Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) has ended its relationship with a tennis star Maria Sharapova after failing a drug test at the Australian Open. The tennis player has been taking meldonium for the last decade for health reasons. Sharapova stated that she was not aware of the ban on the drug by World Anti-Doping Agency. As a result, she would lose her place at the Rio 2016 Olympics along with the $298,000 won by her in January last at the Australian Open.
Surprised And Saddened
Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) spokesperson, Kejuan Wilkins, said that the company was saddened and surprised by the latest events that unfolded Sharapova. The Sports goods maker has been working with the tennis player for over a decade now. The spokesperson said that as the investigation continues, it would suspend its alliance with the tennis player. The company would continue to observe the situation arising out of the drug test failure.
In 2010, Sharapova extended her sponsorship tie-up with Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) for another eight years. The agreement was valued $70 million and included a line of dresses, which were designed by the tennis player herself. The 28-year-old sportsperson has been struggling with injuries in the current season as she was able to win only $298,000. She lost the quarterfinals at the Australian Open to Serena Williams.
Not The Only One
Sharapova was not the only one to take Meldonium, which was used to treat heart conditions, as well as, brain circulation disorders in Russia and Latvia. However, the drug was not on the approved list. The drug maker indicated on its website that meldonium enhances physical capacity, as well as, mental function. That was the reason six wrestlers, and Russian cyclist, who have taken the drug, have tested positive for the current year.
The recent development meant that Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) would not be using the name and picture of Sharapova in its promotional activities in any form, be it audio or video or image. As far as the tennis player, she would be losing money for the remaining period of the tie-up since the company would not be using her name.