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UNDP suspends Maria Sharapova as goodwill ambassador

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency`s banned list on January 1.

UNDP suspends Maria Sharapova as goodwill ambassador

New Delhi: The United Nations Development Programme has suspended Russian tennis Maria Sharapova as a goodwill ambassador after she failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open.

This comes as a fresh blow to the Russian tennis star, who earlier saw several world leading sponsors halting ties.

Sharapova had been a goodwill ambassador for the UN Development Programme for the past nine years. She had been active in helping recovery efforts after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

A spokesperson of the UNDP said that they are grateful for Sharapova's support of work. But last week the body decided to suspend her role while the investigation continues.

"The United Nations Development Programme remains grateful to Maria Sharapova for her support of our work, especially around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery. However, in light of Ms. Sharapova`s recent announcement, we last week suspended her role as a Goodwill Ambassador and any planned activities while the investigation continues."

"We wish Ms. Sharapova the best," the spokesperson added.

Former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova announced last week that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency`s banned list on January 1.

Several leading brands such as US sportswear giant Nike, German luxury car maker Porsche and Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer have all halted their relationship with the former world number one.

Sharapova has made visits to Belarus as goodwill ambassador and donated $100,000 to support youth projects in rural areas that suffer from the after-affects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Earlier, Sharapova`s family had fled the city of Gomel in Belarus in 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster, moving to Siberia where the tennis star was born.

The family lived in Nyagan, Siberia for two years and then moved to Sochi on the Black Sea where Sharapova took her first tennis lessons.

(With Agency inputs)

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