Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been dismissed by the United Nations as its goodwill ambassador, following her admission of failing a drugs test at the Australian Open in January. The Russian athlete who was appointed to the post by the UN in 2007, was asked to step aside until her case is heard by an independent tribunal after a complete investigation.
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) remains grateful to Maria Sharapova for her support of our work, especially around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery,” the CNN quoted a UNDP spokesperson. “However, in light of Ms. Sharapova’s recent announcement, we last week suspended her role as a Goodwill Ambassador and any planned activities while the investigation continues. We wish Ms. Sharapova the best.”
Sharapova, 28, worth an estimated US$195 million (AU$261 million), was appointed to the post with a symbolic salary of US$1 (AU$1.34) a month. At the time, Sharapova had said it was one of her “proudest contracts ever.”
On becoming the ambassador in 2007, Sharapova made a donation of US$100,000 (AU$134,000) towards 1986 Chernobyl disaster. She mainly focused on helping the victims of one of the worst kinds of nuclear disaster, besides working with a UN program that aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality for nearly a decade.
Sharapova once lived with her family about 80 miles away from Chernobyl, located in the Belorussian city of Gomel. Her family was forced to flee the place to protect themselves from the radiation, after the nuclear plant catastrophe.
The tennis star has been suspended from playing and has not yet clarified a number of key areas in her case. These include whether she disclosed the use of Meldonium, the drug she was tested positive with, over the past 10 years during tests and the role of her family doctor, the Mail Online reported.
Sharapova said that she had been taking the drug since 2006 but dismissed allegations that she took it daily. She said that she went by the doctors’ recommendations and took the drug on low dosages. However, a report published last week suggested that the drug recommended for patients in the normal course of treatment is for four to six weeks.
Meanwhile, Russians are queueing up to buy the drug used by Sharapova and there has been a rise in the sales since the news broke, the Washington Post reported. The drug was developed in Latvia and the manufacturer, Grindeks, is hoping the sales would double in March.