Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Maria Sharapova receives 2 year ban from International Tennis Federation

Maria Sharapova was suspended two years by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday for doping, a ban she called “unfairly harsh” and which she plans to appeal.

The 28-year-old Sharapova announced in March she tested positive for meldonium, which she said she has been taking for 10 years to treat numerous health issues. Meldonium became a banned substance this year under the WADA code, and Sharapova claims she didn’t notice its addition to the banned list.

Sharapova immediately went on the offensive Wednesday, releasing a statement on Facebook that questioned the validity of the ITF’s suspension. She says the ITF wanted to ban her for four years, but it was reduced to two years by a three-person Tennis Anti-Doping Program tribunal because the ITF had not found evidence that Sharapova’s doping was intentional.

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova said. “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.”

However, the tribunal’s report said various elements of Sharapova’s case “inevitably lead to the conclusion” that she took the substance “for the purpose of enhancing her performance,” and revealed that her meldonium usage was concealed from everyone in her entourage except her father and agent. The tribunal called Sharapova “the sole author of her own misfortune.”

Sharapova has been blasted by numerous tour pros for giving the sport a black eye, while others have used the opportunity to call her out as one of the coldest players on the WTA Tour.

“I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters,” wrote Sharapova, who ended the letter: “Love, Maria.”

If her suspension withstands an appeal and runs through Jan. 25, 2018, the 29-year-old Russian will wind up missing this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics and a total of eight Grand Slam tournaments during what might have been prime competitive years. It certainly throws into doubt the on-court future of the former world No. 1.

“I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days,” Sharapova wrote. “I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.”

Sharapova said she tested positive at the Australian Open, where she lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals on Jan. 26.

She received the same sentence as Martina Hingis (albeit for a completely different reason). 

And I hate to say it but I agree with ITF it was her own fault. 

She could have avoided this if she had just paid attention and not tried to hide it. 

2 years is a long time, and if she's not successful in reducing the sentence it'll be interesting to see if she can come back. 

If anyone can after something like this it would be Sharapova. Whether it's actually a successful comeback will be the biggest question.

It could have been worse she could have received 4 years given it is a performance enhancing drug. 

Unlike Martina Hingis who I still think was targeted (thus the cocaine accusation).

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