A hefty two year ban has been imposed on tennis star Maria Sharapova by the International Tennis Federation after she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open in January this year.
The Russian was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open.
The five-time Grand Slam winner has said that she will undoubtedly appeal against the ban, which has been backdated to 26 January 2016.
Writing on her Facebook, the sportswoman posted, “I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension… with their decision of a two-year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional.”
“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.
“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.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency acknowledged in April that scientists were unsure about how long the drug stayed in the system, so suggested that those who tested positive before 1 March 2016 would avoid bans as long as they had stopped taking it before 1 January 2016.
Unfortunately, Sharapova admitted that she continued to take the substance past 1 January 2016 as she was unaware it had been banned. The tennis star claimed that she only knew the drug under the name of mildronate.
A two year ban certainly seems like a very harsh punishment for an unintentional crime, especially considering that the tennis star may not have many years left in her career anyway. Has justice really been served?