Maria Sharapova was notified on June 8, 2016, that she will be suspended for two years. The female athlete was banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The Russian tennis player tested positive for using drugs to increase performance.
Meldonium, the drug the Russian player tested positive for, is prohibited “because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”, as written in the World Anti-Doping Code. The drug is marketed for the treatment of cardiac issues.
After the ITF made the announcement, ended Sharapova’s agony about not knowing her future in tennis since January.
Sharapova’s Problems Started at the Beginning of 2016
Sharapova’s problems started in January 2016 when she failed a drug test during the Australian Open. In March, she had been provisionally banned, and now she received her verdict.
Sharapova, the richest female athlete of the decade, has been also excluded from the Russian Olympic tennis team. As a result, the 28-year-old player will no longer go to Rio de Janeiro, for the August 2016 Games.
The female athlete has not made any statements yet. She intends to appeal the decision, as she declared on her Facebook page minutes after the ITF announced the verdict.
Innocent but Still Guilty
Though the ITF found that Sharapova had not intentionally broken the anti-doping rules, the tennis player is responsible for not noticing the drug that has been added to the banned list. The decision about the drug was communicated to the players electronically and Sharapova had not consulted the ITF website lately to obtain additional information.
The tribunal also mentioned that the athlete had hidden her use of the drug. Previously, though, Sharapova has said that she had been using Meldonium since 2006 because of some health concerns, including the possibility of having diabetes.
Biggest Sponsors Are Not Leaving Her Side
Despite the fact that Sharapova has been suspended for two years, some of her biggest sponsors decided to stick with her. The Russian athlete’s racket sponsor, Head, has always supported her in spite of the accusation.
Nike will continue to support the tennis champion, although it suspended their contract, that is estimated at $12.5 million per year, in March 2016, after she admitted being tested positive. Nike has reconsidered the contract taking in consideration that the ITF Tribunal has found that the player did not intentionally break the rules.
Other Deals Are on Hold
However, other sponsors have postponed their contracts with the Grand Slam champion after Sharapova was suspended for two years. Tag Heuer, the watchmaker, announced that it would not be signing a new contract with the tennis player any time soon.
In March 2016, Porsche shelved its deal with Sharapova, when she was first suspended. The company added that all the activities will be on hold until the final decision, after the Russian’s appeal.
On the other hand, Evian’s opinion is still expected. The brand has not made any statement about discontinuing its sponsorship with Sharapova.
Sharapova’s Ban Is Not a Singular Case
Sharapova’s suspension is not a singular case. She is not the first athlete to be taken out of a sport for doping. Next to her, the names of Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, and LaShawn Merritt sit proudly on the Wall of Shame.
The Russian player is expected to return in tennis in 2018. However, her appeal may change the final decision so a complete statement is expected.
By Bianca-Ramona Dumitru
Edited by Cathy Milne
BusinessInsider.com: Some of Maria Sharapova’s biggest sponsors are saying they’ll stick with her despite her 2-year tennis ban
Eonline.com: Maria Sharapova Suspended From Tennis For 2 Years: 8 Athletes Who Has Similar Scandals
Yen.com: Maria Sharapova banned for two years for doping
Image Courtesy of Johan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License