Maria Sharapova Criticizes ITF over Meldonium Suspension

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 10:  Tennis player Maria Sharapova competes during the World TeamTennis Smash Hits charity tennis event benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation at Caesars Palace on October 10, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
David Becker/Getty Images

Five-time major tennis champion Maria Sharapova questioned the lack of dialogue with the International Tennis Federation leading up to her 15-month suspension, which is set to conclude in late April, for meldonium.

Hardik Vyas of Reuters passed along comments Sharapova made to The Times about the situation. She accepted "fault" for the failed test, but still believes the ITF could have done more.

"Why didn't someone come up to me and have a private conversation, just an official to an athlete, which would have taken care of the confidentiality problem they talked about later?" she said.

Sharapova added: "Ultimately the fault was mine. I had been getting clearance on everything I was taking for seven years and I became complacent."

The 29-year-old Russian superstar originally received a two-year suspension following the failed test at the 2016 Australian Open. The Court of Arbitration for Sport later reduced the punishment to 15 months after an appeal hearing.

"The panel found that Ms. 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," CAS wrote in a statement.

The former top-ranked player in the world is scheduled for a return to competitive action at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, which begins April 26.

She told Greg Beacham of the Associated Press there will likely be a transition phase before she gets back to top form due to the lack of matches.

"In tennis, you lose a lot of hand-eye coordination," Sharapova said. "Practice is never the same as match play. It's really different to face someone on the other side of the net. It's a very different feeling."

Her return will come with just under a month to prepare for the season's second Grand Slam tournament, the French Open. The clay-court showcase kicks off May 22 in Paris.

 

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