Extra Credit Blog
Monday morning, the sports media thought Maria Sharapova was about to retire. Instead of announcing her retirement, an emotional Sharapova told media gathered at a Los Angeles press conference that she had failed a drug test nearly two months ago at the Australian Open. It was hailed as a communications grand slam by experts; she broke the story herself, kept her composure, and carefully and professionally walked through the complexities of the case.
Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which she claimed she has used for 10 years for various medical issues. It was only recently added to professional tennis’ banned list. Sponsors Porsche, Nike, and Tag Heuer the brands that pay a good chunk of her estimated $29 million salary cut ties with Sharapova within two days of her announcement, suggesting they may have been given a heads up about what was to come.
Tennis equipment brand Head, meanwhile, said it was not only sticking with Sharapova, but would like to extend its contract with her. Sharapova’s goal was likely less to stop the short-term bleeding surely she knew one positive test is one too many for some sponsors and more to help her cause long-term with fans, sanctioning bodies, and potential new sponsors, assuming there’s no second positive test.