Former world number one Maria Sharapova revealed on Monday that she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open, BBC reported.
Addressing the media, the tennis star said:
"I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it. For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor and a few days ago after I received a letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation] I 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 banned list and I had been legally taking that medicine for the past 10 years," she added.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) changed its rules on the drug, in January this year.
Meldonium is an anti-ischemic drug that is meant to treat angina, heart attacks, and heart failure. Anti-ischemic drugs prevent the deprivation of oxygen to the heart, brain, or other organs. WADA noted that the drug has potential "cardiac effects."
The Guardian reported that WADA found “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance” and the decision to add meldonium to the banned list was approved on 16 September, 2015, and it came into effect on 1 January, 2016.
In her address, Sharapova also added that she was taking the drug as "I was getting sick very often … and I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes."
Though the quantum of the punishment is yet to be announced, the International Tennis Federation has confirmed she will be provisionally suspended from the sport with effect from March 12.
Watch her full statement here.