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Federer backs Sharapova ban

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Maria Sharapova is not getting much sympathy from the tennis world after her two-year ban for testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

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Wednesday’s 33-page judgement cleared Sharapova of intentionally breaking anti-doping rules by taking the recently-banned drug but strongly criticised her for failing to check it was no longer legal.

It also painted a damning picture of an athlete who had been taking as many as 30 different pills at one point in her career without fully explaining to the authorities when she was taking them and why.

Sharapova is appealing the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), calling it “unfairly harsh.”

But that doesn’t wash with Roger Federer, who said she is responsible for her actions.

“It doesn’t matter if they did it on purpose or not, I don’t really see the difference,” Federer said.

“You need to know what goes into your body, you have to be 100 per cent sure of what’s going on. If you’re not, you’re going to be damned.

“I stay by my word that we should be saving blood samples for 10, 15, 20 years to come, so you have to scare away the people who think they could cheat.”

Sharapova is not eligible to return to competition until January 26, 2018, and Britain’s former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray – mother of Andy Murray – has told the BBC that it would be “very difficult” for Sharapova to return to the sport three months before her 31st birthday.

“You can continue to train, to keep fit but losing match fitness … that’s what helps you win,” said Murray.

PA

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