The career of Russian former world number one Maria Sharapova was in tatters on Wednesday after she was given a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following her positive test for the banned drug meldonium at this year's Australian Open.
In a statement the ITF said the 29-year-old five-times grand slam champion's ban would be backdated to Jan. 26 this year, meaning her results and prize money from the Australian Open, where she reached the quarter-finals, would be cancelled out.
Sharapova said she would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), describing the punishment as "unfairly harsh".
She said an independent tribunal in London on May 18-19 had found that she had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules.
Timeline of Maria Sharapova's doping case:
Jan 26 - Sharapova loses to old rival Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
March 7 - Sharapova calls press conference at a Los Angeles hotel where she reveals that after her loss in Melbourne she tested positive for meldonium, a substance placed on the WADA banned list at the start of the year.
March 8 - Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche halt their lucrative relationships with Sharapova.
March 8 - Sharapova's old rival Williams praises the Russian's "courage" in fronting up to developments.
March 9 - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound describes Sharapova's actions as "reckless beyond description".
March 10 - Sharapova's racquet manufacturer Head says it will stand by the Russian.
March 12 - Sharapova insists that contrary to media reports, she had not received five separate warnings about changes to anti-doping rules. "I should have paid more attention to it. But the other 'communications'? They were buried in newsletters, websites, or handouts," the Russian star said. "I guess some in the media can call that a warning. I think most people would call it too hard to find."
March 15 - United Nations suspends Sharapova as a goodwill ambassador.
March 24 - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says 123 cases involving meldonium recorded since the endurance-boosting drug was banned on January 1.
April 13 - WADA says athletes could escape a ban for taking meldonium because it does not know for sure how long it takes the substance to leave the body.
April 14 - Russian President Vladimir Putin declared athletes' use of the performance-boosting drug does not constitute doping.
May 26 - Named on Russian Olympic tennis team
June 7 - Sharapova earned $21.9 million (19.2 million euros) over the past 12 months, down almost $8 million from the previous year, according to Forbes Magazine.
June 8 - Banned for two years by ITF, Sharapova announces she will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Five facts on meldonium, the substance which brought down Maria Sharapova:
- Meldonium is also known as mildronate or mildronats.
- It is used to treat heart problems and diabetes
- It was only added to the WADA banned list at the start of 2016.
- The drug is manufactured in Latvia and exported to Russia. It is not approved for use in the United States
- Meldonium can increase an individual's capacity for physical exertion and, according to WADA, it was outlawed in sport "because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance".
(With inputs from agencies)
Published Date: Jun 08, 2016 23:15 PM | Updated Date: Jun 08, 2016 23:15 PM