Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova’s ban from tennis for doping violations has been reduced from twenty-four to fifteen months, and will now end on April 25, 2017.
The doping ban was reduced following her appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS].
The CAS panel said it found Sharapova’s case “was not about an athlete who cheated”.
It added that Sharapova was at fault for not giving her agent “adequate instructions” in checking Wada’s prohibited list and “failing to supervise and control” her agent.
The tribunal ruling said Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in an out-of-competition test on 2 February, as well as in the aftermath of her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on 26 January.
It treated both results as a single anti-doping violation.
Sharapova, 29, was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
Sharapova announced in March that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open.
She had been taking Meldonium since 2006, and continued to do so after the substance was added to a banned list earlier this year.
Meldonium, a heart disease drug also known as mildronate, became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.
Sharapova said she had been taking the drug since 2006 for health problems and had “not tried to use a performance-enhancing substance”.
She said she was unaware the drug had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) banned list.
Sharapova contended that she had done so because she had simply ignored emails from the World Anti-Doping Association noting the drug’s new designation.
Sharapova, once the world’s top-ranked tennis player, had been plagued by a rash of injuries and was ranked No. 7 at the time of her positive test revelation.
She has since slid all the way to No. 96. Her 35 singles titles and five Grand Slams rank third among active players behind Venus and Serena Williams.
“I don’t want to end my career this way,” Sharapova said at the time she revealed her positive test. “I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.” It appears she will get that chance.
“I am counting the days until I can return,” she said.
“In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it.”
Sharapova has won the French Open twice and Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Open once apiece.
She is one of only ten women, and the only Russian woman, to hold the career Grand Slam.
Maria Sharapova won the Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old in 2004, then went on to win five career Grand Slams.
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