The Court of Arbitration set aside the previous ruling of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in the case brought by the ITF against Maria Sharapova‘s Meldonium use, reducing the Russian’s ban from two years to 15 months after concluding that she did not endeavor to mark or hide her use of the drug.
Based on the evidence, the Panel emphasized that Sharapova was not an intentional doper and a cheating athlete, but she does bear some fault for not carefully monitoring changes in prohibited substances, therefore, there is no full reduction of the sentence. Precisely, Sharapova is allowed to return to competitive tennis on April 26th, 2017.
Sharapova will come back to the WTA circuit as a 30-year-old and she can’t wait:
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.
There is also some criticism of the ITF in Masha’s official statement:
I have taken responsibility from the very beginning for not knowing that the over-the-counter supplement I had been taking for the last ten years was no longer allowed. But I also learned how much better other Federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where Mildronate is commonly taken by millions of people.
Some sponsors quickly left Sharapova when the doping bas was issued, some, like Head, stood by her. Porsche was among those that distanced themselves and now they’re back in the Sharapova camp.