Maria Sharapova loses endorsement deals after failing drug test

Nike and Tag Heuer have suspended their relationship with Maria Sharapova after the Russian tennis star admitted failing a drugs test at this year's Australian Open.

Sportswear giant Nike said it was "saddened and surprised" by Sharapova's confession that she had tested positive for meldonium, a substance added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) banned list on 1 January 2016.

Sharapova is
set to miss out on over £20m if Nike chooses to drop her from its roster permanently, with three years still remaining on an eight-year deal worth £43m signed in 2010.

The five-time Grand Slam tennis champion has enjoyed a relationship with Nike since she was 11-years-old.

Along with Nike Sharapova has partnerships with American Express, Avon, Evian, Head, Porsche and Tag Heuer.

Porsche said they would "postpone planned activities" with the 28-year-old while Avon said they had no comment to make.

She earned around £16m from endorsements alone last year, according to Forbes, making her the highest-earning female athlete in the world.

Yet Sharapova's sponsorship income is now under serious jeopardy after she was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following a failed drugs test.

She admitted she had "made a huge mistake" but claimed not to have known meldonium became a banned substance at the beginning of the year and said she had been given the substance for 10 years on the advice of her family doctor.

A Nike statement read: "We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova. We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues.

"We will continue to monitor the situation."

Tage Heuer commented: "Maria Sharapova was under contract with TAG Heuer until December 31, 2015. We had been in talks to extend our collaboration. In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negotiations and has decided not to renew the contract."

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