Maria Sharapova’s tennis ban could be overturned

Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images.

Maria Sharapova has a chance to see her suspension from tennis overturned with the World Anti-Doping Agency considering changing its position on meldonium, the banned sustance she admitted to taking for a decade.

Sharapova was suspended after she failed a drug test at the Australian Open.

Meldonium was added to the WADA’s list of banned substances in January, just before the start of the tournament.

There have now been 172 positive tests for the drug among athletes since it was added to the list, and WADA now says provisional suspensions can be lifted if it is determined that an athlete took the drug before it was placed on the list of banned substances on Jan. 1.

“In these circumstances, WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete,” WADA President Craig Reedie said, although he added it was “not an amnesty, as such”.

Sharapova has been placed on a provisional suspension pending a disciplinary hearing in June.

At a press conference to announce that she had failed the drug test, Sharapova, 28, said she had been the meldonium as prescribed by her doctor, for the past 10 years. It had been under the name mildronate, which is also used to describe the medicine.

Meldonium is typically prescribed for heart conditions as it increases blood flow. This in turn improves exercise capacity by carrying more oxygen to the muscles, and is why WADA has banned athletes from using it.

Currently, no date has been announced by the International Tennis Federation for Sharapova’s hearing.