Reprieve

Court reduces 2-year doping ban for tennis star Maria Sharapova

Russia's Maria Sharapova plays a forehand return during her women's singles match against Serena Williams of the US on day nine of the 2016 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2016. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Tennis fans will get to see Maria Sharapova back on the court sooner than expected after the Court of Arbitration for Sport slashed nine months off her two-year suspension. The five-time Grand Slam champion was suspended earlier this year after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium at The Australian Open back in January. The suspension cost her several endorsements, though some sponsors stuck by her side, and caused her to miss the Olympics in Rio this summer.

“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,” Sharapova said in a statement posted on Facebook after the decision was handed down. “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.”

The reduction means Sharapova could be back on the court and eligible for Grand Slam play at next year’s French Open in April. Sharapova has maintained that she didn’t know meldonium was a banned substance — it was just added to the prohibited substance list at the beginning of 2016 — when she tested positive. The court ruled that Sharapova “bore some degree of fault” for the positive test and added that a 15-month suspension is “appropriate.”

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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