Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports over the two-year ban handed to her by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for committing an anti-doping violation. Sharapova has urged the CAS to 'eliminate' or 'reduce' her ban.
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. However, Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has now confirmed that Sharapova has filed an appeal to reduce the ban.
"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," CAS said in a statement, adding that a decision would be made by July 18 at the latest.
"Ms. Sharapova submits that the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced," The CAS said in a statement, reported AFP.
If this appeal is unsuccessful, then Sharapova will miss the upcoming Rio Olympics and the next Grand Slam. In that scenario, the earliest Grand Slam she could participate will be the 2018 French Open. Sharapova will be 31years old at that time, and is unlikely to remain at the peak of her powers.
Sharapova had claimed that she was not aware of the fact that the ITF had banned meldonium, a heart disease drug she has been taking since her health issues in 2006, in January 2016. She insisted that she knew the drug by the name of mildronate, and not meldonium.
Her lawyer has said that she has received an “unfairly harsh suspension because she is such a famous athlete and they wanted to make an example out of her”.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said that it would "review the decision (of the CAS), including its reasoning" before deciding whether to appeal, reported the BBC.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray has come out and said that Sharapova does not have any valid excuse for failing the Test. The British tennis star told the Guardian, “I don’t really see that as being a valid excuse. If you’re taking any medication, it’s your responsibility as the athlete to check and make sure what you’re taking is legal. There can be the odd case where, if you were given something by a doctor, he tells you, “Oh, this is, I don’t know, a vitamin’, and it’s not, then that’s different. But if you’re taking medication, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t know whether it’s on the banned list or not”.
Also read why a fan thinks that Sharapova deserves a life-time ban instead of this two-year sabbatical.
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