Nike to resume work with banned Sharapova


Nike has announced plans to continue working with Maria Sharapova on the day the Russian was handed a two-year ban from tennis for failing a drugs test.

Former world number one Sharapova was provisionally suspended in March after being informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open in January, her sample showing positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova claimed she was unaware meldonium had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of prohibited substances on January 1, but Nike was one of a number of sponsors to subsequently distance themselves from the Grand Slam champion.

An independent tribunal on Wednesday imposed a two-year suspension on Sharapova, backdated to January 26, 2016 - the date of her positive test in Melbourne.

The 29-year-old announced she will lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but has been boosted by sportswear giant Nike confirming it will resume its professional relationship with the Russian.

"The ITF Tribunal has found that Maria did not intentionally break its rules," a Nike spokesperson said.

"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."