Sharapova’s absence has negative impact on tennis: Vesnina

Moscow: The absence of Maria Sharapova at major tournaments has a negative impact on the world of tennis, Russian Olympic Champion Elena Vesnina has said.

The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday reduced to 15 months Sharapova’s two-year suspension, which came into effect on January 26. Sharapova is now eligible to officially return to tennis courts starting April 26 next year, reports Tass.

“This is definitely a good news,” Vesnina said on Tuesday.

“We are badly missing Maria in the tournament race because she is a tennis player of a very high level.”

“It would have been unfair to hand over a lengthy suspension term for such weak (performance enhancing) medication,” she added.

“We do all understand that she violated regulations, doping is doping, but giving two-year suspension is undoubtedly a very strong punishment.”

Sharapova filed an appeal with the CAS on June 9 against her two-year suspension, which was officially confirmed on June 8 by the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) tribunal over anti-doping violations.

Due to the ban, former World No.1 Sharapova had to miss the 2016 Rio Olympics in August.

In early March, Sharapova announced that her doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug Meldonium in her body system.

Following the announcement, she was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities.

Meldonium is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without a doctor’s prescription. It was put on the WADA’s list of banned substances only on January 1, 2016.