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Maria Sharapova’s ban reduced, can compete from April 26

Sharapova will now be able to compete from April 26 next year after being banned for two years in June.

tennis Updated: Oct 04, 2016 19:00 IST
Tennis,Maria Sharapova,Doping
The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport means the Russian tennis star will be able to return to competition in April, in time for the French Open.(Reuters)

The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) has cut the length of a doping ban for Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Shamil Tarpishev, president of the Russian tennis federation, as saying on Tuesday.

Sharapova will now be able to compete from April 26 next year after being banned for two years in June.

“It’s good, they reduced the ban”, Tarpishev said. “We want her to play for the national team and win the next Olympics for us.”

The arbitration panel says she “bore some degree of fault” for the positive test “for which a sanction of 15 months is appropriate.”

The 29-year-old Russian tested positive for the banned medication meldonium during January’s Australian Open. In a severe blow to her reputation, the infringement was revealed in March and backdated to January 26.

The product had just been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list on January 1.

The CAS ruling had initially been expected in July, with Sharapova hoping to be reinstated in time to spearhead the Russian tennis team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But both Sharapova’s camp and the International Tennis Federation, which imposed the ban, needed further time in preparing their case.

Meldonium for 10 years

Sharapova openly admitted she had been taking meldonium for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.

She also claimed it had entirely escaped her attention that the product had been added to the banned substance list.

Sharapova, who has spent most of her life in the United States, was intially prescribed meldonium a year after winning Wimbledon as a 17-year-old by a Russian doctor in Moscow to boost her immune system.

She burst onto the tennis scene by stealing hearts and that title at Wimbledon in 2004 before going on to clinch the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.

Her ferocity on the court, business acumen and glamorous looks have all combined to make her a marketing juggernaut and the overseer of such successful ventures as her Sugarpova line of candy which have helped her amass a fortune estimated at $200 million.

She has 35 WTA singles titles and more than $36 million in career earnings.

But if the ban -- which Sharapova has called “unfairly harsh” -- is upheld it would almost certainly end one of sport’s most celebrated and high-profile careers.

“I let my fans down. I let my sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply,” Sharapova said in March when announcing she had failed the doping test.

“I know that with this, I face consequences and I don’t want to end my career this way -- and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.”

First Published: Oct 04, 2016 18:40 IST