Maria Sharapova just got one of the best early birthday presents ever.
Thanks to a ruling by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) that reduces her ban from tennis for doping, she'll be able to compete after midnight on April 25, 2017, just before the French Open and a week after she turns 30.
Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium, a heat medication that was just banned by antidoping regulators at the Australian Open in January. She told the public of the violation a few months later. However, she claimed that her violations had been accidental.
Sharapova's original ban would have seen her absent from the sport until the beginning of 2018.
In June, the International Tennis Federation agreed her violation was accidental, saving her from a four-year suspension by the federation. Instead, they imposed her original two-year ban.
However, an appeals panel at CAS determined that while the onus was on Sharapova to comply, evidence that the violation was accidental was convincing. Her sentence was reduced today.
Maria Sharapova's ban reduced by 9 months.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 4, 2016
Sporting cheats prosper once again.
Where's the disincentive?
Not everyone is so excited she'll return to the court next year.
The best part for Sharapova is probably the redemption of her reputation in the eyes of sponsors. Sharapova helped advertise for brands such as Nike, Porsche, and TAG Heuer, among others.
Nike issued a statement congratulating Sharapova, writing in a statement, "We are pleased that Maria will be back playing the sport she loves in April and look forward to partnering with her and enjoying her continued success on and off the court."
Porsche is also planning on discussing a partnership with Sharapova in the future, according to the New York Times
Sharapova regularly posts photos on Instagram with her brands.
WADA respects all decisions taken by CAS, the highest independent sport tribunal which has the jurisdiction to determine sports-related appeals.
The World Anti-Doping Agency released a statement on the reduction this afternoon.
For more news, check out today's 60 Second Circa.