Maria Sharapova says she failed drug test at Australian Open

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Sharapova Reveals Positive Drug Test

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Former tennis world No.1 Maria Sharapova said on Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open due to a substance she has been taking the last 10 years for health issues.

The 28-year-old Russian, a five-time grand slam champion, tested positive for meldonium, which is used to treat diabetes and low magnesium, and was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as of Jan. 1.

Maria Sharapova through the years::

Maria Sharapova through the years
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Maria Sharapova says she failed drug test at Australian Open
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Tennis player Maria Sharapova reacts as she addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Sharapova, a five-time major champion, is currently the 7th ranked player on the WTA tour. Sharapova, withdrew from this weekÂs BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells due to injury. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova of Russia gets set for a serve from Monica Seles during their match Thursday, March 7, 2002, in Indian Wells, Calif. Seles won the match 6-0, 6-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after missing a shot during her semi-final match against Monica Seles of the United States in the Hong Kong Ladies Challenge tennis tournament in Hong Kong Friday, Jan. 3, 2003. Seles won 6-3, 6-0. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Russia's Maria Sharapova returns to Yugoslavia's Jelena Dokic, during their Women's Singles, third round match on the Number One Court, on the sixth day of the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Saturday, June 28, 2003. Sharapova won the match 6-4, 6-4.(AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, center, smiles during a demonstration session at Hong Kong's Victoria Tennis Court Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004. Sharapova will have friendly match with Venus Williams and Chanda Rubin of the United States, and Russia's Elena Dementieva on Jan. 8-10. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts after defeating Yulia Beygeizimer of the Ukraine in their Women's Singles, first round match at Wimbledon, Monday June 21, 2004. (AP Photo/Sang Tan) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **
Maria Sharapova, of Russia, serves to Amelie Mauresmo (not shown), of France, during their semifinal match at the WTA Championships at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005. Mauresmo won, 7-6, 6-3. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Maria Sharapova from Russia serves against Justine Henin-Hardenne from Belgium during her WTA Championships tennis tournament semi-final match in Madrid, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2006. Justine Henin-Hardenne won the match in two sets 6-2, 7-6. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates winning her match against fellow countrywoman Anna Chakvetadze during the Sony Ericsson Championships match in Madrid, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. Sharapova won 6-2, 6-2. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Russia's tennis player Maria Sharapova looks on during a press conference, Saturday Dec. 29, 2007, in Singapore where she will play against compatriot Anna Chakvetadze at an exhibition match on Sunday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Maria Sharapova, of Russia, returns the ball against Daniela Hantuchova at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., Wednesday, March 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark Avery)
Tennis Player Maria Sharapova unveils a limited edition Canon PowerShot diamond encrusted camera on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
Maria Sharapova of Russia holds the trophy after the final match against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo, Japan, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Former No. 1-ranked Sharapova won her first tournament since returning from a 10-month injury layoff when Jankovic was forced to retire in the first set. Jankovic retired with an injured right arm trailing 5-2 in the first set. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
Russia's Maria Sharapova waves to the public after defeating compatriot Ksenia Pervak during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Laurent Baheux)
Professional tennis player Maria Sharapova watches the New Jersey Nets vs. the Charlotte Bobcats in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 11, 2011 in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during a tennnis match against Samantha Stosur of Australia at the WTA championship in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. Sharapova lost to Stosur 6-1, 7-5. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Maria Sharapova of Russia, serves to Roberta Vinci of Italy, during their match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Russia's Maria Sharapova looks up after beating Australian Samantha Stosur 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 during their quarterfinal match at the Porsche tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, Friday, April 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Maria Sharapova arrives at the 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target launch event at Spring Studio on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Dario Cantatore/Invision/AP)
Maria Sharapova of the Manila Mavericks autographs large tennis balls of fans following her win over Kristina Mladenovic of the UAE Royals in their IPTL (International Premier Tennis League) Women's Singles match Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 at the Mall of Asia Arena at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. The IPTL, featuring four teams, introduces a new format in tennis and a chance for a championship prize of $1-million dollars. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates after defeating Flavia Pennetta of Italy during their singles match at the WTA tennis finals in Singapore on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

"I received a letter from the ITF (International Tennis Federation) saying that I had failed a drug test at the Australian Open  and I take full responsibility for it," Sharapova told a news conference in a downtown Los Angeles hotel.

"For the past 10 years, I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor  and 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 the medicine. But on January the first, the rules have changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance."

Meldonium is used to treat chest pain and heart attacks, but some researchers have linked it to increased athletic performance and endurance. It is not approved in the United States but is available in Russia, Latvia and other countries in that region.

The stunning news came a day after Sharapova's management team said she was going to make a "major announcement," which had many speculating that she was going to announce her retirement from professional tennis.

"I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down and I let the sport down. I have been playing since the age of four a sport that I love so deeply," said Sharapova, a teenage tennis prodigy who became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion.

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"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game."

Sharapova, who has struggled with a series of injuries in recent years, has not competed since she lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January.

"I was first given this medicine by my doctor for several health issues I was having back in 2006," said Sharapova, who according to Forbes earned $29.5 million in 2015.

"I was getting sick a lot. I was getting the flu every couple of months. I had irregular EKG results.

"I had a deficiency in magnesium and a family history of diabetes, and there were signs of diabetes. That is one of the medications, along with others, that I received."

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