Former world number one and tennis commentator Chris Evert believes if the two-year doping ban stands and is not reduced it spells the end of Maria Sharapova’s playing career.
On Wednesday, the International Tennis Federation handed Sharapova a two-year ban for failing a drugs test.
The Russian was provisionally suspended back in March after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January, which officially became a banned substance on January 1 of this year.
Sharapova said on her Facebook page yesterday that she planned on challenging the ruling. The ban has been backdated to January 26 of this year, meaning that if her appeal fails, Sharapova won’t be able to return to tennis until January 26, 2018.
A little surprised it’s 2 yrs,but after reading the whole case, I understand. It’s a long time for MS to come back. https://t.co/Tll0H2jAFT
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) June 8, 2016
In an interview with USA TODAY Sports via phone, Evert said the length of the ban could be the end of the 29-year-old Sharapova’s career.
“I don’t think she can do a two-year ban. I don’t think she can come back,” Evert told USA TODAY Sports.
“The players are only getting better. The workload, the training is only harder. She has been on tour for 15 years. You just wonder.
“I would be very surprised. I would be surprised to see her come back,” she added.
Why did it take so long to ban meldonium? And, are there other drugs out there ( ped’s) that aren’t banned, like meldonium???Scary…
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) June 9, 2016
Another former world number one, Lindsay Davenport, felt the ban was fair as players are asked to list any drug they are taking which Sharapova failed to do.
“To me, her declaration forms would be huge in her innocence and intent,” Davenport said via an email. “As a former player who has filled out those forms many times, it clearly asks for everything that you put in your body, from Advil to vitamins to birth control to you name it.
“The fact that she never once wrote it down even though she tested positive multiple times in 2015 and twice in 2016 is very incriminating to me.”
Davenport agreed with Evert that if the ban stood then it was probably the end of Sharapova’s playing days.
“If the two years stands, I don’t think she will come back,” Davenport added.
Thinking about @MariaSharapova with today’s news. She accepted responsibility early on and that is a big part of her true character
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) June 8, 2016