Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in January at the Australian Open. In a hastily called press conference in March, she acknowledged that she’d taken the drug, saying she simply didn’t know that it was on the list of newly banned substances for 2016. On Wednesday, an Independent Tribunal appointed by the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme found that Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation, and banned her from the sport for two years, effective on January 26, 2016.
There’s a lot to unpack from the 33-page decision, such as Sharapova’s agent saying he didn’t realize that meldonium was banned because he didn’t take his annual Caribbean vacation after splitting from his wife:
Ultimately, however, the bottom line is that the ITP decided that Sharapova didn’t intentionally break the rules. If she had, it’s likely her sentence would’ve been between two to four years, rather than one to two.
Sharapova immediately released a statement after the decision came down saying that she would appeal, calling the sentence “unfairly harsh.”
It will be interesting to see how the ban affects Sharapova’s bottom line, and whether her fans will…