A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing into the two-year doping ban awarded to Maria Sharapova last month has been deferred until September, ending any faint hope of her competing at the Olympic Games.
The Russian was ruled out of action until January 2018 after being handed a backdated suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) last month following her positive doping test for meldonium.
Sharapova admitted to using the substance after it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, but claims she took it for health reasons stretching back to 2006.
This was disputed by the ITF Tribunal, however, who outlined its endurance-boosting effects.
They ruled that she was the "sole author" of her misfortune and bore "sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault".
She launched her appeal to CAS on the grounds that the Tribunal also concluded that her use of the product was "not intentional", with a verdict initially due by July 18.
"Maria Sharapova and the ITF have agreed to defer the CAS decision until September 2016," said a CAS statement today.
"Due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts, the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal.
"A decision is expected to be issued by September 19, 2016.
"On June 9 2016, Maria Sharapova filed an appeal against the decision issued on June 6 2016 by the Tribunal appointed by the ITF.
"In her appeal to the CAS, Ms Sharapova seeks the annulment of the Tribunal’s decision to sanction her with a two-year period of ineligibility further to an anti-doping rule violation.
"Ms Sharapova submits that the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced."
Heart-attack drug meldonium was added to the banned list at the beginning of the year after WADA claimed there was evidence that it was being used for performance enhancing purposes.
WADA admitted in April, however, that more research was required to calculate how long the product remains in the human body.
It was ruled that if below one microgram of meldonium was detected and the failed test came before March 1, a negligence or no fault verdict could be reached.
Since the ban was issued, WADA have announced even more lenient concessions in which athletes who returned a positive test for the heart-attack drug between January 1 and February 29 can also be given a “no fault” verdict if their sample contained less than five micrograms of meldonium.
The Tribunal dismissed Sharapova's claim that she was prescribed the drug by her doctor for health issues dating back to 2006, including magnesium deficiency, an irregular heartbeat and a family history of diabetes.
"The manner of its use, on match days and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels," they ruled, including a note from her doctor advising her to take pills before key matches and training sessions.
If the ban remains in place, she would be ruled out until shortly before her 31st birthday.