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The world’s top female tennis player, Maria Sharapova has been suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following her use of the drug meldonium at the Australian Open.

In early March, the 29-year-old announced at a press conference in Los Angeles that she had failed a doping test in late January.

Sharapova claimed that she was not aware that the drug had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in early January, adding that she has been taking it since 2006 for health issues.

The five-time Grand Slam champion took to Facebook and said that she will appeal the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova said in a statement.

“The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” she added.

The decided ban on Sharapova not only causes her to lose all of her ranking points and prize money she earned in Melbourne, but may also potentially end her career as the world’s highest-paid female athlete.

(Photo source: Maria Sharapova’s Facebook)