UN suspends Maria Sharapova as goodwill ambassador

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And the woes continue for former women’s world #1 Maria Sharapova.

In a report that appeared in Reuters, the Russian tennis superstar has been suspended by the United Nations Development Programme as its goodwill ambassador pending the outcome of her investigation. Sharapova has been goodwill ambassador since February 2007 for her work in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery.

“The UNDP remains grateful to Maria Sharapova for her support of our works, especially around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery,” said a spokesperson.

However, in light of her recent announcement, we last week suspended her as a Goodwill Ambassador and any planned activities while the investigation continues. We wish Ms. Sharapova the best,” the statement said.

The suspension is the latest to hit the former world number one after admitting she had tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at his year’s Australian Open. She made the announcement in a press conference last March 7. Sports apparel manufacturer Nike, watch company Tag Heuer, and German luxury car maker Porsche have also cut their ties with Sharapova.

As UN’s goodwill ambassador, the Russian tennis star earns a symbolic $1 salary. Sharapova considers such position as one of her “proudest contracts ever.” To mark her appointment for the position, Maria donated $100,000 to help young survivors in rural communities affected by one of the world’s worst nuclear accident. She also established a charitable foundation to help in the recovery efforts.

The suspension would most likely damage the appeal of an athlete who earned an estimated $29.5 million last year and is usually listed among the highest earning female athletes.

UN goodwill ambassadors are appointed on the premise that they are “persons of integrity” who “possesses the personality and dignity for such high-level representative capacity.” Her suspension as UN ambassador was stipulated in Article 28 of the UN guidelines for the designation of goodwill ambassadors and messengers of peace. It states : “If the ambassador engages in any activity incompatible with his/her status or with the purposes of the UN, or if the termination is in the best interest of the organization,” such appointment will be terminated.

Sharapova faces a ban of four years for taking meldonium, after the World Doping Agency added it to the list of banned substances. Sharapova claimed that she took the drug for medical reasons and not to enhance her performance.

Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons




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