Sharapova set to face panel in London

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Sharapova set to face panel in London

Maria Sharapova faces an anti-doping panel in London on Wednesday as she waits to discover if she will face a lengthy ban after testing positive to meldonium in January.

The 29-year-old stunned the tennis world in March when she announced at a press conference she had failed a doping test on January 26, the day she lost an Australian Open quarter-final to Serena Williams.

The maximum punishment available is four years but most anti-doping experts think a more likely ban is between six to 12 months.

Any ban for Sharapova would start from the date of her provisional suspension on March 12, so even a suspension at the lenient end of that range would see her miss the remaining grand slams this season, including Wimbledon.

Since Sharapova’s announcement there has been much debate about meldonium, but the Russian is unlikely to benefit from the recent confusion surrounding the drug.

The Latvian-made heart disease medication had only been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list on January 1 but had been on a watch list for over a year and all national anti-doping agencies were told in October that it would be banned.

With use of meldonium widespread across eastern Europe, Sharapova’s case was the most high-profile in an avalanche of positives in the first four months of the year.

As of early May, WADA said there had been 288 positive samples.

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