Maria Sharapova is not ready to lie down and take her two-year ban from playing international Tennis without a fight. It has been a “tough” time, she admitted when she posted that the ban was “unfairly harsh.” Her hearing for alleged doping by the ITF took place in a secret location back in May whilst she was already serving a provisional suspension from the game. The news released yesterday that she has been banned for a full two years has angered the tennis star, as, by their own admission, the ITF Tribunal agreed that she had not deliberately doped to unfairly improve her game.

Why the harsh ban?

The ITF was hell-bent on hammering the popular star into the ground, and they originally asked for a full four-year ban. It was in Sharapova's favor that the Tribunal rejected the four-year ban, but the two-year ban could lead to the end of the Maria’s tennis career. If, as the Tribunal agreed, she did not intentionally take the drug to enhance her performance, then why the harsh ban? Even in a court of law, intent or lack of intent is not to be taken lightly.

No intent to cheat proven.

As Maria’s legal team point out, while the ITF feel that Maria is solely responsible for getting into trouble over using meldonium, the tribunal acknowledges that any suspension of two years or less “clears her from having any intent to enhance her performance.” Therefore, the violation of the anti-doping rule was not intentional.

Maria to appeal.

Maria Sharapova is determined to appeal the decision by the ITF tribunal and will take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, (CAS). This move is an obvious one, but athletes cannot rely on the court to be any more forgiving than the ITF. German speed skater, Pechstein fought her case for seven years through the courts to try and clear her name, and she never even failed a drug test.

She was unfortunate to be one of the first athletes banned on a “biological passport.”

Loyal fans stand by her.

Sharapova is a highly popular tennis player, and hundreds of thousands of fans believe she did not try to cheat by taking the drug. There are always dissenters over the thorny issue of clean sport, but the loyal fans stand out.

Still a chance for Wimbledon.

If Maria does manage to get the ban reduced, there is still a chance she can play at Wimbledon next year, but for now, the Russian Olympics team'f hope that she could play at the Rio Olympics have been dashed. It does not look like Maria will just give up tennis, even if the ban is not reduced. On her Facebook page, she wrote about how much she misses the game and even more than that, misses her loyal fans. I have the “the best and most loyal fans in the world,” she wrote and she says she has read the letters from those fans. “Your love and support has gotten me through these tough days,” she concluded, before announcing that she has every intention to fight the ban so she can get back into the game.

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