Time up for Sharapova after TAG Heuer stops the clock on contract

TAG Heuer has decided not to renew Maria Sharapova's sponsorship following her doping confession.

Maria Sharapova. Picture:AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer is dropping its sponsorship of Maria Sharapova, it said on Tuesday after the Russian tennis star said she had failed a drug test.

"Maria Sharapova was under contract with TAG Heuer until 31 December, 2015. We had been in talks to extend our collaboration. In view of the current situation, the Swiss watch brand has suspended negotiations and has decided not to renew the contract."

TAG Heuer drops Sharapova: "We had been in talks to extend collaboration.

In view of current situation...decided not to renew contract"

Although Sharapova said she took Meldonium for health reasons, and not as a performance enhancer, she became the most high-profile athlete to test positive for the drug used to treat ischemia, a lack of blood flow to parts of the body.

The drug is manufactured in Latvia and prescribed to treat heart disease, although it is not approved by US regulators.

Earlier, sports apparel company Nike Inc. suspended its relationship with Sharapova after the announcement.

Nike said it was suspending ties while the case is being investigated.

She was informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that she tested positive for Meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances on 1 January this year.

Sharapova said she has legally been taking the drug for the past 10 years.

"We are saddened and surprised by the news about Maria Sharapova," Nike said in a statement.

"We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues. We will continue to monitor the situation."

The 28-year-old five-time grand slam champion will be provisionally suspended starting 12 March, the ITF said.