Maria Sharapova banned for 24 months after failed dope test

Russian world number one Maria Sharapova was handed a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation

Russian world number one Maria Sharapova was handed a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday following her positive test for prohibited drug meldonium at this year’s Australian Open.

“An Impartial Tribunal made under Post 8.1 of the 2016 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Post 2.1 of the Programme and as a consequence has disqualified the impacted results and imposed a period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on 26 January 2016,” the ITF said in a statement.

Sharapova, the world’s highest-paid female athlete, surprised the sporting world when she announced that she had tested positive a drug she stated she had been taking for ten years to treat diabetes and reduced magnesium, for meldonium.

Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances from the beginning of the year after signs that it improved blood flow and increased athletic performance.

While other brands like Porsche and Nike distanced themselves from her with Sharapova, its ties reduce on after her entry.

The ban means she will miss this year’s Wimbledon championships, the title she won as a teenager to launch her career into orbit in 2004, and the Rio Olympics.

At the time, Sharapova, the highest-profile tennis player to fail an anti-doping test, insisted she'd created “a tremendous blunder” blaming her failure to read a message sent by the ITF that meldonium were added to the WADA listing.

Sharapova has 35 WTA singles titles and has won all of the Athletics' grand slam titles.

Her career gains amount to $36 million while her off-court earnings, based on Forbes, remain $200 million.