Maria Sharapova

What was the accusation?

On January 26, 2016, five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova failed a drug test at the Australian Open, testing positive for traces of meldonium in her system. On March 7, 2016, Sharapova appeared at a press conference in Los Angeles and publicly admitted to failing the drug test. While she took “full responsibility” for the matter, she steadfastly maintained that she had been unaware of recent changes to WADA’s (the World Anti-Doping Agency’s) list of banned substances, which included the prohibition of meldonium. Later, in June of that year, the International Tennis Federation announced that Sharapova would be banned from playing professional tennis for a period of two years (until 2018).    

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Defeasibility, Bolstering



“Hello, everyone. Thank you, um, for being here on such short notice. Um, I wanted to let you know that a few days ago, I received a letter from the ITF that I had failed a drug test at the Australian Open. I did fail the test, and I take full responsibility for it. For the past 10 years, um, I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor, and a few days ago after I received the ITF letter, um, I found out that 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 for the past 10 years. But on January 1st, the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I had not known. I was given this medicine, um, by my doctor for several health issues that I was having back in 2006. I was sick a lot. I was getting the flu every couple of months. I had irregular EKG results, um, as well as indications of diabetes with a family history of diabetes. I thought it was very important for me to come out and speak about this in front of all of you because throughout my long career, I have been very open and honest about many things and I take great responsibility and professionalism, um, in my job every single day, and I made a huge mistake.  I let my fans down. I let the sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply. I know with this I face consequences, and I don’t want to end my career this way, and I really hope that I will be given another chance to play this game. And I know many of you thought that I would be retiring today and announcing my retirement, um, but if I was ever going to announce my retirement, it would probably not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.”


Menezes, J.D. (2016, March 7). Maria Sharapova fails drug test: Her statement in full after admitting testing positive for meldonium. Independent. Retrieved from

Mitchell, K. (2016, June 8). Maria Sharapova receives two-year ban for failing drug test. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Wagner, L. (2016, March 7). Maria Sharapova failed a drug test at Australian Open. NPR. Retrieved from