Maria Sharapova receives two year tennis ban for failing drugs test

 
Joe Hall
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2016 Australian Open - Day 9
Sharapova can return to tennis in 2018 (Source: Getty)

Maria Sharapova says she will fight a two year ban from tennis handed to her by the sport's authorities for violating anti-doping rules

The five-time grand slam winner will not be able to play again until January 2018 by which time she will be nearly 31-years-old, following the ban imposed by an independent tribunal in London.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, a substance added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list at the beginning of the year, after her Australian Open quarter-final defeat to Serena Williams in January.

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Yet the Russian has described the ban as "unfairly harsh" and insisted she will appeal ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension," Sharapova said in a statment.

"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 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."

Her expulsion from the sport has been backdated to January on account of her "prompt admission" of violating anti-doping rules to the ITF.

However, the tribunal declared that she was "the sole author of her own misfortune" for failing to check whether the Mildronate pharmaceutical, which contains, breached the rules.

Sharapova's arguments that she took the substance for health reasons where also dismissed, with the tribunal finding that there was "no diagnosis and no therapeutical advice supporting the continuing use of Mildronate...The manner of its use, on match days and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels".

After publicly acknowledging her failed drugs test March, Sharapova was promptly dropped from lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and Tag Heuer, although tennis racket manufacturer Head extended their sponsorship of the Russian star.

Sharapova's results at the Australian Open and declared invalid and she will be stripped of the 430 WTA ranking points and $281,663 earned at the event.

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