Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, who is currently suspended for two years on account of committing an anti-doping violations, has been handed a reprieve by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The relief means that the 29-year-old could be back on court for the 2017 French Open.
Sharapova had tested positive for
The two-time Wimbledon winner had filed an appeal with CAS for “the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced,” and the administrative body looks to have agreed on the latter.
In a statement issued today, CAS announced that the ban had been reduced from 24 months to 15. However, the Court has refused to restore the prize money and results of her 2016 Australian Open campaign when she had played while taking the banned substance. Sharapova had reached the quarterfinal of the Open.
The released statement read, “An appeal panel appointed under the Code of Sports-related Arbitration of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) has reduced the sanction imposed on Maria Sharapova by an Independent Tribunal on 8 June 2016 from 24 months to 15 months. The results and prize money that Ms. Sharapova earned at the 2016 Australian Open remain disqualified. Her period of ineligibility will now end at midnight on 25 April 2017.”
The CAS’s reasoning behind the reduction of the ban was that the tennis star “bore significant fault” for usage of the drug but took into account her plea that she was not aware that the drug had been banned early on in the year. Sharapova had asked for a complete annulment of the ban, but CAS did not see that as a fitting result.
“An Independent Tribunal appointed under Article 8.1.1 of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme found that Ms. Sharapova bore significant fault for her violation, because (among other things) she had failed to put in place an adequate system to check for changes made each year to the Prohibited List. It, therefore, imposed on Ms. Sharapova a period of ineligibility of two years, backdated to commence on 26 January 2016.”
“Ms. Sharapova appealed that decision to CAS on the basis that she bore No Significant Fault or Negligence for her anti-doping rule violation and therefore her ban should be reduced from two years to "time served" (i.e., she should be free to start competing again from the date of the CAS panel's decision),” the statement further added.
The CAS also explained why the ban was not completely nullified stating that the player and her agent had been careless in keeping an eye out for changes made in the doping lists every year.
“Taking all of these circumstances into account, the CAS panel determined that, although Ms. Sharapova was at fault, her plea of No Significant Fault or Negligence should be upheld, triggering a discretion to reduce the otherwise applicable two-year sanction by up to 50 percent. Based on its analysis of Ms. Sharapova's degree of fault, the CAS panel decided that the sanction should be reduced in this case to 15 months,” concluded the statement.
Sharapova expressed her delight with the judgement in a Facebook post released for her fans stating, “In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court.”