Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova vowed to appeal her two-year ban from tennis after a failed drug test. The former Wimbledon champion was handed the ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after she failed an anti-doping test at the Australian Open in January.
The 29-year-old Russian admitted to taking meldonium, a heart disease treatment, and was unaware it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list from January 1 this year.
Sharapova described the two-year suspension on Wednesday as “unfairly harsh” and says she will lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“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,” Sharapova wrote in a facebook post.
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.
Please see my statement on the ITF’s decision on my Facebook page: https://t.co/UuuGLCR5lY— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) June 8, 2016
Her ban means that she will miss the Olympic Games in Rio this summer while the earliest grand slam she could next enter is the French Open in 2018.
Her Australian Open results, where she lost to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals, as well as her prize money and ranking points earned at the event have also been disqualified.
Meldonium was on World Anti Doping Agency’s watch list last year and in September the agency announced it would be banned from the start of 2016, as it said there was evidence it was being used by athletes to enhance performance.