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Court Reduces Sharapova's Doping Ban From Two Years To 15 Months

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova

The doping ban imposed against Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has been reduced from two years to 15 months.

The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport means Sharapova will be allowed to return to the court professionally in time to compete in Grand Slam tournament play in April at the French Open.

Sharapova hailed the decision as one the "happiest days" of her life. "I'm coming back soon and I can't wait!" she said on Facebook. "Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court."

Sharapova tested positive for the use of the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

The five-time Grand Slam champion and the world’s former number-one-ranked tennis player appealed to the court in June -- acknowledging that she took meldonium but arguing that she wasn’t aware it had become a banned substance at the start of 2016.

The court's October 4 ruling said Sharapova "bore some degree of fault" for the positive test, and said a 15-month sanction was "appropriate."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP