Maria Sharapova may have been slapped with a two-year ban but at least she’s not left standing alone. In her battle against the suspension, she has lost the first set. However, Maria Sharapova is not alone in her appeal to repeal the ban.
Maria immediately took to Facebook to tell her fans that she will not merely accept the tribunal’s ruling for a two-year suspension despite findings that show Maria clearly did not do anything wrong.
Her major sponsors might be divided but there’s still quite a number willing to stake their brands on the Russian five-time Grand Slam winner.
Nike, which has had the 29-year-old as a brand ambassador ever since she was 11, stands by Maria Sharapova. The company has released a statement saying “The ITF (International Tennis Federation) Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules.”
Head, a leading racket manufacturer, meanwhile, blasted World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the meldonium ban. Head maintained that WADA wrongly imposed the ban. It said that basing on the number of athletes using meldonium rather than on scientific studies was an erroneous ground for the rule.
Evian also remained by Maria’s side, continuing their relationship with the tennis star, BBC reports.
While there are brands who stayed with Maria Sharapova, some also had doubts about continuing their relationship with the Russian athlete.
Tag Heuer has said it will have to take some time off their sponsoring relationship with Sharapova. Avon, on the other hand, denied any claims that the end of their contract with the brand ambassador was in relation to the suspension. Instead, they cited the sponsorship’s specified time frame as the reason for ending their contract.
Carmaker Porsche, meanwhile, has decided it will keep Maria’s commitments to them on hold while the appeal is ongoing, The Guardian notes.
As for the next steps, Maria Sharapova has the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The appeal will be made with the help of any of the three possible arbitrators: International Tennis Federation, WADA or International Olympic Committee.