As a result of Maria Sharapova’s announcement during a Monday press conference that she failed a doping test at the Australian Open, three sponsors have cut their ties with the tennis star. Nike, Tag Heuer, and Porsche all quickly separated themselves from Sharapova after the news was revealed.
“We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova,” Nike said in a statement, via MSN. “We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation.” Nike extended Sharapova’s deal back in 2010, according to ESPN, and was worth as much as $70 million.
Tag Heuer, a Swiss luxury watchmaker that has been partnered with Sharapova since 2004, said that talks between the two parties to extend a contract were in place, but that changed after the announcement.
BREAKING: TAG Heuer, which has been with Maria Sharapova since 2004, says their relationship is now over pic.twitter.com/Vtqr6tUjVc
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 8, 2016
Following the lead of the two aforementioned brands, Porsche also released a statement, distancing themselves from Sharapova. “We are saddened by the recent news announced by Maria Sharapova,” the company said, via The Guardian. “Until further details are released and we can analyse the situation, we have chosen to postpone planned activities.”
“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my career every day,” Sharapova said at her press conference. “I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let my sport down.” She explained that she had been taking mildronate (also known as meldonium) for a decade to help out with other health issues. Typically, the drug is used with cardiac patients. It helps with low magnesium levels, and is now banned for its effects of promoting blood flow, along with helping oxygen uptake and endurance.
Sharapova also explained that when she received the World Anti-Doping Agency email on Jan. 1, she didn’t check to see what substances had been added to the list, resulting in her continued usage of the drug.
“I know with this that I face consequences. I don’t want to end my career this way,” Sharapova said. “And I really hope I’m given another chance to play this game.”