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Maria Sharapova ban reduced to 15 months

Good news for Maria Sharapova fans. It turns out they will not have to wait two years before they see her back on a tennis court. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned a two-year suspension that Sharapova received after she tested positive for a banned substance on the WADA (World- Anti-Doping-Agency) list.

Early in the year Sharapova informed the world that she tested positive for the drug   meldonium at this year’s Australian Open. Sharapova claimed ignorance for not knowing the drug she had been taking for 10 years for a heart condition, was on the list of banned substances as of January 1st of this year.

As a result of testing positive Sharapova was handed a two-year suspension by the ITF causing her to miss the last three grand slams of the year, as well as other significant tournaments.  The decision was immediately appeal by Sharapova’s lawyers who stated the decision was a “stunning repudiation”, due to what he believed was a lack of notification that meldonium had entered the banned substance list. The CAS agreed to an extent stating in their ruling that Sharapova “bore some fault” but “less than a significant amount of the fault”.

For Sharapova it has been a trying time. Since announcing her positive test she has received heavy criticism from tennis fans and from fellow players. Sharapova even lost some endorsement deals. However, Sharapova fans could tell that the Russian tennis star was trying to keep a positive attitude. After the suspension, Sharapova announced on Instagram, that she would be attending Harvard Business School and she also shared that she was doing internships, one particular one being her clothing and shoe gear sponsor, Nike.

But even with those extracurricular activities planned, it was obvious that Sharapova’s only goal was and still is to get back on the tennis court. Upon hearing about the reduced ban Sharapova stated that   ‘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.” She also stated that she is “counting the days” where she can return to the sport where she has an incredible amount of passion for.

With the suspension reduced Sharapova is slated to make her comeback in April (Her suspension started retroactively to the last time she played in January). That gives her a month and some weeks to prepare for her most successful grand slam, the French Open. The question that will be on everyone’s mind though is can Sharapova make a victorious comeback. Although it appears that Sharapova is keeping fit, there is no substitute for being match-fit. Furthermore, without question players will be gunning for her, not only because of her name but because of the suspicions this ban has raised (Was she using this drug for actual health reason or was this just an exploited advantage?)

There is no doubt that Sharapova will be welcomed back to tournaments with open arms. WTA CEO Steven Simon, rejoiced on the news of Sharapova being able to return early. He said to the AP, “We’re very much looking forward to seeing her come back to the court next spring.” Simon also believe that Sharapova deserves an unlimited number of wildcards into the major tournaments (Sharapova’s ranking has dropped and will continue to drop to the point she would have to play qualifying rounds at major tournaments, unless given a wildcard, which allows direct interest). Sharapova is a superstar in the game and love her or hate her, she is a player to be watch. How she performs while being watch, will have to be seen in April.

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Ricardo is the lead Tennis Analyst here at
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