Maria Sharapova's contract with Nike has resumed
Maria Sharapova's contract with Nike has resumed.
The 29-year-old tennis champion - who was dropped from her lucrative multi-million pound deal with the brand after she admitted to taking the performance enhancing drug Meldonium, which was outlawed by the World Anti-Doping agency in January this year - is set to rekindle her partnership with the sports giant after the ITF (International Tennis Federation) Tribunal granted the incident a "mistake".
Speaking to WWD about Maria's future with Nike, a spokesperson from the company said: "The ITF Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules. Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban. Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her."
And the sporting equipment company HEAD and NetJets will also join forces with the five-time Grand Slam champion.
The HEAD chairman, Johan Eliasch, explained: "Without necessary and extensive clinical testing that highlights either Meldonium's performing enhancing benefits or evidence of it being detrimental to athletes, it is evident that WADA banned Meldonium based upon the amount of athletes using Meldonium rather than any scientific evidence."
A spokesman from NetJets confirmed their collaboration with the sportswoman, and said: "NetJets, is also standing by her. A company spokesman said Wednesday, "We continue our relationship with Ms. Sharapova and we look to seeing her back on the court soon."
The Russian-born star, who won her first Wimbledon tennis title at the age of 17, admitted to taking the anti-ischemic drug - used to increase blood flow to the heart - in March, although she claimed she had been legally prescribed it in 2006 by her family doctor to help with her health issues.
Although Maria has earned back her ambassadorial role with athletic clothing brands, she is still banned from the International Tennis Federation and has been issued a two-year suspension.
Maria shared a string of pictures on her Facebook account of the official court documents detailing the conclusion to the case. Alongside the images she wrote: "Today with their decision of a two year suspension, the ITF tribunal unanimously concluded that what I did was not intentional. The tribunal found that I did not seek treatment from my 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.
"While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension. The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans. (sic)."