Sharapova banned for two years by ITF

Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years following an anti-doping hearing - but plans to appeal.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium, contained in Mildronate which Sharapova said she was taking for many years to treat a deficiency in magnesium and signs of diabetes, at both January's Australian Open and out of competition in Moscow in February.

An independent tribunal, which heard the case last month, found the five-time Grand Slam champion guilty of committing a doping offence.

It ruled on Wednesday that while the offence was "not intentional", the player bore "very significant fault" for the positive test and suggested Sharapova should have informed the authorities that she had been taking the drug.

In its conclusion, the tribunal noted: "If she had not concealed her use of Mildronate from the anti-doping authorities, members of her own support team and the doctors whom she consulted, but had sought advice, then the contravention would have been avoided. She is the sole author of her own misfortune."

The ban has been backdated to January 26, the date of the test. She has also been stripped of her prize money of Aus$281,633 (around £144,000) and ranking points collected during her run to the last eight in Melbourne.


However, within minutes of the verdict being made public, Sharapova announced her intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The former world number one wrote on Facebook: "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.

"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."

Sharapova, who famously won Wimbledon at the age of just 17 in 2004, added: "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."

WADA made the decision to ban meldonium after finding it had performance-enhancing qualities.

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