Maria Sharapova ban a 'powerful' message, says Judy Murray

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova was Forbes' highest-paid female athlete for 11 consecutive years

Maria Sharapova's two-year drugs ban has sent a "powerful message" to drug cheats, according to former Great Britain Fed Cup captain Judy Murray.

The five-time Grand Slam winner has been banned by the International Tennis Federation for using a prohibited drug.

Murray told BBC Radio 5 live that Sharapova's punishment made it clear "that there's not going to be any hiding place for drug cheats".

Roger Federer said he supported a "zero tolerance" stance against doping.

Sharapova, 29, was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for the heart disease drug meldonium - which became a banned substance on 1 January 2016 - at this year's Australian Open.

Men's world number three Federer, who has won 17 Grand Slams, added: "It doesn't matter if they did it on purpose or not, I don't really see the difference.

"You need to know what goes into your body, you have to be 100% sure of what's going on. If you're not, you're going to be damned.

"Of course she's got the right to fight the case, like everybody else as well. I'm just for zero tolerance.

"I stay by my word that we should be saving blood samples for 10, 15, 20 years to come, so you have to scare away the people who think they could cheat.

"You have to scare them so they will not do it, so they could retroactively also be banned, and take away titles and so forth."

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Maria Sharapova reveals Australian Open failed drugs test

Sharapova has said she would appeal against the "unfairly harsh" ban.

Murray said it would be "very tough" for the Russian to return to the pinnacle of her sport following the conclusion of her ban.

"You can continue to train, to keep fit but losing match fitness... that's what helps you win," added Murray. "It will be very difficult for her to come back at 31, almost 32."

Sharapova's former coach, Gabe Jaramillo, said the player would be determined to ensure her career ended on a good note.

"She's so competitive and she's so smart that these two years or year-and-a-half, she's going to be working hard, she's going to stay in shape, she's going to be playing because she wants to come back," he said.

"She doesn't want to leave the game with this thing over her head. I bet you she wants to leave the game on a good note and she is going to try her best to get back there again and, if I have to bet, I would bet that she will make it again. Because she's not going to give up."

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