Maria Sharapova was warned at least five times by tennis authorities that the drug meldonium was being added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of banned substances on Jan. 1, according to the UK Times.
Sharapova, 28, claims that she did not stop taking the drug, which she says she has been taking for nearly a decade for various health reasons, after failing to open an email listing the drugs added to the banned list for 2016. However, professional female tennis players were reportedly warned five times in 2015, three times by the International Tennis Federation and twice by the Women’s Tennis Association, that meldonium would appear on that list.
According to the Daily Mail, the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) sent an email to its athletes and coaches Wednesday stating that it had previously warned meldonium was becoming a banned drug.
“The ARAF has on multiple occasions warned sports people, coaches, and support staff that, since Jan. 1 this year meldonium is included in the list of the banned substances,” the statement said.
WADA itself also issued a notice of which drugs would be banned in September.
Sharapova admitted to using the substance after failing a drug test at the Australian Open. She could face a ban of up to four years if it is ruled that she took the drug to gain an athletic advantage.