1. ITV Report

Tennis star Maria Sharapova has drugs ban reduced by seven months

Maria Sharapova will now be back sooner. Photo: PA

Maria Sharapova has had her ban from tennis reduced from two years to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport following an appeal.

The reduction means she will be able to return to action in time for the French Open next year.

The Russian was originally banned in June after she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova posted a statement on Facebook, which saw her thank fasn for their support throughout the ban.

Sharapova could be back for the French Open. Credit: PA

I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April.

In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back. Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court.

I have learned from this, and I hope the ITF has as well. CAS concluded that “the Panel has determined it does not agree with many of the conclusions of the [ITF] Tribunal…”

I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last ten years was no longer allowed. But I also learned how much better other Federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where Mildronate is commonly taken by millions of people.

Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other Federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through.

And to my fans, I thank you so much for living and breathing so many of these tough months together. During this time, I have learned the true meaning of a fan and I am so fortunate to have had your support.

I’m coming back soon and I can’t wait!

Love, Maria

– Maria Sharapova