Maria Sharapova Wins Appeal, Doping Ban Reduced To 15 Months, She’ll Return In April
by Staff | October 4th, 2016, 10:05 am

The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced that is has reduced Maria Sharapova’s doping suspension from two years to 15 months, allowing the Russian to return to tennis on April 26, 2017 and be availble to play three of the last four Grand Slams next year.

Sharapova was suspended from the tour after testing positive for the drug meldonium at the Australian Open. She was given a 2-year ban from the sport in June.

Sharapova kept taking the drug at the start of 2016 after it had been announced the drug was going to be prohibited at the start of the new year. Sharapova argued she and her agent, IMG’s Max Eisenbud, made the mistake of not knowing of the change. And she admitted to confusion over the brand name vs the substance itself (mildronate vs meldonium).

CAS agreed but still stated Sharapova was responsible for knowing the Prohibited List, however cited the ITF for not better notifying players of changes and they did not agree with many of the findings of the independent ITF Tribunal.

“The Panel finds that that the Player’s fault was not significant,” they said.

“Where the Player fell short, however, was in her failure to monitor or supervise in any way whether and how IMG was meeting the anti-doping obligations imposed on an athlete when IMG agreed to assist her. She failed to discuss with Mr Eisenbud what needed to be done to check the continued availability of Mildronate (as opposed to the procedure to check new substances she was prescribed), to put him in contact with Dr Skalny to understand the nature of the Skalny products, to understand whether Mildronate was the name of the product or the substance, and whether he had made the necessary confirmation each year that the product had not been added to the Prohibited List.

“For these reasons, the Player’s fault is greater than the minimum degree of fault falling within NSF, but as noted less than Significant Fault. Accordingly, the Panel has determined, under the totality of the circumstances, that a sanction of fifteen (15) months is appropriate here given her degree of fault.”

Calling it one of the happiest days of her career, Sharapova responded to the ruling:

I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April.

In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court.
I have learned from this, and I hope the ITF has as well. CAS concluded that “the Panel has determined it does not agree with many of the conclusions of the [ITF] Tribunal…”

I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last ten years was no longer allowed. But I also learned how much better other Federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where Mildronate is commonly taken by millions of people.

Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other Federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through.

And to my fans, I thank you so much for living and breathing so many of these tough months together. During this time, I have learned the true meaning of a fan and I am so fortunate to have had your support.
I’m coming back soon and I can’t wait!

When she returns, Sharapova will not have played a pro match in 15 months, will have just turned 30 and will not have a ranking. But the former No. 1 will have access to wildcards which, if given by tournaments, will get her into main draws until her ranking improves.

Sharapova, who turns 30 on April 19, will be eligible to play starting on April 26, however the first week of events she will be able to receive wildcards for are on May 1 in Rabat and Prague.

And then, how willing will tournaments like the French Open and Wimbledon be to giving her wildcards into their events?

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18 Comments for Maria Sharapova Wins Appeal, Doping Ban Reduced To 15 Months, She’ll Return In April

Danica Says:

Great news!!

And am even more impressed with the statement by the Head CEO questioning some of the Olympians who were allowed to dope for “therapeutic reasons”.

Can’t wait to see Maria back.
I hope the likes of Kiki Mladenovic and Cibulkova be the first to fall to her come April 2017.

Willow Says:

Looks like shes celebrating in that picture, time will tell if shes the same player, but tennis is moving on with new players making some noise now, not a player i care for a great deal but good to have her back i suppose ….

jalep Says:

Dang. I haven’t missed her shrieking or diva-like persona on court at all. It’s been a refreshing reprieve without her, imo.

jalep Says:

On a positive note, Agnieszka Radwanska has qualified for Singapore WTF…again:

BBB Says:

Danica, I often agree with you, but not here. I read the CAS decision and think they glossed over any explanation of why they reversed the panel’s finding that she took it for performance enhancing purposes. The panel’s evidence was more thoughtfully put forward.

Wog Boy Says:

“Can’t wait to see Maria back.
I hope the likes of Kiki Mladenovic and Cibulkova be the first to fall to her come April 2017.”

Can’t agree more about those two little bit€hes and I am not even Maria fan, but respect her very much, always loved people with determination and no surrender atitude.

Danica Says:

No problem at all. My thinking is that there are double standards when some players -or some nations- are in question and I despise that. I am all for the fair and same treatment of all. And like WB, I am not even Maria’s fan. Pretty much watch her (and Azarenka’s) matches on mute. But, I was disgusted with all the nasty comments that followed her admission as well as the opportunity some of her (aforementioned) colleagues used when she was most vulnerable, to spill the vitriol.

Willow Says:

IMO She got off lightly, i wonder if this had been a lesser player, and not of Marias calibre if wouldve been a longer ban ….

Anyway Serena will probably say welcome back, although shes a far superior player with nothing to lose, although i doubt the rest would welcome her back with open arms, one thing i did admire about her was her fighting qualities, things i dislike about her was her shrieking, and keeping opponents waiting, and turning her back on them, all smacked of games man ship ….

Danica Says:

See Willow, I don’t see that as gamesmanship at all. To me, she is focused, concentrated. That’s her routine to keep herself calm and in the zone. I don’t think she turns her back in order to intimidate or belittle her opponents.
What I like about her is the fact that she knows how to laugh at herself.

Willow Says:

Danica each to their own i suppose, and look at Jaleps link, and disagre you could see how all that shreiking was getting to Li Na, i dont care how much she laughs at herself, what a fighter she is, just dont like some of the things she does on court sorry, and i hopefully can look forward to Serena kicking her backside again very soon, to say i was the boss when you left, and guess what i still am lol ! ….

J-Kath Says:

It’s the shrieking that gets me. I can’t get by it. Put down the sound..Yes ..however, it fails to apease me.

Margot Says:

Tennis etiquette is surely that you play at the server’s pace and Scharapova doesn’t do this. She keeps the server waiting. To me this is gameswomanship and I can’t her, I’m afraid.

Margot Says:

And the shrieking, which apparently doesn’t happen on the practise court. And the fact that, altho. apparently so worried about diabetes that she took long term medication, but she’s still quite happy to sell Sugarpova to kids!
I’ll stop now…you’ll be glad to know…;)

J-Kath Says:

To summarise:

It’s welcome back Maria….hmmph…

Giles Says:

Funny, it’s just the women on here b* tching about Maria.

J-Kath Says:


Curious why you find that funny?
There are a whole lot more female celebrities that are far more worthy of admiration. Few bother to dislike her – she’s a yawn – has actually become a nonetity.

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