As was reported back in, tennis star Maria Sharapova was busred for testing positive for the banned substance meldonium. Today, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced it had levied a two-year suspension on Sharapova.
The ruling came following a hearing of the matter on May 18 and 19. Shortly after the announcement was made, Sharapova posted this on her Facebook page:
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. 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.
While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.
P.S. My lawyer prepared a short summary of how the ITF process works so I thought I would pass it along to my fans so you too can be aware of what the ITF rules call for
Her attorney, John Haggerty, alleges the ITF wanted to make an example of Sharapova.
The tribunal’s 33-page ruling not only was Sharapova not an innocent party in this affair, but it conclusion stated, “She is the sole author of her misfortune.”
Sharapova promised to “fight” to get back on the court soon. The suspension is retroactive to January, meaning if the punishment is upheld, she will be eligible to come back in January 2018.