Sharapova drugs ban reduced from two years to 15 months on appeal

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Maria Sharapova’s two-year doping ban has been reduced to 15 months, following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The five-time Grand Slam winner, 29, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
The Russian will be able to return to the tennis court on 26 April, 2017.
“I am counting the days until I can return,” she said.

“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.”

Meldonium, a heart disease drug also known as mildronate, became a banned substance on 1 January, 2016.

Sharapova said she had been taking the drug since 2006 for health problems and had “not tried to use a performance-enhancing substance”.

She said she was unaware the drug had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list.

The former world number one said she could not “accept” the “unfairly harsh” ban when it was announced in June.

The CAS panel said it found Sharapova’s case “was not about an athlete who cheated”, adding she could be “under no circumstances… considered to be an ‘intentional doper”.

It said Sharapova was at fault for not giving her agent “adequate instructions” in checking Wada’s prohibited list and “failing to supervise and control” her agent.

The tribunal ruling said Sharapova tested positive for meldonium after her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on 26 January and in an out-of-competition test on 2 February.

CAS treated both results as a single anti-doping violation.

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