PARIS (AP) – Maria Sharapova was suspended Wednesday for two years for failing a drug test, labeled “the sole author of her own misfortune” because she hid regular pre-match use of a newly banned substance from anti-doping authorities and members of her own entourage.
The tennis star said she would appeal what she called “an unfairly harsh” punishment to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The ban, handed down by a three-person Tennis Anti-Doping Program tribunal appointed by the International Tennis Federation, is backdated to Jan. 26, when Sharapova last played. She tested positive for meldonium that day after losing to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals. The panel said various elements of Sharapova’s case “inevitably lead to the conclusion” that she took the substance “for the purpose of enhancing her performance.”
Sharapova, who faced up to a four-year suspension, loses all ranking points and prize money she earned in Melbourne.
More significantly, if her suspension withstands an appeal and runs through Jan. 25, 2018, the 29-year-old Russian will wind up missing this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics and a total of eight Grand Slam tournaments during what might have been prime competitive years.