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Nike to continue Sharapova sponsorship despite ban

The career of Russian former world number one Maria Sharapova was in tatters on Wednesday after she was given a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following her positive test for the banned drug meldonium, but sponsor Nike said it would stand by her.

In a statement the ITF said the five-times grand slam champion's ban would be backdated to Jan. 26 this year, meaning her results and prize money from the Australian Open, where she reached the quarter-finals, would be cancelled out.

The ban will have an enormous impact on Sharapova's earning potential.


Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at the Australian Open at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles.
Getty Images
Tennis player Maria Sharapova addresses the media regarding a failed drug test at the Australian Open at The LA Hotel Downtown on March 7, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer cut its ties with Sharapova after the news of her doping violation while other sponsors such as Porsche distanced themselves from her.

Nike however, said on Wednesday they would continue to work with Sharapova.

"The ITF Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules," the sports apparel giant said in a statement. "Maria has always made her position clear, has apologized for her mistake and is now appealing the length of the ban."

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Reuters with CNBC.com