Nike stands by Maria Sharapova in spite of drug restriction

HEAD CEO: Maria Sharapova made an ‘honest mistake’
Nike is standing by tennis star Maria Sharapova, after she was suspended for two years for utilizing a prohibited drug. The sportswear giant, which had actually formerly put its relationship with the athlete on hold, highlighted that an investigation by the International Tennis Federation found that she “did not purposefully break its guidelines.” “Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her error and is now appealing the length of the restriction,” Nike (NKE) said in a statement. “Based on the decision of the ITF and their accurate findings, we wish to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her.” Sharapova got a two-year suspension on Wednesday from the ITF after testing favorable for meldonium, a drug that was just recently banned by the company. Although the ITF said she didn’t actively break the rules, it discovered she was at “very substantial fault” for cannot remain abreast of modifications to the banned compounds list. Related: Maria Sharapova prohibited for 2 years over meldonium drug use Nike and automaker Porsche suspended their sponsorship handle Sharapova in March after she first revealed that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open. Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer likewise halted negotiations over restoring an offer. However another of her sponsors, sports devices company HEAD, stuck with her, saying it believes she made an “honest mistake.” Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, an active ingredient in a medication she had been taking for the last years. The chemical was contributed to the ITF’s prohibited compounds list in January, and Sharapova has preserved that she had not been familiar with the modification. Nike’s deal with Sharapova has been reported to be worth $70 milion over 8 years. The world’s top endorser of professional athletes, Nike has more than $6 billion in endorsement deals on its books. The brand name has courted controversy in the past for dealing with scandal-hit athletes. Last year, it signed a handle American track star Justin Gatlin, whose four-year restriction for utilizing an efficiency enhancing drug ended in 2010. It was his 2nd suspension. A Nike spokesman at the time told USA Today that Gatlin had actually served his charges.– With reporting by Chris Isidore

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