Maria Sharapova will return to tennis next April after having meldonium ban reduced by CAS
Published 04/10/2016 | 14:12
Maria Sharapova has had her two-year doping ban reduced to 15 months after a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
The reduction, after the Russian tennis star tested positive for meldonium in January, was widely expected as the debate around the drug meldonium rages on.
Sharapova will now be free to compete again in April 2017, with her ban beginning with her positive test earlier this year.
Sharapova's legal team argued that her status and profile had prompted International Tennis Federations (ITF) to be unreasonably harsh in banning the 29-year-old, in order to make an example of her.
Her appeal also attempted to highlight that other athletes with cases similar to that of Sharapova have received no ban whatsoever for taking meldonium.
There remains a lack of consensus on how long it takes meldonium to leave an athlete's body and, thus, whether athletes received enough warning prior to it being added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) 'banned list' of substances in January.
However, Sharapova's critics and anti-doping campaigners will point to the fact that she was warned five times in the month prior to her positive test that meldonium would be banned.
Cas has form for reducing bans handed out by the ITF, having reduced Marin Cilic's drugs ban from nine months to four in 2013.
Sharapova was sentenced to a two-year ban from tennis in June, having tested positive in January and announced the news herself at a press conference in March.