London: Embattled Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has been suspended for two years for failing a drug test at this year’s Australian Open, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has confirmed.
Sharapova was handed a provisional suspension from the sport in March, after she revealed that she had tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in January 26.
Meldonium was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency this year but the 2012 Olympic silver medallist said that she had been taking the drug since 2006 legally for years for health reasons.
Reflecting on the ruling, Sharapova said that she would not accept an ‘unfairly harsh two-year’ ban and would immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The five-time Grand Slam champion observed that although the tribunal agreed that she did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, they still want her to keep away from the sport for two years,the Guardian reported.
“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 wrote on her Facebook page.
“The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not. 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,” she added.
The former world number one further said that she would stand for the truth and would fight hard to return on the tennis court as soon as possible.
With the ruling, Sharapova, who was earlier named in the Russia squad for the forthcoming Rio Games, will now have to miss the Olympics to be held from August 5.(ANI)