There was swift sponsor reaction to tennis star Maria Sharapova failing a drug test.
Her principle sponsor – Nike – suspended, though did not for the moment sever, their relationship saying it “continues to monitor the situation”.
Her eight-year contract with Nike, the world’s largest sportswear maker, was signed in 2010 and was worth over 60 million euros.
Luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer said it had halted talks to renew a sponsorship deal that started in 2004 and expired at the end of last year.
“In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negotiations and has decided not to renew the contract,” TAG Heuer, a unit of French luxury goods group LVMH, said in a statement.
Porsche suspended promotional work with Sharapova, who had been named as their first female brand ambassador in a three-year deal from 2014.
“We regret the current news about Maria Sharapova. Until further details emerge and we are able to analyse the situation, we have decided to suspend planned activities,” Porsche said.
Evian water’s owner Danone , a long-time sponsor of Sharapova, said it was “surprised” by the tennis star failing a drug test and would monitor developments.
“Evian has been a partner of Maria Sharapova for many years, and until now, we have maintained a trustworthy professional relationship,” the company said in a statement.
“Evian attaches great importance to health, to integrity, and transparency, and we will follow closely the development of the investigation.”
This comes as sponsors are taking a much tougher line on doping scandals, with zero tolerance to protect their images.
It will cost Sharapova dear as her off-court career earnings have reportedly been more than 180 million euros, indeed she makes the majority of her money from sponsorship deals rather playing tennis.
She was the world’s highest-paid female athlete last year for the 11th consecutive year. According to Forbes magazine she earned 27 million euros.
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