The Russian star has been banned for two years by the International Tennis Federation for using a prohibited drug, Meldonium.
Former World no. 1 Maria Sharapova has been banned for two years on Wednesday following her positive drug test at this year’s Australian open.
She was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open. Maria too has confessed that she has been taking Meldonium, a heart disease drug, since 2006 but was unaware that the World Anti-Doping Agency banned it from 1 January 2016.
The 29-year-old five-time Grand Slam winner said she “cannot accept” the “unfairly harsh” ban – and will appeal at the Court of arbitration for sports.
“On 2 March 2016, Ms Sharapova was charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme (Presence of prohibited substance in a player’s Sample),” said the ITF statement.
“She promptly admitted that she had committed the Aniti-Doping Rule Violaton charged, and asked for a hearing before an Independent Tribunal in accordance with Article 8 of the programme to determine the consequences to be imposed on her for that violation.”
“At a two-day hearing on 18-19 May 2016, the Independent Tribunal received evidence and heard legal arguments from both parties, and subsequently issued a reasoned decision on 8 June,” it added.
Sharapove in a statement said that she had been taking the drug to address a number of health issues including low magnesium level, getting flu every couple of months, irregular EKGs and had evidence of diabetes.
On march 7 this year Sharapova has also admitted that she has been taking the drug for almost 10 years and has no idea that the drug has been banned from January 1.