MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, whose suspension term was reduced earlier in the day by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), announced in a statement on Tuesday she hoped the International Tennis Federation (ITF) would draw conclusions following her suspension.
The Swiss-based CAS ruled earlier in the day to reduce Sharapova’s suspension term, which entered into force on January 26, from 24 to 15 months. Sharapova is now eligible to officially return back to tennis courts starting April 26 next year.
"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," a statement posted on her Facebook account said.
"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," she said.
"Now that this process is over, I hope the ITF and other relevant tennis anti-doping authorities will study what these other Federations did, so that no other tennis player will have to go through what I went through," Sharapova added.
Mildronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without a doctor’s prescription.
On June 9, Sharapova filed an appeal with the CAS in Switzerland’s Lausanne against her two-year suspension, which was officially confirmed on June 8 by the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Tribunal over anti-doping violations.
Due to the imposed ban world’s former No. 1 Sharapova had to miss the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, held in August in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.
In early March, Sharapova announced that her doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug meldonium in the body system. Following the announcement, former World’s No. 1 was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities.
The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by WADA from January 1, 2016. The presence of the meldonium substance in the athlete’s blood during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules. The substance belongs to S4 class on the WADA blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators).
WADA announced on April 13 that the concentration of less than one microgram of meldonium in the body system of an athlete, whose doping tests were conducted before March 1, was acceptable.