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Maria Sharapova Suspended for Two Years

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Maria Sharapova failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January. After a hearing, the International Tennis Federation suspended her for two years. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports)
Maria Sharapova failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January. After a hearing, the International Tennis Federation suspended her for two years. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports)

Tennis star Maria Sharapova said she will appeal the two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation, or ITF.

The ITF said Sharapova was responsible for failing a test earlier this year for the banned drug known as meldonium. The usual suspension is four years, but the independent panel reduced it to two.

The panel said Sharapova was “the sole author of her own misfortune.” The suspension was reduced because it could not prove Sharapova intended to cheat.

Sharapova wrote on Facebook that “I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension.”

The five-time grand slam winner added that she “did not do anything intentionally wrong.” And she will appeal the ITF’s decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sharapova failed the drug test in late January while playing in the Australian Open. She was provisionally suspended right away, which means the soonest she will be allowed to play again is January 2018.

Meldonium is a drug made in Eastern Europe and popular with athletes from that part of the world. It is supposed to increase blood flow and helps athletes by carrying more oxygen to muscles.

Sharapova said she was taking a drug called Mildronate for over 10 years. But she did not know it was the same as meldonium. Meldonium was only banned from world tennis starting with the 2016 season.

Sharapova argued her case during a hearing in London in May.

The ruling prevents Sharapova from competing in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Russian Tennis Federation has already replaced her with another player.

About 200 athletes tested positive for meldonium this year. Many argued that the drug stayed in their system even though they last used it in 2015.

Earlier this year, the World Anti-Doping Association said some athletes who had tested positive might have their suspensions lifted if they could prove their last dose was in 2015.

But during the hearing, Sharapova’s lawyer said she did use the drug in 2016.

I’m Anna Mateo.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

How do you feel about Sharapova’s suspension? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section and on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

dose – n. the amount of medicine, drug or vitamin taken at one time

hearing – n. an opportunity to explain why you did, said or believe something

provisional – adj. existing or accepted for the present time but likely to change

panel – n. a group of people with special knowledge, skill or experience who give advice or make decisions

independent – adj. acting or thinking freely instead of being guided by others

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