Two of Maria Sharapova’s biggest sponsors said that they’ll stick with her, despite her being handed a two-year ban from the sport on Wednesdayfor failing a drugs test earlier this year.
Nike initially suspended its estimated $12.5 million-a-year contract with the Russian athlete, when she admitted in March she tested positive for banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open, but now the brand is supporting the tennis champ.
“The ITF [International Tennis Federation] Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules. Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban. Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her.”
Said Nike in a statement given to The Evening Standard,
On the other hand, Head, Sharapova’s racket sponsor has always said it would continue its deal. In fact, Head chairman Johan Eliasach even criticized the ITF’s decision.
The drug meldonium is used to treat cardiac issues and can increase endurance. Sharapova was taking it since 2006 because a variety of health concerns. She said she didn’t know WADA added meldonium to its list of banned substances at the start of 2016.