Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova was suspended tennis for two years today after she tested positive for a banned substance – meldonium – at the Australian Open. The athlete responded promptly to the accusation, saying she would appeal the decision to sport’s highest court, reports CBS.
In fact, Sharapova made public on Monday during a press conference the fact that she had failed the respective drug test. The 28-year-old tennis star admitted she has been taking it for 10 years for numerous health issues.
Meldonium is a new addition to the list of banned substances under the WADA code, and Sharapova claims she didn’t notice the change to the banned list.
Also known as mildronate, the drug is typically prescribed to heart failure patients in some parts of Europe. It treats ischemia, or lack of blood flow. If taken by athletes, however, meldonium can help increase endurance performance, improve rehabilitation after exercise, protect against stress, and enhance the central nervous system, according to a 2015 study conducted by German scientists.
The ruling of independent three-person panel appointed by the International Tennis Federation said Sharapova did not intend to cheat, but that she bore “sole responsibility” and “very significant fault” for the positive test.
Sharapova took to Facebook to express her thoughts with regards to the harsh punishment she received: “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.”