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Tennis Star Maria Sharapova Suspended for Failing Drug Test

In March, Maria admitted that she tested positive for 'Meldonium', a drug that was banned only earlier this year, in 2016

  • Maria Sharapova failed the Drug Test and will be banned from playing Tennis for two years
  • The drug ‘Mildonium’ was abused, the tribunal report said
  • Maria asserted that the drug abuse was unintentional, and she will appeal the CAS for support

Russian Tennis Star Maria Sharapova has been suspended for a period of two years by an independent tribunal for failing the drug test, says the International Tennis Federation.

This unfortunate development will mean that she will have to forfeit her title as the Quarter Finalist in the Australian Open this year, along with the prize money.

The ITF tribunal stated that Sharapova’s 2 year ban on playing the sport will be backdated to January 2016, thanks to her “prompt admission”. She had admitted in March that she tested positive for ‘Meldonium’, a drug that was banned only earlier this year.

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Sharapova at the Western & Southern Open, August 2011. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Sharapova at the Western & Southern Open, August 2011. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

However, she also asserts that she was doing so unintentionally. In a press conference in a downtown Los Angeles Hotel, she said:

“I did fail the test, and I take full responsibility for it. … It’s very important for you to understand that for 10 years, this medicine was not on WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency]’s banned list and I had been legally taking the medicine for the past 10 years. But on Jan. 1, the rules had changed and meldonium became a prohibited substance, which I did not know. … I was given this medicine by my doctor for several health issues I was having in 2006.”

The tribunal did understand that Sharapova’s breach “was unintentional” because she “did not appreciate that Mildronate contained a substance prohibited from 1 January 2016.” Meldonium is the active ingredient in Mildronate. However, the decision read:

“[S]he does bear sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault, in failing to take any steps to check whether the continued use of this medicine was permissible. If she had not had not concealed her use of Mildronate from the anti-doping authorities, members of her own support team and the doctors whom she consulted, but had sought advice, then the contravention would have been avoided.”

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It concluded: “She is the sole author of her own misfortune.”

In a Facebook post following the tribunal’s decision, Sharapova described the two-year suspension as “unfairly harsh.” Here’s more:

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

The Facebook Post has collected over 52,000 likes  (as of now) with very loyal and supporting comments from thousands of people all over the world. Trending Twitter hashtags like #BringMariaBack and #IStandForMaria also did their rounds on Twitter.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: saurabhbodas96




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