Porsche, Nike and others cut ties with Maria Sharapova
Brands are slinking away from tennis star Maria Sharapova after she admitted to failing a drug test.
Sharapova, one of the world’s top ranking female players — although has struggled recently with a spate of injuries — revealed at a press conference Monday that she had tested positive for a meldonium, a drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, during the Australian Open in January.
She said she was taking the medicine for diabetes and low magnesium, but research links it to increased athletic performance. Sharapova could face a lifetime ban from the sport.
Now, just one day after the admission multiple brands that the 28-year-old represents, such Nike and Porsche, are distancing itselves from Sharapova over fears her revelation could damage its images.
Here’s what each brand said:
For nearly the past two decades, Nike has been outfitting Sharapova with her on-court looks and even selling a line of branded tennis clothes. In 2010, she inked an eight-year deal with Nike for $70 million and has starred in several commercials.
Upon hearing the news, Nike said it was “saddened and surprised” and is temporarily suspending its relationship with her. “We will continue to the monitor the situation,” it said in a statement. Her line of clothes are still available to purchase online.
The luxury watchmaker said it has opted not to renew a contract with Sharapova that expired on Dec. 31, 2015, ending a 12-year-relationship.
“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,” the brand said in a statement.
Similar to Nike’s deal, Sharapova starred in commercials and was featured on its website. That page has been scrubbed, displaying a message reading “This content is not available.”
The Volkswagen-owned company signed Sharapova in 2013 to becomes its first female ambassador. With the contract in its last year, Porsche said it has decided to “suspend planned activities” and might reinstate her if more details emerge.
“Maria Sharapova is an exceptional athlete. She combines top performance in her sports with elegance and power. These are precisely the qualities that are embroiled in our sports cars,” the brand said in 2013 announcing the deal, which involved commercials and chauffeuring her to tennis events in its cars.
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