Sharapova banned for two years by ITF

Wed Jun 8, 2016 5:44pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The career of Russian former world number one Maria Sharapova was in tatters on Wednesday after she was given a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following her positive test for the banned drug meldonium.

In a statement the ITF said the five-times grand slam champion's ban would be backdated to Jan. 26 this year, meaning her results and prize money from the Australian Open, where she reached the quarter-finals, would be canceled out.

Sharapova, 29, said she would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), describing the punishment as "unfairly harsh".

She said an independent tribunal in London on May 18-19 had found that she had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules.

A 33-page report of the tribunal's findings said: "The ITF accepts that the player did not engage in conduct that she knew constituted an antidoping rule violation," but it rejected her assertion that there was no "significant" fault on her part.

"She was the sole author of her own misfortune," it said.

On its website, the ITF said the ban, which could have been as long as four years, had been backdated due to Sharapova's "prompt admission" of taking the substance, and would end on midnight of Jan. 25, 2018.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) later issued a short statement saying it would review the decision before deciding whether to use its independent right of appeal to CAS.   Continued...

Maria Sharapova of Russia speaks during a news conference at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia on January 1, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo