Tennis player Maria Sharapova formally filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday, the organization that presides over global sports disputes in Lausanne, Switzerland has announced.
Sharapova has asked that her two year suspension for a positive test (confirmed by her admission of consumption) of the banned substance Meldonium be eliminated, or in the alternative reduced, in the CAS.
In its release, the CAS says that “The parties have agreed to an expedited procedure which will allow the CAS to render a decision, at the latest, on 18 July 2016,” which would be roughly two-and-a-half weeks before the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Sharapova was named to the Russian tennis team for the Olympics, with an option to replace her depending on the outcome of these CAS proceedings.
This holds a relevance to swimming as Sharapova’s countrymate, World Champion swimmer Yulia Efimova, is still left in limbo as to her punishment for the same substance. Unlike Sharapova, Efimova did not admit to taking the substance after it became outlawed on January 1, 2016, and instead is relying on the defense that the substance lingered in her system when taken before it was outlawed – a defense that the World Anti-Doping Association has accepted if the substance returns a very small concentration from tests early in 2016.
Efimova’s temporary suspension was lifted by FINA, the world governing body for swimming, in late May, though she has still not raced in the time period since then. That doesn’t mean, however, that she’s been formally cleared of any wrong-doing in the case, at least not in any public forum, by FINA or WADA. The last word from FINA was to clarify that “this case is not closed” and would be considered by the FINA Doping Panel.
Still, Sharapova’s appeal, which took her over a week to file, will still leave a very small window for error in order to have a resolution before the Olympics, which indicates that Efimova’s timetable is even tighter. Before she is able to file any potential appeal, the FINA Doping Panel will have to rule. If we take Sharapova’s as the timeline for an expedited process with the CAS, then this would leave about 10 days for FINA to have a decision if the goal is to seek resolution before Rio.