Tennis star Maria Sharapova has found herself in the middle of a war of words with the International Tennis Federation. The ITF has fired back at her after she made claims in connection with the 15-month doping ban that she received. She reportedly said that she was targeted to be made an example of due to her prominence.
On Tuesday, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) finally released a verdict on Sharapova’s doping ban. Following her appeal, an initial 24-month ban was reduced to only 15 months. She was handed the 2-year ban after she tested positive for meldonium in the Australian Open in January. After the decision was finalized, Sharapova’s camp still had some choice words for the ITF.
According to the BBC, Sharapova’s lawyer, John Haggerty said: “Not only did the tennis anti-doping authorities fail to properly warn Maria, if you compare what the ITF did with how other federations warned athletes of the rule change, it’s a night and day difference.”
In a statement, the ITF refuted Haggerty’s claims. “The ITF believes that the appropriate steps were taken to publicise the changes to the 2016 Prohibited List,” read the statement.
“Nonetheless, the ITF has reviewed, and will continue to review, its processes for communicating changes to the Prohibited List to players with the aim of ensuring that no player can claim that they had not been fully informed.”
The ITF also hit back at Sharapova’s claim the it was unfair for them to ask for a 4-year ban and that she was targeted due to her prominence. “The WADA monitoring program is conducted anonymously, so even WADA itself does not know the names of athletes using the substances being monitored.”
While the feud goes on, Maria Sharapova will be returning to the tennis court even earlier than April 2017. Despite still sitting out her doping ban, the New York Post reports that she has been confirmed to participate in a charity event at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on Monday.
Other participants in the event are tennis legends John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and Andy Roddick.