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Swiss sports court puts Sharapova out of Rio

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, said on Monday it has put back its ruling on the two-year doping ban for Maria Sharapova for two months to September, ruling the tennis superstar out of the Rio Olympics.

Swiss sports court puts Sharapova out of Rio
In March Maria Sharapova announced she had failed a drugs test. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP

The 29-year-old Russian tested positive for the banned medication meldonium during January's Australian Open, in a severe blow to her reputation.
   
If the ban — which Sharapova has called “unfairly harsh” — is upheld it would almost certainly end one of sport's most celebrated and high-profile careers.
   
“Maria Sharapova and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have agreed to defer the CAS decision until September 2016,” said a CAS statement.
   
“Due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts, the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal.
   
“A decision is expected to be issued by September 19th, 2016.”
   
The original ruling was expected by July 18th, with Sharapova hoping that a successful appeal would have allowed her to spearhead the Russian tennis team in Rio.
   
Russia's participation at the Games, which begin on August 5th, is already under fierce scrutiny after its track and field team was banned for separate state-sponsored doping.
   
The Russian tennis federation chief said Sharapova's absence in Rio would badly dent their medal hopes.
   
“(It is) a serious loss for our team at the Olympics as we counted on her medal in women's singles,” TASS news agency quoted Shamil Tarpishchev as saying.
   
Sharapova's ban was backdated to January 26th this year, when she tested positive for the prohibited substance.
   
Meldonium was added to the world anti-doping WADA list on January 1st.

Sharapova said she had been taking it for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.
   
The CAS statement added: “In her appeal to the CAS, Ms Sharapova seeks the annulment of the (ITF) tribunal's decision to sanction her with a two-year period of ineligibility further to an anti-doping rule violation.
   
“Ms Sharapova submits that the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced. The final decision will be announced and published by CAS when it is available.”

'Huge mistake'

The former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion, who is based in the United States, told a packed press conference in Los Angeles in March that she had failed a dope test at the Australian Open and admitted making a “huge mistake”.
   
“I let my fans down. I let my sport down that I've been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply,” added Sharapova, her voice wavering.
   
“I know that with this, I face consequences and I don't want to end my career this way — and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.”
   
Sharapova burst onto the international scene as she giggled and grunted her way to the Wimbledon crown in 2004.
   
She won the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.
   
Her ferocity on the court, business acumen and glamorous looks have all combined to make her a marketing juggernaut and the overseer of such successful ventures as her Sugarpova line of candy.
   
She has 35 WTA singles titles and more than $36 million in career earnings.

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DRUGS

Switzerland green lights recreational marijuana trial

Switzerland’s National Council has approved a plan to start cannabis trials for recreational use. If it is to be legalised however, the government says it must be organic and grown locally.

Switzerland green lights recreational marijuana trial
Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP

The study, which was approved by the National Council on Tuesday, hopes to find out more about the effects that a controlled legalisation of the drug would have in Switzerland. 

The decision to embark upon the trial was to be made in March but was delated due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The experiments are to be carried out in Switzerland’s larger cities. Basel, Bern, Biel, Geneva and Zurich have all expressed interest in conducting the trials. 

The study wants to understand how the market for cannabis works – and how to combat the black market. The social effects of legalisation are also set to be studied. 

“The models must be tested before starting the debate on whether or not to liberalise cannabis,” said Pierre-Yves Maillard (Social Democrats), a spokesperson for the responsible committee. 

Only people who currently use cannabis – and can prove it – will be allowed to participate. Proof will be determined through a hair sample. 

‘Organic and Swiss’

Although legalisation is not a foregone conclusion, the National Council added that if cannabis was to be legalised it must be locally grown in Switzerland – and must be organic. 

Minister of Health Alain Berset said that a legalisation should benefit Swiss farmers even though “very few producers have experience in this area”, Berset said. 

200,000 cannabis users in Switzerland

An estimated 200,000 people smoke cannabis products in Switzerland. Those in favour of the new trial argue that this shows the war on drugs has failed – and that legalisation will 

Since 2011, the sale of cannabis products containing up to one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the ingredient that makes users high – has been legal in Switzerland.

Regular strength cannabis and other associated products such as hashish are also illegal, although small amounts (less than ten grams) are decriminalised and will only attract a 100 franc on-the-spot fine. 

A poll by the World Health Organisation showed that more teenagers smoked in Switzerland than in any other European country, with 27 percent of 15 year olds having smoked at least once. 

The use of cannabis for medical purposes is also heavily restricted in Switzerland, with only one product – CBD oil – legally available for sale. 

 

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