Porsche postpones Sharapova activities


Porsche has postponed its planned activities with tennis star Maria Sharapova as the Russian continues to feel the ramifications of her failed drugs test.

The five-time grand slam champion revealed at a news conference on Monday that she tested positive for Meldonium at January's Australian Open.

Sharapova claimed she had been taking the drug for the past 10 years due to health reasons and was unaware it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of prohibited substances as of January 1 this year.

Sportswear giant Nike subsequently suspended its sponsorship deal with Sharapova while the investigation continues and Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer said it will postpone negotiations over renewing its contract with Sharapova, which ended on December 31.

Forbes magazine reported that Sharapova earned $29.5million last year, with the bulk of that sum coming via endorsements, and she is now further counting the cost of her failed test following Porches' announcement.

A Porsche statement read: "We are saddened by the recent news announced by Maria Sharapova. Until further details are released and we can analyse the situation, we have chosen to postpone planned activities [with Sharapova]."

British cycling great Bradley Wiggins says Sharapova must stand as a cautionary tale to all athletes to take responsibility for any substances they consume.

"I feel sorry for her but, at the same time, there is no excuse for it because, at the end of the day, you are responsible for everything you put in your body," he said.

"It isn't an excuse any more to say I didn't see the rules."

Sharapova is set to be provisionally banned from March 12 and her former coach Nick Bollettieri says the suspension will hugely affect the former world number one.

"This will be devastating to Maria," Bollettieri told Sky Sports. "She really has been an outstanding character on and off the court for all of these years."

News of Sharapova's failed test continues to divide the tennis world, with world number one Serena Williams praising her long-time adversary's admission.

"It's just taking responsibility, which she admitted she was willing to do and wanted to do," she said.

"To be honest I think in sport and in life there's always a double standard and everyone knows that, whether it's a race thing or a sex thing.

"However, this is a different thing and she said she's ready to take responsibility and that shows a lot of courage and a lot of heart."

Three-time major champion Jennifer Capriati was less forgiving, though, and called for Sharapova to be stripped of her titles.

"The advantages are so subtle they can be just a hair width difference," she wrote on Twitter. "That gives you only what you need to know to reach that extra level. Sometimes it all about what gives you the most confidence to win.

"In my opinion [if] it's all true every title should be stripped. This is other people's lives as well."