'CAS verdict proves ITF mishandled Sharapova's doping case'
Moscow, Oct 5 (IANS) The International Tennis Federation (ITF) handled Maria Sharapova's doping case very poorly and the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) decision to reduce her suspension has proved that, the Russian tennis star's lawyer John Haggerty has said.
"In sum, the CAS decision is a stunning repudiation of the ITF and it exposes the ITF decision for what it is: Pure Fiction," Haggerty said on Tuesday, reports Tass.
The Swiss-based CAS reduced Sharapova's two-year suspension, in effect from January 26, 2016, to 15 months on Tuesday.
Sharapova is now eligible to return to tennis courts starting April 26 next year.
"CAS striking down the ITF ruling is another in a growing list of cases where CAS has determined that the ITF tribunal's decision was wrong," Haggerty said.
"In fact, the last time CAS upheld an ITF ruling was way back in 2009. Clearly, the ITF tribunals are wrong far too often."
"And the really sad part about that here is that Maria was forced to live with the ITF's bad judgement and faulty conclusions for many months," he added.
"Hopefully, this CAS decision will be a wake-up call to future ITF tribunals. I am very glad Maria's suspension has been substantially reduced and that she will be back playing tennis in April."
"The ITF handled this matter poorly from start to finish. Maria took responsibility for her mistake."
"It's time for the ITF to take responsibility for its mistakes and change its procedures so that this can never happen to another player. Based on this ruling, the ITF has a lot to learn."
In early March, Sharapova was first to announce that her doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug Meldonium in her body system.
Following the announcement, the former World No.1 was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities.
Sharapova filed an appeal with CAS on June 9 against her two-year suspension, which was officially announced on June 8 by ITF's tribunal over anti-doping violations.
Due to the imposed ban Sharapova, the silver medallist of the 2012 London Olympics, had to miss the 2016 Rio Games in August.