Former world no. 1 Maria Sharapova has been banned from tennis for two years, the ITF announced on Wednesday. She will be next available to play in January, 2018.
Sharapova admitted in March that she had tested positive for meldonium ahead of the Australian Open. The 29-year-old said she had continued to take meldonium, even after receiving multiple emails warning that it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances for 2016, because she knew it by the name mildronate.
Along with the suspension, Sharapova will be docked the $375,000 and ranking points she earned for reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.
After the International Tennis Federation provisionally suspended her on March 12, the five-time Grand Slam winner said she was “determined to play tennis again.”
In May, the head of the Russian tennis federation hinted at a serious punishment coming for Sharapova, telling the Russian media it was “highly doubtful” Sharapova would play future tournaments. This came just one month after he had said he felt confident Sharapova would represent Russia in August at the Rio Olympics.
Sharapova has stayed relatively quiet since the news of her failed drug test. During the French Open, she was seen on several occasions wearing a Zara t-shirt shirt that read “Back in 5 minutes.”
My first credential in a while and Zara tshirts got jokes ???????? pic.twitter.com/U7hXX6QPul
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) May 24, 2016
While the suspension is less severe than the maximum five-year punishment some expected, a two-year ban from the sport could still very possibly mark the end of Sharapova’s career, considering both her age and recent injuries. This year, Forbes reported that Sharapova was the second-highest paid female athlete, behind Serena Williams.
Sharapova is expected to appeal.
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