Three months after Maria Sharapova revealed she failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open, her suspension has been announced. And it's a big one: The five-time grand slam champion was suspended two years by the International Tennis Federation.
On Wednesday, the ITF released a statement on Sharapova's suspension, which will be back-dated to January 26, when the sample was collected.
Camp Sharapova was ready with its own statement on the matter, which the Russian posted on Facebook.
Sharapova is arguing that she took the banned substance meldonium (also known by its trade name of Mildronate) because she was unaware that it was banned by the ITF. The ITF doesn't dispute this. The tennis star notes that the drug, which is typically given to individuals with heart problems, is available over-the-counter in some parts of Europe
Meldonium was a permitted substance in professional tennis until it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency at the start of 2016. Sharapova shows that in the overview of the case, the ITF had told her a suspension of four years would be handed down if they found Sharapova's use of the drug to be intentional.
Per the statement: "Any suspension of two years or less completely clears Ms. Sharapova of having any intent to enhance her performance with Mildronate and proves her anti-doping violation was unintentional."
Sharapova posted a photo of the ITF's conclusion, which explains that Sharapova's use of the drug "was not intentional, as Ms. Sharapova did not appreciate that Mildronate contained a substance prohibited from 1 January 2016."
But the conclusion also maintains that "She does bear sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault, in failing to take any steps to check whether the continued use of this medicine was permissible. If she had not concealed her use of Mildronate from the anti-doping authorities, members of her own support team and the doctors whom she consulted, but had sought advice, then the contravention would have been avoided."
Sharapova says she will appeal the suspension. The 29-year-old currently stands as the WTA's second-highest earner of prize money.
Since her failed drug test was announced, Sharapova has seen sponsors TAG Heuer, Nike and Porsche suspend or postpone relationships with her. Despite not playing most of this season, Sharapova is currently ranked No. 26 in the world.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.