Maria Sharapova speaks to the media announcing a failed drug test after the Australian Open during a press conference today at The LA Hotel Downtown. Mar 7, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA USA Today Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea

An International Tennis Federation tribunal has announced its decision to impose a 2-year ban on tennis star Maria Sharapova. Nike responded to the situation by releasing a statement that they will continue to sponsor her despite the current state of her tennis career.

Sharapova vs ITF: the details

In a press release by the ITF, Sharapova was found guilty of violating the Anti-Doping Programme. Sharapova, who submitted her urine sample a few days after the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, tested positive for meldonium use. The drug is known to be metabolic modulator. It was included in the 2016 WADA prohibited list, which was released on January 1.

According to ITF’s detailed version of the report, Sharapova was notified of her charge on March 1. Three days later, Sharapova replied to their notice by admitting that she is indeed using meldonium.

ITF’s report detailed that meldonium, also known as Mildronate, is one of the drugs recommended by Dr, Anatoly Skalny, who works with Sharapova’s frequent health issues. They were provided with detailed correspondence between Sharapova and her doctor wherein the nutritional regime was disclosed.

Sharapova had been taking meldonium since 2006. Aside from admitting to her use of the drug, Sharapova also responded by saying that ITF failed to notify her of the new prohibition. The tribunal ignored this argument.

Russia’s Sharapova was penalised by banning her from participating in her sport for two years. The duration of her ban is from Jan. 26 of this year, the day Sharapova submitted her urine sample, and will end at midnight of Jan. 25, 2018. Furthermore, her winnings, including prize money and ranking, from the Australian Open will be forfeited.

Nike will continue to sponsor Sharapova

Despite the Sharapova's meldonium use, Nike will continue to back her. In a statement released by Nike, it said that it will be waiting for Sharapova to return to court. It cited that Sharapova “did not intentionally break its rules,” and as such, the sportswear giant will continue to support her.

Nike, along with a number of Sharapova’s sponsors, suspended its partnership with Sharapova in May as a result of her announcement about the drug test. The company decided to standby, investigate and follow the case in light of her situation.

Sharapova’s other sponsors, like Tag Heuer and Porsche, have yet to respond to the tribunal’s ruling.

Sharapova to appeal length of ban

On Wednesday, Sharapova posted on her official Facebook page that even though she was penalised, the ITF tribunal “unanimously concluded” that her drug use was unintentional.

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova wrote. “I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

Sharapova further wrote that she had missed being grounded in the courts and playing her sport. She thanked those who supported her and told her followers that she will stand by her decision to win back her eligibility to play tennis.

Social media’s take on Sharapova’s suspension