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Maria Sharapova Suspended 2 Years For Doping ... Vows to Fight It

6/8/2016 8:12 AM PDT

Maria Sharapova Suspended 2 Years For Doping ... Vows to Fight It

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Maria Sharapova was just hit with a TWO YEAR BAN by the International Tennis Federation for doping ... but she claims it's "unfair" and vows to appeal. 

The ITF just issued a statement saying Sharapova's urine tested positive for meldonium -- a metabolic modulator that's prohibited in the sport. 

The ITF says it cut Sharapova a break when it comes to the punishment because she "promptly admitted" to the offense. Instead of starting the 2-year ban today, they will backdate the suspension to January 26 -- the date of the sample collection.

The ITF also ruled that her results at the 2016 Australian Open should be disqualified -- and she must forfeit her ranking points and prize money that she won at that event.

For her part, Sharapova says she did NOT intentionally use the substance -- and wants her fans to know she should not be considered a cheater.

"The ITF spent tremendous amounts of time and resources trying to prove I intentionally violated the anti-doping rules and the tribunal concluded I did not," Sharapova said in a statement.

"You need to know that the ITF asked the tribunal to suspend me for four years – the required suspension for an intentional violation -- and the tribunal rejected the ITF’s position."

Sharapova says she will fight the decision -- "I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension ... I will immediately appeal the suspension."

"I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible."

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