Roger Federer endorses ban on Maria Sharapova

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Roger Federer endorses ban on Maria Sharapova

Taking a strong stand against the drug menace that threatens to blot tennis, Roger Federer yesterday came out in support of the two-year ban on Maria Sharapova. Federer said there should be "zero tolerance" against doping, intentional or not, and placed the onus on ensuring it on the athletes.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Wednesday had suspended Maria Sharapova for two years for committing an anti-doping violation. The 29-year-old Russian had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open, back in January, and was provisionally suspended by the ITF in early March.

Although the five-time Grand slam winner has vehemently denied foul play and has insisted that she inadvertently took the medicine without knowing that it had been banned, the verdict was not any lighter virtually putting an end to the career of the 29-year-old.

"I only heard the headlines, I didn't quite get into all the details but to me it's about zero tolerance," said Federer after his win over Taylor Fritz at the Stuttgart Open.

"It doesn't matter if they did it on purpose or not -- I don't really see the difference. You need to know what goes into your body, you have to be 100% sure of what's going on, if you're not, you're going [sic] to be damned.

"Of course, she's got the right to fight the case, like everybody else as well. I'm just for zero tolerance.

"I stay by my word that we should be saving blood samples for 10, 15, 20 years to come, so you have to scare away the people who think they could cheat.

"You have to scare them so they will not do it, so they could retroactively also be banned, and take away titles and so forth," said Federer, reported AFP.

(Also read - Why Sharapova deserves a life-time ban instead of this two-year sabbatical)

Sharapova has, however, resolved to fight the issue till the end.

"I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension," the five-time Grand Slam winner wrote on Facebook.

"With their decision of a two-year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional.

"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.

"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," Sharapova added.

It appears she will appeal against the two-year ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The star also has received support from her sponsors Nike, Head, and Evian who stand by her with Head stating that the WADA's ruling was "based upon a flawed process".

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