Shara­pova tar­gets April re­turn

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ten­nis star Maria Shara­pova hailed the re­duc­tion of her two-year dop­ing ban on Tues­day as one of the “hap­pi­est days” of her life, im­me­di­ately tar­get­ing a re­turn to ac­tion in April 2017.

The Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport (CAS) cut Shara­pova’s ban to 15 months say­ing she was not an “in­ten­tional doper”, af­ter the 29-yearold tested pos­i­tive for the banned med­i­ca­tion mel­do­nium dur­ing Jan­uary’s Aus­tralian Open – throw­ing her glit­ter­ing, money-spin­ning ca­reer into se­ri­ous jeop­ardy.

“I’ve gone from one of the tough­est days of my ca­reer last March, when I learned about my sus­pen­sion, to now, one of my hap­pi­est days, as I found out I can re­turn to ten­nis in April,” said Shara­pova, who has racked up 35 WTA sin­gles ti­tles and more than earn­ings.

An April re­turn – the ban is back­dated to the pos­i­tive test in Jan­uary this year – means she would in the­ory be able to com­pete at the French Open in May-June next year.

Shara­pova, whose fe­roc­ity on court, busi­ness acu­men and glam­orous looks have all com­bined to make her a mar­ket­ing jug­ger­naut, was hit with a two-year ban by an in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal ap­pointed by the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion (ITF).

Re­duc­ing the ban af­ter she ap­pealed, the Lau­sanne-based CAS “found that Shara­pova com­mit­ted an anti-dop­ing rule vi­o­la­tion and that while it was with ‘no sig­nif­i­cant fault’, she bore some de­gree of fault, for which a sanc­tion of 15 months is ap­pro­pri­ate”. US$36mil­lion in ca­reer

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