Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been handed a two-year ban for doping by the ITF Tribunal.
Sharapova was charged for her use of the prescription medicine Meldonium, which was put on the prohibited list by WADA on January 1. She provided a urine sample after her quarter-final match with Serena Williams at this year’s Australian Open and on March 2, the 29-year-old’s sample came back positive from the WADA testing centre in Montreal.
The ITF said in a media release that this is an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme.
Sharapova had been using Melodonium for the past 10 years due to a family history of diabetes and a magnesium deficiency, but said she will fight the decision. She took to her personal Facebook page to make comment on the decision.
“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,” she wrote.
“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.
“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.”
The five-time grand slam champion concluded by saying she has missed playing tennis and has missed her loyal fans.
“I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. 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.” – Jesse Mullens
Screengrab from TheMaless’s YouTube.