Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova banned for two years

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Russian star Maria Sharapova was banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Wednesday after a failed drugs test.

The 29-year-old was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for banned substance Meldonium at Australian Open in January. Meldonium was banned on January 1 this year. She said she has been taking since 2006 for health issues. The five-time Grand Slam winner said she will appeals against the decision.

“Sharapova, a 29-year-old player from Russia, provided a urine sample on January 26 2016, after her quarter-final match at the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.”

“An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1 of the 2016 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the programme and as a consequence has disqualified the affected results and imposed a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 26 January 2016,” ITF said in a statement.

Sharapova has been included in Russia’s Olympic squad. It wasn’t clear what her fate would be regarding her participation in the quadrennial mega event. “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,” Sharapova said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“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.”

“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,” she added. – IANS

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