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Sponsors step back from Maria Sharapova after she admits to using a banned substance

Tennis star Maria Sharapova said Monday she expects to face consequences for using a banned substance.

But she might be surprised just how little time it took for those consequences to begin.

At least three major sponsors -- Nike, Porsche and Tag Heuer -- have taken steps to distance themselves from the Russian tennis star, who tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

Sharapova said she's been taking the drug for years and did not realize it had recently been banned.

Nike said in a statement: “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.”

Tag Heuer said it will not renew Sharapova's contract “in view of the current situation.”

Porsche stated that it will "postpone planned activities” with Sharapova “until further details are released and we can analyze the situation.”

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Sharapova had been known as one of the most marketable female athletes in the world. “She's a one-woman marketing machine,” said Nigel Currie, an independent British-based sponsorship consultant. “There are lots of male stars in the world, but not many female stars.” 

Currie added that it's “amazing” how fast those businesses reacted after Sharapova's announcement.


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