Maria Sharapova will be eligible to return to competitive tennis in April after her two-year doping ban was reduced to 15 months on Tuesday by a sports court that found the Russian star bore no “significant fault” for her positive drug test and did not intend to cheat.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport cut nine months off the suspension imposed on Sharapova, who tested positive for the banned heart medication meldonium at the Australian Open in January.
Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player, appealed to CAS in June seeking to overturn or reduce the two-year penalty imposed by the International Tennis Federation.
In a 28-page ruling, the CAS panel found that Sharapova bore “some degree of fault” but “less than significant fault” in the case that has sidelined one of the world’s most prominent and wealthy female athletes.
“The panel has determined, under the totality of the circumstances, that a sanction of 15 months is appropriate here given her degree of fault,” the three-man arbitration body ruled.
While Sharapova did commit a doping violation, “under no circumstances … can the player be considered to be an ‘intentional doper,’” the panel said.
Sharapova’s ban, which took effect on Jan. 26, was originally due to run until Jan. 25, 2018. Now she can return on April 26, 2017, a month ahead of the French Open, a Grand Slam tournament she has won twice.
culled -thejapan news.