Maria Sharapova lost her title as world's highest paid female athlete after a failed drug test, according to Forbes
, and now she stands to lose as much as $50 million from a resulting a two-year pro tennis ban.
The International Tennis Federation hit Sharapova with the ban on Wednesday for failing a January drug test at the Australian Open. The federation said it could have suspended the highly-ranked Sharapova for four years but ruled she broke the drug rules unintentionally, according to Forbes.
Sharapova will miss the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil; she won the silver medal in 2012. One of 10 women in pro tennis history with a career Grand Slam, she could miss up to eight of those tournaments, according to NBC Sports
The ban's starting date of Jan. 26, 2016, means she likely will not be eligible for the start of the 2018 Australian Open. She will miss the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year and in 2017 along with the 2017 French Open. She did not play in this year's French Open because of the failed drug test. She will also miss out on defending her title at the Italian Open, which she won last May, according to BBC Sports
Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, also known as mildronate at the Australian Open, which was recently banned by the sport, reported ESPN
. Sharapova had argued in March that she had been using the drug under a doctor's care since 2006 and had not known it was banned.
She said she used meldonium, which boosts blood and oxygen flow, because of irregular electrocardiogram results and a family history of heart issues and diabetes, said ESPN.
Sharapova announced that she will appeal the ITF ruling
"The suspension, which is backdated to January, has massive financial implications for Sharapova, who was the world's highest-paid female athlete for 11 straight years before Serena Williams took the crown this year," wrote Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen.
"(Sharapova) has earned $285 million during her career and averaged $25 million in earnings from prize money, appearances and endorsements over the past seven years. The suspension could cost Sharapova $50 million in lost earnings over the next few years, on top of her climbing legal bills," Badenhausen said.
Nike, one of Sharapova's major sponsors, said it planned to keep the tennis star as a client, reported CNN
"Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban," Nike said in a statement, per CNN. "Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her."
Initially, Nike and automaker Porsche suspended sponsorship deals with Sharapova when news first broke in March about the failed drug test, noted CNN. Sports equipment company HEAD stayed with Sharapova at the time.
TAG Heuer, a Swiss watch brand, ended negotiations in March over renewing a sponsorship with her.
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