Russian professional tennis player Maria Sharapova has received a doping ban of two years from the International Tennis Federation. The ban on Sharapova has been backdated to January 26 and she will be eligible to return to competition in January 2018 though she intends to appeal against the decision.
The ITF panel found that the use of Meldonium by Sharapova was however not intentionally made for enhancing performance. Nike, the sports apparel giant said, the ITF Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules and added Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her mistake, and is now appealing the length of the ban.
Sharapova admitted taking 500mg of Meldonium on each morning of her five matches at the Australian Open this year after it was placed on the World Anti Doping Agency list of banned substances and claimed she was unaware the drug was on the banned list. She did not mentioned the drug on the anti-doping forms though she disclosed taking other substances such as vitamin C, Omega 3, Biofenac, Voltaren, Veramyst, and Melatonin but not Meldonium.
The ITF Panel also found that Sharapova was taking 30 different medications regularly for more than six years before her positive test. The panel disclosed that Maria was taken Meldonium, the recently-banned substance secretly from her support team, including her nutritionist and several doctors and it was further said by the panel that Maria did not disclosed the medication on any anti-doping forms. Maria's father and her manager Max Eisenbud were the only ones who knew she was taking the drug.
The panel hearing said Eisenbud, a vice president of IMG, was in charge of reviewing the anti-doping list each year for Sharapova but it was found by the tribunal that he did not read the list this year. This was as he did not went on his usual vacation to the Caribbean, having separated from his wife, and was not near the pool where he would usually review the annual changes to the WADA code The tribunal said the idea that a professional manager, entrusted by IMG with the management of one of its leading global sporting stars, would so casually and ineptly have checked whether his player was complying with the anti-doping program, a matter critical to the player’s professional career and her commercial success, is unbelievable and the tribunal rejects Eisenbud’s evidence.
Sharapova’s former coach, Gabe Jaramillo, said Maria would be determined to ensure her ban did not spell the end of her career. He said Maria is is smart and competitive that these two years or year-and-a-half, she’s going to be working hard, she’s going to stay in shape, she’s going to be playing because she wants to come back and also remarked she is going to try her best to get back there again and, if he has to bet, he would bet that she will make it again.
In another development, the All England Club may expel Sharapova as its member over her two-year Meldonium ban.