Russia, Moscow: Russian former world number one tennis star Maria Sharapova, the five-time tennis Grand Slam champion, has been handed a two-year ban after failing a drugs test at the Australian Open in January.
The 29-year-old Russian took meldonium, a commonly-used heart disease drug, for a period of time which overlapped the 1 January 2016 cut-off date, when it was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) banned list. At an anti-doping hearing in London on Wednesday, Sharapova was informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that she would be banned for two years as meldonium is a metabolic modulator which increases stamina and endurance.
Sharapova, who won Wimbledon in 2004, has avoided the maximum four-year ban after Wada admitted earlier this year that scientists could not determine how long the drug remained in the user’s system after it had been taken. It is reported that Sharapova will now appeal against the ban, which has been backdated to 26 January 2016, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.