, 2015. We had been in talks to extend our collaboration. In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negotiations and has decided not to renew the contract,” the unit of French luxury goods group LVMH said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sharapova, 28, a five-times grand slam champion said she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January because of a substance, meldonium, she was taking for health issues. 

She is the seventh athlete in a month to test positive for meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as of January 1.

The news lead sponsors Nike and Porsche to announce they were suspending ties during the investigation.

The former world number one took full responsibility for her mistake when she made the announcement at a news conference in Los Angeles.

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Sharapova could face a lengthy ban from the International Tennis Federation, possibly ending her season and preventing her from competing for Russia at the Rio Olympics.

Meldonium is also used to treat chest pain and heart attacks among other conditions, but some researchers have linked it to increased athletic performance and endurance. It is listed by WADA among its prohibited metabolic modulators, along with insulin, and some researchers say it can also help recovery.

It is not approved in the United States but is available in Russia, Latvia and other countries in that region.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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