>> A stiff punishment for a tennis great. Maria Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam champion given a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday after testing positive for meldonium at this year's Australian Open. The drug was added to the list of banned substances in January after evidence that it boosted blood flow and enhanced athletic performance.
Sharapova taking to her Facebook page describing the punishment as unfairly harsh. Reuters Bill Bolton has more on the story.>> Well it's come out that she's been banned now for two years, so the next stage for her is what she's already said. Straight off the back of this and that she will be applying to the court of arbitration for sport to try and get that ban overturned.
Now there is some evidence to backup her case while I've confirmed that the makers of the drug and there's not enough scientific to prove how long that it stays within the body. So she may have a case there with some of that evidence, but the findings today have said that she pretty much knew exactly what she was doing and she possibly believed that it had some sort of benefit on her energy levels and she used it when she was training.
And it was all to do, I think, with the timings of when she was taking the drug. But again pre-game, began to boost her energy levels.>> The 29 year old is the world's highest paid female athlete and one of the most high-profile athletes ever to fail a doping test.
Sharapova's career now hangs in the balance. Unless her ban is reduced, she will not be eligible to play until after the 2018 Australian Open. By that time she will be 30, considered an acceptable age to hang up the racket.>> I had failed a drug test at Australian Open.