Maria Sharapova, the former world tennis number one, was given a two-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance earlier this year. The International Tennis Federation (ITF), the world governing body, said in a statement that the ban would be backdated to January 26 due to the player’s “prompt admission” of her violation following a positive test for meldonium, a banned drug, at this year’s Australian Open tournament.
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The 29-year-old Russian – who had been provisionally selected to play at the Rio Olympics in August – intends to appeal against the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But in the likelihood that the ban remains in place, her prospects of reaching the standards that won her five grand slam titles will be seriously diminished by such a long absence.