Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova is facing a possible ban in her sports after a failed drug test.
photo credit: afp
Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer is the latest to sever ties with Sharapova.
Before this, Nike and German luxury car maker Porsche also suspends their contract with the five-time Grand Slam champion while awaiting the decision of her possible ban in tennis.
Sharapova is the highest-paid female athlete for the past 11 years and based on Forbes, her earnings is more than $200 million.
“We’re now entering a zero tolerance era for sponsors,” said Rupert Pratt, co-founder of sports sponsorship agency Generate. “It is now seen as not acceptable to ‘stand by your man’ because of the amount of scrutiny corporates are now under”.
The 28-year old Sharapova started her career after winning the Wimbledon in 2004.
Last Monday, Sharapova announced that she had tested positive for meldonium, which she was taking for diabetes and low magnesium.
The drug is also used to treat chest pain and heart problems as it boosts blood flow. Some researchers have linked it to increased athletic performance, longer endurance and speedier recovery. It was recently listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) among its prohibited metabolic modulators, which include insulin.
The substance found in Sharapova was just banned on the beginning of this year by WADA.
However, Sharapova defended herself that she is taking this drug for almost a decade now and she has no information that its substance was banned already.
Sharapova is hoping for the renewal of his contract to TAG Heuer before the controversy.
“In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negotiations and has decided not to renew the contract,” TAG Heuer, a unit of French luxury goods group LVMH, said in a statement.
“We regret the current news about Maria Sharapova. Until further details emerge and we are able to analyse the situation, we have decided to suspend planned activities,” said by Porsche.
It followed Nike Inc, the world’s largest sportswear maker, they were “saddened and surprised” by the news.
She will be provisionally suspended from playing tennis from March 12 and could be prevented from competing for Russia at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this year.
Fans of Sharapova all over the world have surprisingly not dwindled and continued their support to their idol. Fellow tennis star Serena Williams and the Russian Tennis Federation also joined them on the call to let Sharapova play the sport.