After months and months, Maria Sharapova finally got the decision of her appeal. CAS cut her 2-year ban down to 15 months after determining Sharapova was at fault for not abiding by the rules but she didn’t do it on purpose.
1. Is Sharapova In The Clear?
That depends on who you ask. Her supporters, her fans will say she’s clear but her fellow players still have to wonder why she was taking that drug for 10 years with little disclosure and why she was taking more of it ahead of important matches. I wonder the same.
But CAS went out of their way to make it clear that she wasn’t taking it done for cheating. “Her plea of No Significant Fault or Negligence should be upheld,” they wrote.
So the debate will rage and I guess ultimately history will decide.
2. Who’s To Blame?
As I said before and as CAS stated, this falls directly on Sharapova. At the end of the day, she didn’t review the updated prohibited list and she paid dearly for it, losing 15 months of tennis and multi-millions in earnings and endorsements.
And to her credit, she admitted this was on her.
3. So Who Wins?
I don’t know if there are any winners in this ruling.
Maybe Angelique Kerber and some of the other players who benefited by not having to play Maria. But you could argue the bad PR from the Sharapova case only hurt the value of the WTA tour.
Sharapova is still hit with a 15-month ban and some will always consider her career suspect. She likely has made more enemies than friends over this. Is that a win? Hardly.
The ITF doping program had another case overturned (Cilic, Troicki have had similar results) and they again look like they don’t know what they are doing.
And the women’s tour still has to wait another 6.5 months before one of their top draws returns. So it remains a black eye on the sport.
4. What To Expect On Her Return?
The good news is her body will have had 15 months of pure rest, mental anguish aside.
The bad news is when she returns next May she’ll have just turned 30. Thirty in tennis is a tough number in tennis, and especially tough in women’s tennis where just nine different women have won a Slam after 30.
Thankfully (and luckily) for Sharapova, she might return at a time when Serena (now 35) continues to decline and the top of the women’s rankings remains in flux. So unless some new face takes over women’s tennis (Madison Keys? Angelique Kerber? Simona Halep? Karolina Pliskova?), which I doubt, she’ll be right in the mix by the time the US Open rolls around to start winning Slams again.
If healthy, the timing could turn out great for Maria.
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