So Maria Sharapova's worst nightmare came true.
The ITF has banned her from playing tennis for two years, after the 29-year-old tested positive for the controversial banned medication meldonium during January's Australian Open.
Sharapova, on her part, said on Wednesday she will appeal the two-year doping ban handed down to her by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for doping and which threatens to end her career.
WHO HAS SAID WHAT ABOUT THE BAN
Independent Tribunal, in their ruling conclusion:
"The contravention of the anti-doping rules was not intentional as Ms Sharapova did not appreciate that Mildronate contained a substance prohibited from 1 January 2016. However she does bear sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault, in failing to take any steps to check whether the continued use of this medicine was permissible.
"If she had not concealed her use of Mildronate from the anti-doping authorities, members of her own support team and the doctors whom she consulted, but had sought advice, then the contravention would have been avoided. She is the sole author of her own misfortune."
Here's Sharapova's reaction to what she called was 'an unfairly harsh' ban. Suffice to say, she's not pleased. Not one bit.
Maria Sharapova’s Tennis Suspension Is for Two Years, - 2 years-yikes- it will be hard to come back from this... https://t.co/QuJO2PStuq— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) June 8, 2016
FROM TESTING POSITIVE TO THE BAN: A COMPLETE TIMELINE
Jan 26 - Sharapova loses to old rival Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-finals. AGAIN!
March 7 - Sharapova calls press conference at a Los Angeles hotel where she reveals that after her loss in Melbourne she tested positive for meldonium, a substance placed on the WADA banned list at the start of the year.
March 8 - Nike, Tag Heuer and Porsche halt their lucrative relationships with Sharapova.
March 9 - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound describes Sharapova's actions as "reckless beyond description".
March 12 - Sharapova insists that contrary to media reports, she had not received five separate warnings about changes to anti-doping rules.
"I should have paid more attention to it. But the other 'communications'? They were buried in newsletters, websites, or handouts. I guess some in the media can call that a warning. I think most people would call it too hard to find."
March 15 - United Nations suspends Sharapova as a goodwill ambassador.
April 13 - WADA says athletes could escape a ban for taking meldonium because it does not know for sure how long it takes the substance to leave the body.
April 14 - Russian President Vladimir Putin declared athletes' use of the performance-boosting drug does not constitute doping.
June 7 - Sharapova earned $21.9 million (19.2 million euros) over the past 12 months, down almost $8 million from the previous year, according to Forbes Magazine. Overtaken by Serena as the richest female athlete in the world.
June 8 - Banned for two years by ITF, Sharapova announces she will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
SO, WHAT IS THIS MELDONIUM?
Five facts on meldonium, the substance which brought down Maria Sharapova:
- Also known as mildronate or mildronats, it is used to treat heart problems and diabetes
- It was only added to the WADA banned list at the start of 2016.
- The drug is manufactured in Latvia and exported to Russia. It is not approved for use in the United States
- Meldonium can increase an individual's capacity for physical exertion and, according to WADA, it was outlawed in sport "because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance".
With AFP inputs