Maria Sharapova has confirmed that she failed a drugs test during this year's Australian Open and is expecting to face punishment from the International Tennis Federation in the near future.
The substance in question is called meldonium, which Sharapova claimed had been legal to take before 1 January 2016.
She claims she had no idea the substance was banned until she received a letter from the ITF notifying her of the failed test. It is also believed that the substance is not performance-enhancing and did not aid recovery from injury.
Article continues below
However, the 28-year-old was not making excuses and is ready to face the consequences.
Speaking to the press during a media call on Monday evening, the Russian said: “I have to take full responsibility for it, it’s my body and I have to be responsible for what I put in my body.
Article continues below
"For the past 10 years I have been taking a medicine called mildronate by my doctor, my family doctor, and a few days ago after I received the letter from the ITF found out it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know.
"It is very important for you to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on Wada's [World Anti-Doping Agency] banned list and I had been legally taking that medicine for the past 10 years.
"But on 1 January the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known."
She added: "I received an email on 22 December from Wada about the changes happening to the banned list and you can see prohibited items, and I didn't click on that link."
Sharapova is currently ranked seventh in the world but has struggled to cope with an arm injury, playing just four tournaments since appearing at Wimbledon last year. She reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before being defeated by Serna Williams.
"I made a huge mistake," she said.
"I have let my fans down, and let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply.
"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way. I really hope to be given another chance to play this game."
It was originally believed that Sharapova was going to announce her retirement from the sport as a result of the spate of injury problems she has had over the years.
"I know many of you thought that I would be retiring today but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet," she said.