TENNIS | MARIA SHARAPOVA

Maria Sharapova failed drug test at Australian Open

The world number seven said she had been informed by WADA that she tested positive for Meldonium, which was added to the banned list for 2016.

Former tennis world number one Maria Sharapova said on Monday that she recently received a letter saying she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old Russian, a five-times grand slam champion,has not competed since she lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January and has struggled with a series of injuries in recent years.

Sharapova said she tested positive for meldonium and that she did not look at a list of banned substances for 2016 that the World Anti-Doping Agency had sent last December.

"I was first given the substance back in 2006. I had several health issues going on at the time," Sharapova told a news conference in Los Angeles. "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. That is one of the medications, along with others, that I received."

"I did fail the test, and I take full responsibility for it," a sombre Sharapova said at a press conference at a downtown Los Angeles hotel.

"I made a huge mistake," she said. "I let my fans down. I let my sport down that I've been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply," added Sharapova, her voice wavering.

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

Sharapova said she did not yet know just what all the consequences would be, but said she was cooperating with the International Tennis Federation.