MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. The International Tennis Federation handled the case of Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova very poorly and today’s decision made by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has clearly proved it, the player’s lawyer John Haggerty told TASS.
"In sum, the CAS decision is a stunning repudiation of the ITF and it exposes the ITF decision for what it is: Pure Fiction," Haggerty said in an interview with TASS.
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.
"CAS striking down the ITF ruling is another in a growing list of cases where CAS has determined that the ITF Tribunal’s decision was wrong," Haggerty said. "In fact, the last time CAS upheld an ITF ruling was way back in 2009. Clearly, the ITF Tribunals are wrong far too often."
"And the really sad part about that here is Maria was forced to live with the ITF's bad judgment and faulty conclusions for many months," he said. "Hopefully, this CAS decision will be a wake-up call to future ITF Tribunals."
"I am very glad Maria’s suspension has been substantially reduced and that she will be back playing tennis in April," Sharapova’s lawyer said.
"The ITF handled this matter poorly from start to finish," Haggerty said. "Maria took responsibility for her mistake. It’s time for the ITF to take responsibility for its mistakes and change its procedures so that this can never happen to another player. Based on this ruling, the ITF has a lot to learn."
In early March, Sharapova was first to announce 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.
On June 9, Sharapova filed an appeal with the CAS in Switzerland’s Lausanne against her two-year suspension, which was officially announced on June 8 by the ITF Tribunal over anti-doping violations.
Due to the imposed ban Sharapova, the silver Olympic medalist of the 2012 Games in London, had to miss the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, held in August in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.
Mildronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without a doctor’s prescription.