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HEAD statement concerning Sharapova

Kennelbach/Austria - As a company, HEAD has a strict anti-doping policy. We believe the use of WADA banned substances with the intent to enhance performance or gain unfair advantages must be sanctioned. We have a clause in all our endorsement agreements entitling us to terminate our endorsements of athletes found guilty of doping.

In Maria’s Sharapova’s case, we have analyzed the facts and circumstances in great detail in order to reach a firm conclusion about our association with her in light of her recent announcement.

The facts as we know them today are that:

  1. Since January 1st, 2016, the WADA has banned the usage of meldonium.
  2. Maria has taken mildronate and other medications since 2006 as a result of the frequency by which she had the flu, abnormal EKG results and indicators of diabetes with a family history of diabetes. Mildronate is another name for meldonium.
  3. It is common ground within the scientific community that in order for meldonium to have any relevant performance enhancing effect it has to be taken in daily dosages in excess of 1,000 to 2,000mg.
  4. According to the attorney for Maria, her dosage was significantly less than that.
  5. We further believe that she has and still is dealing with the medical conditions she described.
  6. Prior to 2016, we believe that Maria has never throughout her career been taking any WADA banned substances or any other illegal substances.
  7. Maria announced on March 7th, 2016 that she had tested positive for the use of meldonium, but that this was a mistake by her as she had not realized that mildronat or meldonium had been added to the WADA list of banned substances.

On this basis we conclude that although it is beyond doubt that she tested positive for the use of a WADA banned substance, the circumstantial evidence is equally beyond doubt that the continued use of meldonium after Jan 1st, 2016 in the dosages she had been recommended, which were significantly short of performance enhancing levels, was a manifest error by Maria. In the absence of any evidence of any intent by Maria of enhancing her performance or trying to gain an unfair advantage through the use of mildronate, we further conclude this falls into the category of ‘honest’ mistakes.

We also know that for more than a decade, Maria Sharapova has been a role model and woman of integrity who has inspired millions of fans around the world to play and watch tennis. The honesty and courage she displayed in announcing and acknowledging her mistake was admirable. HEAD is proud to stand behind Maria, now and into the future and we intend to extend her contract.

We look forward to working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead. Maria may have made a mistake, but she has earned the benefit of the doubt and we are extending it to her. We look forward to many more years of working with Maria.

Notes: Since January 1, 2011, Sharapova has been under an exclusive contract with HEAD for racquets, strings and grips.

 

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