Drug ban appeal postponement ends Maria Sharapova's last hope of competing at Rio Olympics

 
Frank Dalleres
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Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in January at the Australian Open (Source: Getty)

Former world No1 Maria Sharapova has admitted defeat in her bid to compete at the Rio Olympics next month after her appeal against a doping ban was delayed.

Sharapova had hoped the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would overturn the two-year suspension she received last month from the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

That decision came after the Russian tested positive for meldonium, a substance added to the banned list at the start of the year, at the Australian Open in January.

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CAS said a decision on her appeal, which had been due next week, had been postponed to allow Sharapova and the ITF additional time to “complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions”.

It added that Sharapova, who won silver at London 2012, and the ITF had agreed to the deferment and that a decision was now due by 19 September. The Olympics start on 5 August.

The five-time grand slam winner will also miss the US Open, which runs from late August to early September.

Some of Sharapova's sponsors have been criticised for standing by her despite the doping row.

Meldonium’s banning by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has caused controversy as there remains debate over how long the substance takes to leave the body.

That has allowed some sportspeople to declare that they stopped taking it in 2015 only to test positive months later. Sharapova cannot use that argument since she has admitted continuing to use it in 2016.

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