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The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has banned Maria Sharapova for two years for using prohibited drug meldonium.

Maria Sharapova was provisionally banned in March after testing positive for meldonium at January’s Australian Open.

Meldonium, a heart disease drug, which 29-year-old Russian says she has been taking since 2006 for health issues, became a banned substance on January 1, 2016.

The five-time Grand Slam winner said she “cannot accept” the “unfairly harsh” ban – and will appeal.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Maria Sharapova will challenge the suspension, which is backdated to January 26, 2016, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In a statement, Maria Sharapova said the tribunal concluded her offence was “unintentional” and that she had not tried to use a “performance-enhancing substance”.

However, she claimed the ITF had asked the tribunal to impose a four-year ban, adding it “spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules”.

The tribunal ruling said Maria Sharapova tested positive for meldonium in an out-of competition test on February 2, as well as in the aftermath of her Australian Open quarter-final defeat by Serena Williams on January 26. It treated both results as a single anti-doping violation.

The ITF will not appeal against the tribunal’s decision.

Nike, which suspended its relationship with Maria Sharapova in January, said it would “continue to partner” the Russian, based on the tribunal’s findings.

Maria Sharapova was Forbes‘ highest-paid female athlete for 11 consecutive years, until Serena Williams moved above her in 2016.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said in April that scientists were unsure how long meldonium stayed in the system, and suggested athletes who tested positive before March 1 could avoid bans, provided they had stopped taking it before January 1.

Maria Sharapova had already admitted she continued taking the substance past that date, saying she was unaware it had been added to the banned list as she knew it by another name – mildronate.

In reaching its verdict, the ITF recognized Maria Sharapova had not intentionally broken anti-doping rules, as she did not know that mildronate contained a banned substance from January 2016.

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Maria Sharapova’s sponsors have moved quickly to distance themselves from the tennis champion after she admitted failing a drug test.

Nike has suspended its relationship with the five-time Grand Slam tennis champion, while Tag Heuer has cut its ties.

The sportswear giant said it was “saddened and surprised” at Maria Sharapova’s admission that she tested positive for a banned substance at the Australian Open in January.

The former world No 1 said she had been taking meldonium since 2006, on the advice of her family doctor.

Photo Facebook

Photo Facebook

Maria Sharapova, 28, is one of the highest paid female athletes with earnings of over $30 million 2015 from winnings and endorsements.

In addition to the moves from Nike and Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer, automaker Porsche said it was “postponing planned activities” with Maria Sharapova until the situation became clearer.

Maria Sharapova’s relationship with Nike dates back to when she was 11 years old.

The sportswear giant said: “We have decided to suspend our relationship with Maria while the investigation continues.

“We will continue to monitor the situation.”

In 2010, the Russian tennis player signed a new eight-year contract with Nike worth $70 million as well as a cut on sales of her own branded clothes.

Tag Heuer was in talks to extend its deal with Maria Sharapova, which ran out at the end of last year.

The Swiss watchmaker said those talks had now been suspended and the company had decided not to renew the contract.

In 2014, Porsche named her as its first female ambassador and she signed a three-year deal with the car company.

That contract is due to end at the end of this year.

In a statement, the carmaker said: “We are saddened by the recent news announced by Maria Sharapova. Until further details are released and we can analyze the situation, we have chosen to postpone planned activities.”

Maria Sharapova is also the face of Avon perfume, Luck, and the water company Evian. They have yet to comment on the matter.

She tested positive for meldonium, a substance she said she had been taking since 2006 for health issues.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said Maria Sharapova would be provisionally suspended from March 12.

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World number one Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova to win her sixth Australian Open and 19th Grand Slam title.

Serena Williams, 33, served to win a pulsating final 6-3 7-6 (7-5) after Maria Sharapova fought back in the second set.

The American moves past Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with a 19th major singles title.

Serena Williams has now beaten Maria Sharapova, the world number two, 16 times in a row dating back to 2004.

“I have to congratulate Maria, she played a wonderful match and she really pushed me,” said Serena Williams.

“She played so well and gave me a great final not only for the fans, but for women’s tennis. I’m really honored to play her in the final.”

Despite feeling so unwell during a rain delay in the first set that she left the court to vomit, Serena Williams hit 18 aces and 38 winners as she won in one hour and 51 minutes.Serena Williams Australian Open 2015

Seemingly unsure for a moment that an ace had sealed victory, she then shook hands with Maria Sharapova and bounded over to the corner of Rod Laver Arena towards her player box.

It was a brilliant performance in a final that exceeded many expectations, bearing in mind the players’ head-to-head record.

Maria Sharapova made a nervous start, double-faulting to drop serve in game one, while Serena Williams appeared keener than ever to shorten the points, possibly because of her ailment.

The American crushed the Russian’s second serve and was not disrupted by a 12-minute rain break that led to the roof being closed.

Still feeling the effects of a heavy cold that has dogged her over the last week, Serena Williams headed off court – in contrast to Maria Sharapova – but the top seed returned at the potentially dangerous score of 3-2, 30-30, to calmly produce an ace and a forehand winner.

Breaks of serve were swapped before Serena Williams took the set in 47 minutes with a backhand and a scream.

Maria Sharapova was looking at another one-sided defeat when facing break points early in the second, but showed why she is a five-time Grand Slam champion.

She served her way out of trouble and managed to cling on in a set in which Serena Williams hit 15 aces and won almost 90% of first-serve points.

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Serena Williams won a second French Open title 11 years after her first with a convincing win over defending champion Maria Sharapova.

World number one Serena Williams, 31, was pushed at times but took control midway through the first set, winning 6-4, 6-4, in one hour and 46 minutes.

Serena Williams has now claimed 16 Grand Slam singles titles, moving her to within two of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who have 18 each.

With an unbeaten run that stands at 31 matches, Serena Williams will be strongly favoured to add to that tally at Wimbledon next month.

“Today, when I won, I was trying to win the French Open. I wasn’t trying to get to number 16,” said Serena Williams.

“I think it’s really special. I feel like I definitely want to continue my journey.”

Maria Sharapova had come into Saturday’s final promising to “try something different” after failing to beat Serena Williams in their last 12 matches, stretching back to 2004.

Key to the Russian’s hopes was defending a serve that has been plagued by double faults in recent times.

At 0-40 in the opening game, things already looked bleak for Maria Sharapova, but she dug in and fired down an ace and one terrific second serve as she saw off four break points.

The second seed took that momentum into the following game to break the mighty american serve, and looked well set in the next at 40-15 – before Williams sparked into life.

A heavy forehand winner helped her back into the game and when she thumped away a smash on break point, Serena Williams let out a “come on!” that was the equal of Maria Sharapova’s early efforts.

Serena Williams won a second French Open title 11 years after her first with a convincing win over defending champion Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams won a second French Open title 11 years after her first with a convincing win over defending champion Maria Sharapova

Four games in a row put Serena Williams in command at 4-2, but Maria Sharapova showed the grit that has taken her to four Grand Slam titles as she battled her way back to 4-4 in some fierce baseline exchanges.

With the pressure on, Serena Williams raised her intensity still further and produced the kind of hitting that even Maria Sharapova cannot live with, forcing the Russian into a forehand error in game nine before serving out the set after 51 minutes.

That was five minutes longer than Sara Errani had managed to delay Serena Williams in their entire semi-final, and Maria Sharapova continued to cling on gamely.

She saved five break points in a gripping first game of the second set but, unable to trouble Serena Williams’ serve, she found herself under pressure again moments later.

Serena Williams proved just how much she has improved her movement on clay as she slid out wide for one defensive backhand on the way to breaking in game three, and she would not relinquish the advantage.

The 15,000 spectators in the main Chatrier stadium cheered Maria Sharapova as she held serve from 30-30 with defeat looming, but she was not about to be given a reprieve by her opponent.

Serena Williams demonstrated once again that her serve is the best shot in the game, firing down an ace to secure the title and dropping to her knees in celebration.

Maria Sharapova said: “She played a great match. She played strong, she played deep, served really good; served better than I did. She took her chances.”

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Maria Sharapova has been slammed and branded “irresponsible” for releasing Sugarpova, a line of high-sugar sweets.

Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova range comes in 12 different flavors and has an average of 84 g of sugar per bag – the equivalent of 21 teaspoons or two cans of Coca Cola.

Russian tennis ace Maria Sharapova, who is currently in Australia for the Australian Open, has been criticized by child psychologists for the “inappropriate” launch of a “playful” and “flirty” junk food line that is particularly targeted towards young girls and women.

A website mission statement from the brand reads: “Sugarpova is a premium candy line that reflects the fun, fashionable, sweet side of international tennis sensation Maria Sharapova.

“Maria has created her own candy business to offer an accessible bit of luxury, interpreting classic candies in her own signature style.

“A long time candy lover with a surprising sweet tooth, Maria is bringing a new level of quality to the candy category through fun, unexpected types and shapes – with playful names to match. Wrapped up in a beautiful package, it’s both style and substance, just like founder Maria Sharapova.”

Maria Sharapova, ranked number two in the world, says: “I’ve always had a sweet tooth. And I am not exaggerating one bit. My earliest memory of candy is being a little girl back in Russia and asking my parents for a lollipop after a good practice on the tennis court. It was that little treat I looked forward to. And here I am many years later hoping to get a sweet treat after a good practice.”

Maria Sharapova has been slammed for releasing Sugarpova, a line of high-sugar sweets

Maria Sharapova has been slammed for releasing Sugarpova, a line of high-sugar sweets

The sweets come in 142 g bags, filled with an average of four servings of five sweets – but it would take an extraordinary amount of self-control for most people to stick to a meager five.

Each “serving” contains 120 calories and approximately 19 g of sugar, the equivalent of five teaspoons or half a can of Coke.

Perhaps more pertinently, each bag – which costs $5.99 and is currently only available in the US – is packed with some 480 calories and 80 g of sugar – in some cases as many as 84 g, the equivalent of 21 teaspoons or two cans of full-fat Coca Cola.

Corrina Langelaan, campaigns manager for The Parents’ Jury, an Australian organization which campaigns for responsible advertising and promotion of food, told Australian news website news.com.au: “Maria Sharapova is a hugely influential athlete, admired by parents and children alike.

“She has a role to play in promoting healthy lifestyles and, with childhood obesity on the rise globally, spruiking a confectionary range smacks of irresponsible marketing.”

Jeff Rubin, who created the brand with Maria Sharapova, said that athletes marketing “healthy” and “organic” sweets was misleading, because the athletes themselves eat sugary snacks.

Speaking to The Candy Industry, he said: “For me, someone who’s been going to over 20 years of candy shows, we see different athletes at every show, selling an organic version of something or a healthy version of something or a natural version of something, when we all know that they all have sweet tooth and what they really love is gummies and sour.”

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US champion Serena Williams couldn’t hide her glee after storming to Olympic victory against Russia’s Maria Sharapova and celebrated with a crip walk.

After routing Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1, Serena Williams showed off some impressive dancing skills on Wimbledon’s grass centre court.

“I don’t think I’ve ever danced like that,” Serena Williams said.

“I don’t even know where the dance came from.”

However, Serena Williams certainly had plenty to dance about – today’s medal was her first Olympic gold in a singles match and means she has achieved a career Golden Slam.

Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova easily and finished off the match by serving two aces. She jumped for joy before performing her little victory dance as her sister, Venus Williams, watched on grinning.

“I didn’t think it could get better than winning Wimbledon,” Serena Williams said as she came off the court.

Serena Williams wins first singles Olympic gold after beating Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams wins first singles Olympic gold after beating Maria Sharapova

In an incredible display of prowess, Serena Williams served three aces in the opening game, broke Maria Sharapova’s serve in the second game before racing on to win the match.

Serena Williams, the fourth seed, beat the third-seeded Russian on the same Centre Court where she took home her fifth Wimbledon championship last month.

Since losing to a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova at the 2004 Wimbledon final, 30-year-old Serena Williams has now beaten Sharapova eight consecutive times.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have won all four Grand Slam titles during their careers but both were going for their first Olympic gold in singles today.

Serena Williams is scheduled to play a doubles semifinal match with her sister Venus on Saturday. The two won Olympic doubles gold in 2000 and 2008.

“Whether I win or lose, that’s not the big deal,” Serena Williams said before today’s game. She defeated world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.

“The big deal for me, USA is guaranteed another medal. I’m guaranteed to just go out there tomorrow and have fun. That’s all I can do.”

Roger Federer, who has won 17 majors, also has a chance at a career Golden Slam when he plays for the gold against Andy Murray on Sunday. He beat Juan Martin del Potro in the longest best-of-three set match of the Open era, at 4 hours, 26 minutes, while Murray ousted Novak Djokovic.

“Roger, me and Maria. The odds are good,” Serena Williams said about the opportunities to get a career Golden Slam. Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the London Olympics because of a knee injury, won all four Grand Slam titles as well as Olympic gold in different years.

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Maria Sharapova blasted her way to victory over Italian Sara Errani in the French Open final to become only the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam.

Maria Sharapova, 25, claimed a one-sided 6-3 6-2 win to add to the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open titles from earlier in her career.

The Russian overwhelmed her Italian opponent, who was playing in her first Grand Slam singles final.

Maria Sharapova’s run in Paris has also moved her top of the women’s rankings.

At a time when the women’s game is lacking a dominant and consistent figure, Maria Sharapova provided more evidence that she is capable of filling that vacuum.

Since she was last world number one in June 2008, the top ranking has been held by eight different players and changed hands on 15 occasions, while the last six Grand Slams have been won by six different women.

Maria Sharapova blasted her way to victory over Italian Sara Errani in the French Open final to become only the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam

Maria Sharapova blasted her way to victory over Italian Sara Errani in the French Open final to become only the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam

Maria Sharapova, who has battled back from shoulder surgery that threatened her career and severely disrupted her serve, produced a display of power and precision which will now see her head into Wimbledon as a strong favourite.

She and Sara Errani had never met before and, while the Russian was the clear favourite, her opponent posed a threat having won three clay court tournaments coming into the French Open.

But the Italian had her first two service games broken and struggled to handle the power of her opponent’s game.

The Russian had lost her last two Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the Australian Open but was clearly determined not to slip up again.

Sara Errani engineered a break back to register her first game but it was a temporary reprieve as Maria Sharapova claimed a third set point with a backhand down the line.

Maria Sharapova broke to love at the start of the second set and despite Sara Errani drawing cheers from the crowd with some adventurous shotmaking, it was not enough to disrupt the second seed.

Sara Errani had won the women’s doubles title with Roberta Vinci on Friday and, after her semi-final win over Samantha Stosur, said she had to start showing greater belief against more illustrious opponents.

But the Bologna-born right-hander rarely looked like she thought she could overcome Maria Sharapova and after wasting a break point in game four, she was broken again in game five.

Maria Sharapova set up her third match point with a magnificent running forehand winner up the line, and converted it when Sara Errani sliced a tame backhand into the net.

It was her first Grand Slam title since the 2008 Australian Open and she sunk to her knees in celebration.

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