Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation for using a Prohibited Drug. –The Russian was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open. The heart disease drug, which 29-year-old Sharapova says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.
The five-time Grand Slam winner said she “cannot accept” the “unfairly harsh” ban – and will appeal. Sharapova will challenge the suspension, which is backdated to 26 January 2016, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
In a statement, she said the tribunal concluded her offence was “unintentional” and that she had not tried to use a “performance-enhancing substance”. But she claimed the ITF had asked the tribunal to impose a four-year ban, adding it “spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules”.
On 2 March 2016, Ms. Sharapova was charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. She promptly admitted that she had committed the Anti-Doping Rule Violation charged, and asked for a hearing before an Independent Tribunal in accordance with Article 8 of the Programme to determine the consequences to be imposed on her for that violation.
At a two-day hearing on 18-19 May 2016, the Independent Tribunal received evidence and heard legal arguments from both parties, and subsequently issued a reasoned decision on 8 June, which is available below. The Independent Tribunal determined that Ms. Sharapova should serve a period of ineligibility of two years; due to her prompt admission of her violation, that period of ineligibility should be back-dated under to commence from 26 January 2016 and so should end at midnight on 25 January 2018; and her results at the 2016 Australian Open should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that she won.
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