Maria Sharapova: Tennis Star's Return In Sight After Drugs Ban Cut

Tennis star Maria Sharapova
Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova in Moscow, February 6. Sharapova's doping ban has been cut to 15 months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty

Maria Sharapova will be free to compete in three of 2017's four Grand Slams, after the tennis star's ban was shortened by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Sharapova, 29, can return on April 26 after her two-year ban for a positive meldonium test was cut to 15 months on Tuesday.

The five-times Grand Slam winner was among 99 positive tests for the drug that was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, 2016. Meldonium, invented and manufactured in Latvia, is used as a treatment for heart disorders and was banned by WADA on the basis that athletes were taking it with the intention of enhancing their performances.

The Russian tested positive for the substance on January 26 at the Australian Open, with another positive sample taken on February 2 in Moscow. Sharapova took the unusual step of announcing her own violation at a press conference in Los Angeles on March 7.

A hearing held on September 7 and 8 found that Sharapova had a reduced liability for the anti-doping violation because she had been prescribed Mildronate (meldonium's trade name) by a doctor for medical reasons, rather than to enhance performance.

The ruling also found "no specific warning about the change in status of meldonium" from WADA, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) or Women's Tennis Association (WTA).

CAS' decision means Sharapova, a former world number one, will be free to compete at the 2017 French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.