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Maria Sharapova handed two-year ban from tennis for failed drugs test

The five-time Grand Slam champion tested positive for meldonium earlier this year, but she is appealing her ‘unfairly harsh’ suspension.

Sharapova revealed she failed the drugs test in March.
Sharapova revealed she failed the drugs test in March.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

FORMER WORLD NUMBER one Maria Sharapova has been handed a two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for committing an anti-doping violation.

Sharapova was provisionally banned by the ITF in March after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open.

The 29-year-old will be suspended until 26 January 2018 after an independent tribunal delivered its ruling this afternoon.

The ban is backdated to 26 January 2016, rendering Sharapova ineligible to compete for the next 18 months.

Shortly after the the ITF’s announcement, Sharapova released a statement on her Facebook page, revealing she would appeal the ‘unfairly harsh’ suspension.

The Russian claims the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend her for four years, the length handed to players found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs.

“Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional,” the Russian said.

“The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance. The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation — and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position.

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
https://www.facebook.com/sharapova/posts/10153477001037680

Meldonium was added to WADA’s prohibited list at the start of the year, a move Sharapova claimed to be unaware of.

Sharapova said she’s been taking the medicine, which was prescribed by her family doctor, for the last 10 years.

“An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1 of the 2016 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (the “Programme”) has found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme and as a consequence has disqualified the affected results and imposed a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 26 January 2016,” an ITF statement read.

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Ryan Bailey

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