Maria Sharapova slapped with two-year ban by International Tennis Federation

SportBy Sunday World
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

The International Tennis Federation has announced Maria Sharapova has been given a two-year suspension - effective from January 26, 2016 - for committing an anti-doping violation.

Sharapova's suspension is backdated to January 26 this year, when she tested positive for prohibited substance meldonium.

The five-time grand slam champion will miss the Olympic Games in Rio this summer while the earliest grand slam she could next compete in will be the French Open in 2018.

In a statement issued on her Facebook page, Maria Sharapova has said she will "immediately appeal the suspension portion" to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The 28-year-old Russian revealed in March that she has been taking medicine given to her by her doctor for the past 10 years that was not on the banned substances list.

Meldonium, which Sharapova said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Doping Anti-Agency (WADA) at the beginning of the year, having been part of its monitoring program throughout 2015.

However, on 1 January 2016 it was added to the list, with Sharapova claiming she was unaware of the developments. The Russian confirmed that she accepts that she has failed a drugs test.

Sharapova claimed she did not realise the substance was illegal, but took "full responsibility" for her actions.

"I know that with this I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way and I hope that will have a chance to play again," she told reporters at a press conference in Los Angeles.

"I received a letter on 22 December from Wada for the changes next year and where the tests will be with a link to the changes for 2016 and I did not look at that list.

"I do not, this is very new to me. I only received the letter a few days ago and I will be working with the ITF."

Sharapova claimed she was prescribed meldonium, also known as mildronate, by her doctor in 2006 to deal with health issues such as an irregular heartbeat and a history of diabetes in her family.

The five-time Grand Slam winner called the press conference ahead of a "major announcement", with many observers expecting Sharapova to announce her retirement from the game.

A string of injuries had left the player struggling for form, with her last Grand Slam final appearance coming in Australia last year where she was beaten in straight sets by Serena Williams.

She has struggled throughout 2016 with an injury to her left forearm which hampered her campaign at the Australian Open in January, where she made a quarter-final exit at the hands of Williams.

Sharapova has not competed since then, and was forced to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California in March having failed to recover from the injury.