Maria Sharapova thanks fans for support after failed drugs test

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova, the former world number one, is now ranked seventh in the world

Maria Sharapova thanked fans for their "loyalty and support" in a Facebook post after her failed drugs test.

The five-time Grand Slam winner, 28, revealed on Monday that she tested positive for meldonium in January.

"I woke up yesterday morning with an inbox full of love and compassion," wrote the Russian.external-link "Your wonderful words put a smile on my face."

Sharapova, who faces a ban of up to four years, said she was "determined to play tennis again".

"I wish I didn't have to go through this, but I do - and I will," she wrote.

"I have not been online much except the odd search for a new antique coffee table, but my friends made a collage for me with all your beautiful messages and hashtags that you created.

"I spent the afternoon reading them next to my dog, who couldn't quite understand why this was more important than the walk he was expecting to take."

More on Sharapova and meldonium
Banning meldonium 'will cause deaths on pitch'
Sharapova reckless beyond description - ex-Wada boss
Are these drugs being misused by athletes?

Meldonium was developed to treat diabetes and heart-related diseases but could have a positive effect on stamina and endurance because it can increase the flow of oxygen to muscles.

It was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) list of banned substances on 1 January 2016.

Sharapova, who says she has been taking meldonium for 10 years for health reasons, has had some sponsorship deals ended or postponed.

The International Tennis Federation said she will be provisionally suspended from 12 March.

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