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Added June 14th, 2016 by Ian

Maria Sharapova could have tennis ban reduced

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova is generally considered to be the top-earning female athlete in the world for the past decade, but she likely won’t be making any money on the court for the next year or two. She has been banned for failing a drug test, but an International Tennis Federation tribunal has said she didn’t intentionally cheat. Sharapova and Max Eisenbud, her agent, claim they didn’t know the drug she tested positive for, meldonium which is also known by its brand name of Mildronate, was on the banned substance list. However, there are those who feel the drug shouldn’t be on the banned list since it can remain in a person’s system for quite some time and it doesn’t really enhance and athlete’s performance.

Meldonium is known as a heart medication which supposedly helps improve a person’s blood flow and enables them to recover faster. The World Anti-Doping Agency’s added it to its banned list on January 1st after monitoring the drug for a year. The 29-year-old Sharapova is ultimately responsible for what she ingests and the winner of five Grand Slam singles crowns will have to pay the consequences even though she believes her suspension is too harsh. She will have the chance to appeal the ban as her case will be heard by the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) likely in July. The court could then recommend the suspension be shortened. If she had intentionally taken meldonium Sharapova would likely have been banned for four years.

She admitted to taking the drug before all of her matches at January’s Australian Open as she didn’t realize it was a banned substance. In fact, when she first starting taking the drug in 2006 for alleged health reasons it wasn’t on the banned-substance list. There are now some legal experts who believe Sharapova will win her appeal. However, they don’t think the CAS will cut the ban in half. They believe she’ll end up with a suspension in the range of 15 to 20 months. She didn’t declare meldonium on her doping-control papers between the years 2006 and 2016 and she also failed to declare her use of two other drugs named Riboxin and Magnerot that were recommended to her by a doctor.

All three of the drugs were legal then and Magnerot and Riboxin are still legal for tennis players today. Many other athletes tested positive this year for meldonium since they were taking it before it was banned and some of them also claimed they didn’t know it was prohibited. The International Tennis Federation claims its athletes were sufficiently noticed though. If the CAS upholds her two-year ban, Sharapova won’t be able to play again until late in January of 2018, meaning she’ll miss the Australian Open that year just before returning. She will also be 30 years old at that point and won’t be ranked. Sharapova is currently ranked number 26 for women’s singles tennis.

 
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