Tennis legend Maria Sharapova may have come clean with investigators when she tested positive for doping in January, but she still found herself on the receiving end of a harsh penalty from the International Tennis Federation today.
Sharapova has officially been banned from all ITF-sanctioned competitions for two years.
Due to the fact that she "promptly admitted" to violating federation rules, Sharapova was given a slight break by the ruling committee, who decided to backdate her suspension.
As a result, her two year-ban officially began on January 26 (the day her urine sample was collected), rather than today.
Regardless, Sharapova says she is outraged by the decision and plans to appeal.
"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," she said in a statement issued moments ago.
"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.
"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."
In the meantime, Sharapova may be spending a good amount of time in a different kind of court, as her appeal will likely result in a months-long legal battle.
Sharapova tested positive for Meldonium a prescription medication which has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency's "banned" list for several months.
The 29-year-old star says she was not aware of the ban, and was taking the drug due to a magnesium deficiency.
Investigators say she was warned about the medication on several occasions.
Sharapova's situation has drawn comparisons to that of bicyclist Lance Armstrong, another beloved athlete whose legacy was tarnished by a highly-publicized doping scandal.
Like Armstrong, it's unlikely that Sharapova will be able to convince the public or the powers that be in her sport to see things from her perspective.