Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been suspended for two years by an independent tribunal of the International Tennis Federation for testing positive for banned drug meldonium. The 28-year-old will appeal against the verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, The Associated Press reported.

ITF had suspended the former World No 1 provisionally in early March, after she announced at a press conference that she had failed a doping test in January, before the Australian Open. Sharapova had said she had been unaware that the World Anti-Doping Agency had barred athletes from using meldonium and that she had been taking the drug – also known as mildronate – for 10 years, as prescribed by her family doctor.

Though the tribunal agreed that Sharapova had not broken the anti-doping rules intentionally, they ruled that she did bear "sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault, in failing to take any steps to check whether the continued use of this medicine was permissible."

In a later statement, the Russian player stated that she would "immediately" appeal the suspension at the CAS. " I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension", said Sharapova. " 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"