After being provisionally banned from tennis after failing a drug test for the heart drug meldronium at the Australian open, Maria Sharapova recently dove into other business investments, serving up premium chocolate to both sides of the Atlantic.
According to WMDT, the bars have been released for sale at a number of retailers in Europe and are set to be released for sale in the United States by the end of May.
Additionally, Sharapova plans to open a pop-up chocolate store for her candy business, Sugarpova, founded in 2012. The shop will be located at Wimbledon Village, not far from where the Russian former tennis star won her first major title in 2004.
“She’s been an active participant in creating this product and has been intimately involved with the launch,” said Christopher Mattina, managing director of Baron Chocolatier, which is based in Vernon Hills, IL, and produces the premium line.
And while Sugarpova might seem like the perfect backhand solution while Sharapova waits to hear how long her ban from tennis will be, the move is being met with a fair deal of criticism and controversy.
While Mattina of Baron Chocolatier stood by Sharapova, calling her someone of “high integrity” who made an honest mistake, her adventures into the sweet world of chocolate are facing scrutiny amid growing concern over rising obesity levels.
Tam Fry, a member of the National Obesity Forum in the U.K., feels that well-known athletes shouldn’t be promoting food that can be bad for children.
“Children are consuming three times more sugar than is recommended, and adults twice as much,” said Fry, who is also honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation.
Indeed, child obesity is a large concern in the United States. In Maryland, the current rate of childhood obesity for children under the age of 17 is 15.1%. Additionally, empty calories from added sugars and solid fats comprise up to 40% of daily caloric intake for kids between the ages of 12 and 18.
While treats can certainly be enjoyed in moderation, critics are concerned that an athlete promoting a high-sugar item such as chocolate can only promote and lead to overconsumption.
“I have nothing against a treat, but the problem is that treats are now becoming a daily occurrence,” said Fry.