Russian star Maria Sharapova was banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after a failed drugs test. The 29-year-old was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for banned substance Meldonium at Australian Open in January.
Meldonium was banned on January 1 this year. She said she has been taking since 2006 for health issues. The five-time Grand Slam winner said she will appeal against the decision which she termed as rather harsh.
“An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1 of the 2016 Tennis Anti-Doping 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,” ITF said in a statement.
“Sharapova, a 29-year-old player from Russia, provided a urine sample on January 26 2016, after her quarter-final match at the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.”
Sharapova has been included in Russia’s Olympic squad. It wasn’t immendiately clear what her fate would be regarding her participation in the quadrennial mega event.
“Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my doctor for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance,” Sharapova said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“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,” she added.