Maria Sharapova files appeal to Court of Arbitration for Sport over two-year ban

Maria Sharapova
Former world number one Maria Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam winner

Maria Sharapova has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) after being banned from tennis for two years for using a prohibited drug.

Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium at January's Australian Open, was last week suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The 29-year-old, a five-time Grand Slam winner, said in her appeal her ban should be "eliminated" or reduced.

Cas said it would rule on the Russian's case by 18 July.

A statement from Sharapova's lawyer said the ITF's tribunal reflected the player "did not intend to violate the rules".

It added she was given an "unfairly harsh suspension because she is such a famous athlete and they wanted to make an example out of her".

Sharapova says she has been taking meldonium, a heart disease drug, since 2006 for health issues. It became a banned substance on 1 January 2016.

She has admitted she continued taking the substance past that date, saying she was unaware it had been added to the banned list as she knew it by another name - mildronate.

The ITF tribunal ruling said Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in an out-of-competition test on 2 February, as well as in the aftermath of her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on 26 January.

It treated both results as a single anti-doping violation, with Sharapova's ban backdated to 26 January.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said it would "review the decision, including its reasoning" before deciding whether to appeal.

Aged 17, Sharapova became the first Russian to win Wimbledon, added the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008, before completing a career Grand Slam with the French Open title in 2012.

She won the French Open again in 2014, but the 2018 tournament in Paris is the next major Sharapova can enter, unless her ban is reduced.

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