Nike Suspends Contract With Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova 2016 Australian Open Shoes
Maria Sharapova in Nike.
AP Images.

Maria Sharapova’s sponsors are distancing themselves from the tennis star after she admitted yesterday to failing a drug test.

Nike suspended its contract with the 28-year-old tennis player late Monday, and that was followed by Tag Heuer and Porsche this morning.

Sharapova said in a press conference Monday she tested positive for meldonium, a heart medication, during this year’s Australian Open. The drug was added to the banned substances list by the World Anti-Doping Agency as of Jan. 1, 2016, though Sharapova said she’d been taking it legally for the past 10 years. The International Tennis Federation notified Sharapova of the failed test and suspended her from the game during the investigation.

Nike released a short statement saying it would suspend its relationship with Sharapova “while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

“I did fail the test, and I take full responsibility for it,” she said Monday during a news conference held in Los Angeles. “Throughout my long career, I’ve been open and honest about many things. I take great responsibility and professionalism in my job every day, and I made a huge mistake. I’ve let my fans down. I’ve let this sport down.”

Sharapova has been a Nike athlete for more than a decade; in 2010, she signed an eight-year contract renewal worth about $70 million. During Monday’s press conference, she spoke about wanting to return to the sport.

“I know that with this I face consequences, and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game,” Sharapova said.