As well as her reputation, Maria Sharapova watched an awful lot of money disappear on Tuesday.
As she revealed to the world she had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug at this year’s Australian Open, the bean counters and PR gurus at some of the world’s richest companies were exploring their options.
In carnage not seen since the mass exodus of Lance Armstrong’s sponsors following the release of that 2012 USADA report into his doping regime, big firms dropped Sharapova like a bad habit.
First to walk away was Nike, with whom the Russian star signed an eight-year deal, worth $US70 million, in 2010.
Losing the final two years of that contract could cost the 28-year-old almost $17 million.
Porsche, with whom Sharapova became a brand ambassador in 2013, also suspended activity with the star.
Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer is another long-time backer to step away.
Their deal with Sharapova, which dates back to 2004, lapsed in December and the company said they “suspended negotiations” on a renewal after the news.
Sharapova’s contracts with Porsche and TAG were reportedly worth $2.8 million each.
According to Forbes, Sharapova’s earnings in 2015 were $29.7 million, but only $6.7 million of that amount was from on-court winnings.
The rest – a whopping $23 million – came via endorsements.
Among the other firms the Russian is contracted to are Evian, Head, Avon and American Express.
So what does this mean for Sharapova’s career and her earning power in 2016?
The New Daily is waiting for a response from the Australian Open on whether she will have to pay back the $A750,000 she earned for making the semi-finals this year.
Professor Bob Stewart of Victoria University, who has been teaching and researching in the field of sports management for 20 years, said Sharapova’s short-term earning power has been decimated.
“She’s contravened the WADA rules and she can be suspended for up to four years, but it’s more likely she’ll get a two-year suspension,” Professor Stewart told The New Daily.
“Certainly her income stream is going to be severely diminished. She has lost some of her credibility – her brand value has certainly declined.
“But she still has a lot of residual goodwill. She’s still got a charismatic quality that remains, she performed well at the press conference (to announce the positive test).
“If you look at Tiger Woods, or other sportspeople who’ve gone through a scandal, they can recover and I think in her case she will recover, but maybe not to the same extent.”
Should all sponsors decide to cut ties, and she be hit with a lengthy suspension, it could be a lean winter indeed for the former world No.1.
Not that she should be crying poor – with career earnings of $285 million ($37 million in winnings, the rest from endorsements) she should be able to afford to pay for her own racquets and shoes for a while yet.
Repeated warnings on Meldonium
Despite claiming ignorance over the positive test, Sharapova is reported to have been warned five times that Meldonium would be place on the WADA banned substances list in the month leading up to the change.
According to The Australian, the ITF warned players three times throughout December about updates to the WADA code, while the WTA also notified players on December 11 and 29.
Sharapova said she used the substance, which boosts oxygen uptake and endurance, for 10 years before it was placed on the banned list in January.