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Olympic Champion Vesnina says Maria Sharapova’s absence on court is 'negative for tennis'

Olympic Champion Elena Vesnina told TASS that Maria Sharapova "had been missed on the court"

MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. Absence of Maria Sharapova at major tournaments has a negative impact on the world of tennis, Russian Olympic Champion Elena Vesnina told TASS on Tuesday.

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (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.

"This is definitely good news," Vesnina said in an interview with TASS. "We are badly missing Maria in the tournament race because she is a tennis player of a very high level."

"It would have been unfair to hand over a lengthy suspension term for such weak (performance enhancing) medication," she said. "We do all understand that she violated regulations, doping is doping, but giving two-year suspension is undoubtedly a very strong punishment."

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.

Mildronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without a doctor’s prescription.