Sharapova’s two-year ban slashed to 15 months, can play in April 2017

London [England]: Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova can return to the sport in time for next year’s French Open after the Court of Arbitration reduced her two-year doping ban to 15 months on appeal.

Earlier in June, the 29-year-old was handed a two-year suspension by the International Tennis Federation after being tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open.

“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,” the Guardian quoted a statement from CAS. “The panel wishes to point out that the case it heard, and the award it has rendered, was only about the degree of fault that can be imputed to the player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product that she had been taking over a long period remained in compliance with the anti-doping rules.”

Meldonium was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency this year. The five-time Grand Slam champion, however, said that she had been taking the drug since 2006 legally for years due to health concerns.

She had then appealed against the ban saying she given an “unfairly harsh suspension” when it was announced by the ITF in June.

Sharapova’s suspension is backdated to 26 January 2016, the day she failed the drug test after losing to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. With the latest ruling, the Russian will be eligible to play again on 26 April next year. (ANI)