Johannesburg: Embattled Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova will once again resume her role as a United Nations (UN) goodwill ambassador when her doping suspension ends in April, the body has confirmed.
The UN Development Programme, which works to eradicate poverty and inequality, had suspended Sharapova as their goodwill ambassador after the Russian tennis star was tested positive for banned substance, meldonium, at this year’s Australian Open in January.
“The UNDP is glad to learn that Maria Sharapova can return to the sport she loves sooner than expected and we will lift the suspension of her role as our goodwill ambassador once the reduced ban expires,” the UN was quoted as saying by Sport24.
Sharapova was originally banished from the sport for two years, a suspension which was later slashed down to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CSA) in the wake of the former’s appeal against an “unfairly harsh suspension”.
Meldonium was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency this year. The five-time Grand Slam champion, however, said that she had been taking the drug since 2006 legally for years due to health concerns.
Sharapova’s suspension is backdated to 26 January 2016, the day she failed the drug test after losing to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. With the latest ruling, the Russian will be eligible to play again on April 26 next year.