Sharapova gets a two-year ban over Meldonium use

Maria Sharapova

The ITF Tribunal has finished processing Maria Sharapova's anti-doping rule violation and their conclusion is that the Russian did not intentionally break the anti-doping rules by taking Mildronate, however, they issued a two-year ban, the maximum suspension for an unintentional offence.

The tennis star commented on the decision on her Facebook page:

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.

So, the ban could have been four years, had her violation been intentional, while there was no scenario in which Sharapova could have received a suspension of less than one year. However, she received the maximum ban for unintentional violation and she's in distress about it. Hence, this is not over, as Sharapova is going to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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.

That's Sharapova's side of the story. However, the ITF Tribunal says the following in the official Decision:

The manner of its use, on match days and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels. It may be that she genuinely believed that Mildronate had some general beneficial effect on her health but the manner in which the medication was taken, its concealment from the anti-doping authorities, her failure to disclose it even to her own team, and the lack of any medical justification must inevitably lead to the conclusion that she took Mildronate for the purpose of enhancing her performance.

Explaining the reason behind the two-year ban, the ITF Tribunal states:

On the findings of the fact set out above the player cannot prove that she exercised any degree of diligence, let alone utmost caution, to ensure that her ingestion of Mildronate did not constitute a contravention. To the contrary her concealment from the anti-doping authorities and her team of the fact that she was regularly using Mildronate in competition for performance enhancement was a very serious breach of her duty to comply with the rules.

Whether Sharapova will manage to decrease the length of the ban or not, her suspension counts from January 26th, the day her positive sample was taken during the 2016 Australian Open. She is automatically disqualified in respect of her results at the Grand Slam, forfeits 430 ranking points and prize money of AUS$281,633.

16 thoughts on “Sharapova gets a two-year ban over Meldonium use

  1. MG

    Actually, I read the decision on the ITF website and it says that the she did take Meldonium to enhance her performance, but the violation was not intentional, because she didn't know Meldonium was a prohibited substance.

  2. TheRealDeal

    Two-year ban well deserved for Sharapova, the deceiving slickster. Seemingly, no partiality was shown here; they made the right decision. Congrats to Garbine Muguruza for taking the #2 rank and for her 1st major title! When Serena won Wimbledon last year, her words of encouragement to Muguruza proved to be prophetic. Mugu's such an amazing athlete, and she's well on her way to winning more majors. I could tell the first time I saw her play tennis, she had the goods to make it happen and quickly. "Go, Garbine!"

  3. Claire

    There is a rule, you receive a shorter ban if you admit doping at an early stage. Hence the reason for the announcement at the press Conference in LA. Obviously, the orchestration did not impress the ITF tribunal. Fair enough!!

  4. kathy

    You know, we all know the rules of our sport. If this is what she decided to do then unfortunately she has to suffer the consequences. Its too bad, I think she's a great tennis player!

  5. S

    Why did you remove the section of WTA tweets from your home page? I enjoyed reading those in that format!

  6. Marija Post author

    S June, because I'm trying to speed up page load. Since now I have feedback that someone really likes it, I will return it on Monday. Thank you for your comment.

  7. John Walters

    I also like the twitter feeds. Anytime something big happens in the tennis world I will come to your site to get reactions from the tennis players.

  8. Marija Post author

    John Walters, oh wow, I didn't knot that. So maybe it's even good that I removed it, as this is the first time I'm getting feedback on it 🙂 I'm bringing it back right away.

  9. TheRealDeal

    Thanks, Claire, for the link to the very detailed article from The Telegraph on Maria being found guilty of doping. I've not seen or read anything quite like it. Boy, I do declare, they gave many unheard of details regarding this messed up situation! Finally, someone was brave enough to tell the entire truth of the matter. The article speaks volumes about Sharapova's lack of veracity and exposes just how frequently she took the drug and specifically when. Sharapova's adoring fans and those sheeple who are still defending and believing her need to read that article ASAP! To be honest, my mouth flew open as I read it.

  10. Ga

    Marija, thanks for putting up such a comprehensive article! It does a good job of explaining all the technicalities of the case. Still feels very strange this year, with this suspension, Serena losing TWO slam finals, and all the up and down results of the top 10 players.

    Also, thanks for bringing back the Twitter feed! It's always great seeing big events, such as Flavia's wedding, all over it 😀

  11. Marija Post author

    TheRealDeal, hmm it seems that the Telegraph article is not available any more. Can you open the link?

    Ga, thank you! 🙂 Oh I didn't even know the Twitter feed was so popular. We should communicate more 🙂

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