Oct 06, 2016

    Sponsors hail Sharapova's reduced ban


    MARIA Sharapova's reduced suspension for a doping violation is set to provide a healthy boost to her bank balance with corporate sponsors reaffirming their commitment to the Russian player.

    The 29-year-old can return to the court next April after the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced her two-year ban by nine months on Tuesday.

    Sharapova's stunning admission in March that she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open, and her subsequent ban by the International Tennis Federation, saw a number of sponsors distance themselves from her.

    Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer cut ties with the former world number one while Porsche was among those to suspend their relationships with the Russian.

    However, in the wake of Tuesday's verdict, the German luxury carmaker confirmed it would discuss tie-ups with Sharapova.

    Nike, the world's biggest sportswear brand, initially suspended its partnership after her admission in March. But it said it would continue to work with the player after her two-year ban was announced in June.

    Mineral water brand Evian

    and racket maker Head, long-time backers, also released statements hailing the reduction.

    Head chairman and chief executive Johan Eliasch, a robust supporter of Sharapova throughout the scandal, said "justice"

    had been served.

    Sponsors' moves to rekindle their relationships with Sharapova were viewed dimly by some sports fans on social media.

    "So, boss of Head reckons drug taking is fine. Tennis is a mess with sponsors like this!" tweeted David Cooke (@hirsty9).