Maria Sharapova was suspended two years by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday for doping, a ban she called “unfairly harsh” and plans to appeal.
The 28-year-old Sharapova announced in March she tested positive for meldonium, which she said she has been taking for 10 years to treat numerous health issues.
Meldonium became a banned substance this year under the WADA code, and Sharapova claims she didn’t notice its addition to the banned list.
Sharapova immediately went on the offensive Wednesday, releasing a statement on Facebook that questioned the validity of the ITF’s suspension. She says the ITF wanted to ban her for four years, but it was reduced to two years by a tribunal because the ITF had not found evidence that Sharapova’s doping was intentional.
“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova said. “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.”
Sharapova has been blasted by numerous tour pros for giving the sport a black eye, while others have used the opportunity to call her out as one of the coldest players on the WTA Tour.
“I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters,” wrote Sharapova, who ended the letter: “Love, Maria.”
“I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days.
I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.”
Sharapova said she tested positive at the Australian Open, where she lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals on Jan. 26.