Maria Sharapova has been banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for a banned substance. Unsurprisingly, Sharapova is not thrilled.
A tribunal assembled by the ITF handed down the ruling. Sharapova failed a drug test during the 2016 Australian Open with a positive test for the substance meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list as of January 1, 2016. Sharapova claims she was unaware that the drug was banned. Via ESPN:
Sharapova said in March she had started using the drug — which boosts blood and oxygen flow — under a doctor’s guidance a decade ago because of irregular electrocardiogram results and a family history of heart issues and diabetes.
The governing body argued that Sharapova’s records with the doctor ended in 2013, yet she continued to take the drug.
Initially, the ITF tribunal wanted to suspend her for four years but were unable to prove that she had intentionally taken the banned drugs.
In a Facebook post, Sharapova stresses that the ITF found that her drug use was unintentional and that she will appeal the suspension
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.
If the two year suspension holds, Sharapova will be banned from playing tennis until the 2018 Australian Open.
Image via Getty.