A hearing has been scheduled in Maria Sharapova‘s doping case, with a possible ruling before Wimbledon begins. This year’s Roland Garros, of course, is out.
It’s a disciplinary hearing. International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty said Wednesday that the Tennis Integrity Unit typically takes ”two to three months” to process a case. That could deliver a verdict in June. Russian officials have stated that they want Sharapova to play at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
So far there are no details, including when and where the hearing will be held.
Sharapova was provisionally suspended after announcing on March 8th that she tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open last January.
The Russian said she had been prescribed the blood-flow boosting drug since 2006, and had been unaware the World Anti-Doping Agency had prohibited its use beginning January 1st. Some athletes among nearly 200 who have tested positive claim they had not taken the drug this year.
Sharapova will not have her provisional ban lifted pending the verdict, despite WADA publishing new guidelines to sports bodies last week amid uncertainty over how long meldonium remains in an athlete’s body. WADA said athletes who tested positive for meldonium before March 1st could avoid bans.
But the International Tennis Federation said Sharapova’s case will proceed. Will this be a truly independent hearing, or is the writing already on the wall?