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Nike suspends relationship with Sharapova after doping revelations

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Sharapova said she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open earlier this year

Sportswear and footwear giant Nike said it was "suspending" its relationship with Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova after she revealed that she failed a doping test.

Nike said it was "saddened and surprised" by the revelations made by Sharapova at a press conference on Monday in Los Angeles.

"We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues," Nike said in a statement.

Sharapova said she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open earlier this year.

The 28-year-old Sharapova - winner of five Grand Slam titles, 35 singles titles and currently ranked 7th in the world - said she started taking the substance in 2006 to help her with a variety of health problems.

The drug - said to increase physical and mental performance - was added to a list of banned substances on Jan. 1 and Sharapova said she was unaware of the change in status, adding that she took full responsibility for the oversight.

"I don't want to end my career this way," Sharapova said. "I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game."

The Russian, who is the highest-paid female athlete in the world, has not played since she lost her quarterfinals match at the Australian Open.

Off the court, she has been highly successful in modeling, fashion design and marketing.

The International Tennis Federation said Monday that Sharapova would be temporarily suspended from the sport starting March 12.