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Russian Tennis Star Sharapova Appeals Doping Ban

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova appealed her doping ban to the highest court in sports, which agreed to expedite a ruling before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

Sharapova filed an appeal on June 14 with the Court of Arbitration for Sport seeking to overturn or reduce a two-year suspension imposed by the International Tennis Federation last week.

The five-time Grand Slam champion tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January, taking it before each match at that tournament even though the substance was banned on January 1.

The court said both sides agreed to an "expedited procedure" enabling the court to rule by July 18. So if the suspension is thrown out, Sharapova would be eligible to compete at the Olympics.

Russia has already included Sharapova on its Olympics tennis team.

An independent three-person panel appointed by the federation said Sharapova did not intend to cheat because she didn't know meldonium was banned, but she bore "sole responsibility" and "very significant fault" for the positive test.

The panel also said various elements of Sharapova's case "inevitably lead to the conclusion" that she took the substance "for the purpose of enhancing her performance."

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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