Nike to continue Maria Sharapova sponsorship

By BBC Sports

The sports firm Nike is to continue its sponsorship of Maria Sharapova, despite her being banned for two years for failing a drugs test.

The racket manufacturer Head also said it would stand by her, arguing that the International Tennis Federation (ITF) had made the decision based on a “flawed process”.

The Russian tennis player tested positive for the prohibited drug meldonium earlier this year.

She is appealing against the ban.

Following Sharapova’s admission in March that she had tested positive for meldonium, a heart disease drug which has only been a banned substance since 1 January 2016, Nike had initially suspended its relationship with her, saying it would monitor the investigation.

But on Wednesday the company said: “The ITF Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules.

“Maria has always made her position clear, has apologised for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban.

“Based on the decision of the ITF and their factual findings, we hope to see Maria back on court and will continue to partner with her.”

  

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