Maria Sharapova set to return in April 2017
A delighted Sharapova has hailed the reduction of her two-year doping ban as 'one of my happiest days'
In major decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has reduced former world number one tennis player and Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova's two-year doping ban by nine months. It thus paves the way for the return of one of the most popular players back to the court.
An arbitration panel "found that Ms Sharapova committed an anti-doping rule violation and that while it was with 'no significant fault', she bore some degree of fault, for which a sanction of fifteen months is appropriate," Switzerland-based CAS said in a statement. The ban took effect from Jan. 26, 2016. A delighted Sharapova has hailed the reduction of her two-year doping ban as 'one of my happiest days'.
"I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April (2017)," Sharapova said.
Five-time rand slam winner Sharapova was banned by the International Tennis Federation in June following a positive test for the banned drug meldonium during January's Australian Open.
Sharapova , is one of the biggest names in tennis and most sought after players by advertisers who want to her to endorse their products due to her stunning good looks. And expectedly, the sponsors have heaved a huge sigh of relief as she is set to return on April 2017.
"We are pleased that Maria will be back playing the sport she loves in April and look forward to partnering with her and enjoying her continued success on and off the court," Nike said in a statement published by ESPN.
Mineral water brand Evian and racket maker Head, long-time backers, also released statements hailing the reduction. Head chairman and CEO Johan Eliasch, a robust supporter of Sharapova throughout the scandal, said "justice" had been served.
"We are very proud to have stood by Maria for the right reasons throughout these difficult and testing times," he said in a statement posted on the company's social media accounts.