Maria Sharapova drugs ban reduced from two years to 15 months

maria-sarapova Maria SharapovaThe five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, 29, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

The Russian will be able to return to the tennis court on 26 April, 2017. Meldonium, a heart disease drug also known as mildronate, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016. Sharapova won the Wimbledon singles title as a 17-year-old in 2004, going on to win the Australian, French and US Opens to complete a career Grand Slam.

In a 28-page ruling , the CAS panel found that Sharapova bore ”some degree of fault” but ”less than significant fault” in the case that has sidelined one of the world’s most prominent and wealthy female athletes.

”The panel has determined, under the totality of the circumstances, that a sanction of 15 months is appropriate here given her degree of fault,” the three-man arbitration body ruled.

While Sharapova did commit a doping violation, ”under no circumstances … can the player be considered to be an `intentional doper,”’ the panel said.

Sharapova’s ban, which took effect on Jan. 26, was originally due to run until Jan. 25, 2018. Now she can return on April 26, 2017, a month ahead of the French Open, a Grand Slam tournament she has won twice.

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