Sharapova's ban reduced

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October 05, 2016
File Sharapova.

LONDON (AP):

Maria Sharapova will be eligible to return to competitive tennis next April after her two-year doping ban was reduced to 15 months yesterday by a sports court that found the Russian star bore no "significant fault" for her positive drug test and did not intend to cheat.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport cut nine months off the suspension imposed on Sharapova, who tested positive for the banned heart medication meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player, appealed to CAS in June seeking to overturn or reduce the two-year penalty imposed by the International Tennis Federation.

In a 28-page ruling , the CAS panel found that Sharapova bore "some degree of fault" but "less than significant fault" in the case that has sidelined one of the world's most prominent and wealthy female athletes.

INTENTIONAL DOPER

While Sharapova did commit a doping violation, "under no circumstances ... can the player be considered to be an 'intentional doper,'" the panel said.

Sharapova's ban, which took effect on January 26, was originally due to run until January 25, 2018. Now she can return on April 26, 2017.

"I've gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April," Sharapova said in a statement.

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