ITF Responds to Maria Sharapova – Statement Released

Maria Sharapova’s suspension was reduced to 15 months earlier this week. The ITF responded to her and her lawyers.

The International Tennis Federation released a statement to Press Association Sport earlier this week regarding Maria Sharapova, her recent comments in an interview with PBS, and the Russian’s reduced suspension. Sharapova recently claimed that the ITF “wanted four years” for her suspension instead of the 15 months she is expected to now serve.

“I got a 24-month suspension, but they (the ITF) wanted four years for me,” Sharapova said in an interview with PBS.

The statement that the ITF released in response included the following remarks:

“The ITF did not ‘try to ban Ms Sharapova for four years’. The ITF took the position that it is the independent tribunal’s responsibility to determine what the appropriate sanction should be.

“This included the decision as to whether Ms Sharapova met the requirements set out in the tennis anti-doping programme – which are the same as those in the WADA code – for a reduction from the default four-year suspension for the use of a non-specified substance such as meldonium.

“The members of the independent tribunal, which consisted of a barrister as chairman and medical and scientific experts as co-members, are appointed by the ITF.

“However, Ms Sharapova’s legal team was given the opportunity to object to any member of that tribunal, and they agreed in writing that they had no such objection.”

Sharapova is expected to return to tour in time for the 2017 French Open. However, admission into the event will not be straight forward. By the time Sharapova’s suspension is over she’ll have zero ranking points and she will be dependent on Wild-Card entries to get into significant events.

But as the most marketed female athlete of modern times, Sharapova is incredibly likely to be awarded Wild Cards for whatever event she wants to enter. The Russian is a major ticket seller that no tournament organizer that is interested in gate revenue or TV revenue is going to pass up on. Look for Sharapova to get her way when she returns to playing tennis which, at this point, looks to be in May of 2017.


Shane Lambert