The International Tennis Federation suspended tennis star Maria Sharapova for two years commencing on January 26, 2016, and ending January 25, 2018, at midnight. Sharapova, who took home top honors at Wimbledon at the age of 17, admitted to using the banned substance meldonium, brand name Mildronate, though she claims it was unintentional.
“The ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional,” Sharapova said in a statement according to her official Facebook page. “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 amount 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.”
Sharapova admitted to using Mildronate for a decade due to medical reasons. The drug was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1st because of its performance-enhancing properties.
“I know that with this I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way, she said during a press conference in March. I really hope that I will be given another chance to play.”
Sharapova is currently in the process of appealing the decision.