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'Maria reckless beyond description'

Sky Sports Sky Sports 9/03/2016
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Maria Sharapova was "reckless beyond description" and can have no excuses for her failed drug test, according to former World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound. 

On Monday, Sharapova revealed at a press conference in Los Angeles that she had returned a positive test for meldonium, a substance she had been taking legally taken for 10 years to deal with health issues such as an irregular heartbeat and a history of diabetes in her family, but which was added to the WADA banned list at the start of 2016.

The 28-year-old is now waiting to hear what sanctions she will face from the International Tennis Federation, who informed the payer of her positive test on March 2 and confirmed she would be provisionally suspended from March 12 pending an independent tribunal to hear the case.

According to Forbes, Sharapova earned some £21m in 2015 which made the Russian the highest-earning female athlete in the world for the last 11 years, with her off-court endorsements dwarfing her income from prize money.

Sharapova, who has since had here sponsorship deals with Nike and Porsche suspended as well as her association with Tag Heuer terminated, now faces an uncertain future in the spot and could be banned for up to four years. 

Pound, who was the first president of WADA and held office from 1999 to 2007, cannot fathom how Sharapova allowed herself to be in this situation, given the high stakes involved, both professionally and financially and claims she was .reckless beyond description". 

"Running a $30m (£21m) business depends on you staying eligible to play tennis. You are taking something on a list, which you have known about for four months. I am sorry, that is a big mistake - of course she should have known," Pound told BBC Sport.

"She is taking something that is not generally permitted in her country of residence (the United States) for medical purposes, so she says, so there must be a doctor following this."

Meldonium was added to banned list following, according to WADA, "evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance".

Sharapova claimed she had not read the updated list of banned substances sent to athletes in December and took "full responsibility" for her actions.

Pound added: "Any time there is a change to the list, notice is given on 30 September prior to the change. You have October, November, December to get off what you are doing.

"All the tennis players were given notification of it and she has a medical team somewhere. That is reckless beyond description."

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