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Maria Sharapova faces hearing in doping case as Russian officials work to clean up scandal

Maria Sharapova faces hearing in doping case as Russian officials work to clean up scandal
Maria Sharapova speaks about her failed drug test during a March 7 news conference in Los Angeles. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Maria Sharapova could receive a ruling on her doping case in the next two or three months -- before Wimbledon and the 2016 Summer Olympics -- the International Tennis Federation confirmed Wednesday.

News of Sharapova's imminent disciplinary hearing came on the same day Russian officials announced new measures to have a ban on their track-and-field program lifted.

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The program was sanctioned last year after a World Anti-Doping Agency report alleged systemic cheating among officials, coaches and athletes.

The Russian Ministry of Sport said all track-and-field athletes intending to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be tested a minimum of three times before the Games in August and that WADA may nominate two international anti-doping experts to be stationed full time in Moscow to oversee the changes.

"This is an important step in our journey," Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the Associated Press.

As for Sharapova, she was provisionally suspended earlier this year and has acknowledged testing positive for meldonium, a heart medication recently added to the list of banned substances.

The ITF said such cases are typically adjudicated within two to three months, but it would not provide a hearing date. Russian officials have remained optimistic that Sharapova can regain eligibility in time for the Olympics.

Earlier this week, the parliament in another country beset by scandal -- Kenya -- passed a bill that criminalizes doping. The legislation was aimed at ensuring that the Kenyan team will be allowed to compete in Rio.

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