Stripped Of It All! Is Maria Sharapova Getting What She Deserves?

Yesterday afternoon, the tennis world was dealt a massive blow. In a Los Angeles hotel, media gathered for a press conference in which they expected one of the game's biggest stars, Maria Sharapova, to announce her retirement. But that is not what happened. Sharapova announced to the world that she had tested positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open in January. She had taken  Mildronate, or Meldonium, which was added to the banned substance list January 1. Meldonium, which is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use in the United States, is used to improve blood flow in patients suffering with various cardiac and vascular diseases. It had been on the World Anit-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of substances to watch but moved to the banned substance list when it was shown to improve the performance of healthy athletes by increasing endurance and aerobic capabilities. "I had legally been taking this for ten years," said Sharapova. While she may have been taking it legally in the past, the International Tennis Federation sent her a letter on December 22 informing her of the changes to Meldonium's status. Sharapova admits to receiving the letter but says that she failed to follow up on the information that was provided. "I take responsibility for my professionalism in my job and I made a big mistake. I know there will be consequences and I don't want to end my career this way. I really hope I will be given another chance to play tennis again. I can't blame anyone but myself. I have let my fans down." [bctt tweet="Stripped Of It All! Is Maria Sharapova Getting What She Deserves?"] Sharapova's future in the sport is uncertain at this point but one thing is clear, her major sponsorship and endorsement deals are disappearing. Hours after the press conference, Nike nixed it's $70 million deal with Sharapova and Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer followed suit saying that it's contract with her had expired at the end of 2015 and they've stopped negotiations on a new contract. She's not having any luck with Porche either. They claim they are not dumping Sharapova, they are just not pursuing any further action with her. Of Sharapova's estimated 2015 earnings of $29.7 million, $23 million of that came from  endorsements and sponsorships. Losing these deals is a pretty hefty punishment.   Sharapova is a champion. She defeated Serena Williams at Wimbledon when she was just 17, and went on to win four more Grand Slam titles, are these companies justified in severing ties with her?  She has been a role model for countless young women. For a decade, she has been the highest paid female athlete on the planet and now, what she claims to be a mistake, has changed all of that. Do you think this is exactly what should be happening? Should she be dropped by her sponsors and banned from the sport? Do you believe she has cheated or do you believe in second chances? Is this reaction too harsh? Tell us your thoughts! Source: Daily Mail, The Richest, Independent

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