Maria Sharapova appeals to Court of Arbitration for Sport over doping ban

Banned player Maria Sharapova
Banned player Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova has appealed against the two-year ban handed to her for failing a drugs test.

Sharapova is suspended by the International Tennis Federation until January 26, 2018 after she tested positive for meldonium at this year’s Australian Open.

The Russian claims she was unaware the substance had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list at the start of 2016 and has now submitted an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A decision will be reached by July 18.

A CAS statement read: “In her appeal to the CAS, Ms Sharapova seeks the annulment of the Tribunal’s decision to sanction her with a two-year period of ineligibility further to an anti-doping rule violation. Ms Sharapova submits that the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced.”

Sharapova, who has won five grand slam titles, will be almost 31 when her suspension ends. She stands to miss the Olympic Games this summer, as well as the next seven major tournaments.

Sharapova claimed in March she was prescribed meldonium in 2006 for “several health issues” and was unaware it had been added to the prohibited list.

An Independent Tribunal concluded, however, that while Sharapova had not deliberately broken anti-doping rules, for which she would have received a four-year ban, she had taken the substance to enhance her performance and failed to make necessary checks regarding its legality.

Sharapova described the two-year suspension as “unfairly harsh” and said she would lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which she has now done.

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules,

“ I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova wrote on Facebook at the time her suspension was imposed.

“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.

“I believe I am innocent of the charges.”