Things aren't looking so good for Maria Sharapova.
The tennis legend was suspended for two years on Wednesday after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
According to the Associated Press, a three-person panel appointed by the International Tennis Federation said that while Sharapova did not intend to cheat, she bore the "sole responsibility" for doping.
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But the five-time Grand Slam champion is hitting back hard, immediately responding to the ban by vowing to appeal the decision.
In a statement, the athlete said:
"While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport."
Sharapova failed the doping test in January, but claimed she was not aware that the World Anti-Doping Agency had prohibited athletes from using meldonium as of January 1.
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The 29-year-old said she was first prescribed the drug — mostly used for heart conditions — for medical reasons back in 2006, making it clear she did "did not seek treatment for the purpose of obtaining a performance enhancing substance."
"The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not."
In addition to her two-year ban, the ITF also ruled that the athlete's results from the Australian Open should be disqualified — ordering Sharapova to forfeit her ranking points and prize money from the event.
Yikes! We guess we'll see how this will play out in court.
Do U think the tennis star really didn't know about the anti-doping policy?
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]
Tags: athlete, drugs, international tennis federation, legal matters, maria sharapova, medical, statement, tennis, treatment, zportz