Tennis ace Maria Sharapova has suffered a financial as well as reputational hit following a sensational admission to a packed press gathering that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open, leading to sponsor Nike to suspend its deal with the fallen star.
The athletics brand was swift to react to the news, announcing that it was suspending its relationship with the tennis champion, who tested positive for Meldonium – a drug normally administered to heart patients to speed their recovery but which also enhances endurance performance.
Nike’s deal was worth $70m through 2010-2018 but it is now unclear whether there is any way back for the player to try and regain her reputation.
A black-clad Sharapova told the waiting press: "I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply.
"I know with this I face consequences. I don't want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game."
Sharapova had been the world’s highest paid sportswoman and had been expected to announce her retirement on a high at the Los Angeles press conference, where the Russian instead made her shocking confession.
Now the five times Grand Slam winner faces the prospect of a year’s ban from the game.