Nike to keep working with Sharapova despite ban Nike to keep working with Sharapova despite ban
Maria Sharapova was suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday for testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January.
The 29-year-old Russian tennis star, who has lucrative advertising contracts, said she will immediately appeal the suspension.
According to a statement on Sharapova’s Facebook page, the ITF “unanimously concluded” that the tennis star “did not seek treatment from [her] doctor 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. You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years — the required suspension for an intentional violation — and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position,” Sharapova said.
She said she “cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension.”
“I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters. I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days. I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible,” Sharapova said.
After the ruling, Steve Simon, CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, said: “It is important at all times for players to be aware of the rules and to follow them.”
“In this case, Maria has taken responsibility for her mistake from the outset,” Simon said in a statement.
“The WTA supports the process that the ITF and Maria have followed. The ITF has made its ruling and, under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program, the decision may be appealed to the Court Arbitration for Sport. The WTA will continue to follow this closely and we hope it will be resolved as soon as possible,” he said.