Cape Town - Tennis star Maria Sharapova could be back on the courts as early as January, it was revealed on Monday.
Sharapova was suspended for two years following a failed drug test where she tested positive for meldonium during the Australian Open in January earlier this year.
The five-time grand slam winner claimed she did not know meldonium had recently been added to the banned substance list.
Sharapova appealed the sentence and the Court for Arbitration for Sport revealed the case will be heard on September 19.
If successful, the ban could be reduced to one year.
"Everything will be decided in September," Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev told TASS website.
"It is impossible to say for certain but I think she will start playing again by January."
Tarpishchev added that the current bans on Russian athletes have only made them stronger and they will bounce back.
"We all remember what happened with the Russian team before the Olympics," he said.
"Despite the upheavals of life, we are doomed to success. The worse it gets, the angrier we become, we unite.
"I am sure there will come a time when we become leaders in sport. Russia has already done more than it could in the given circumstances. My heart is breaking - not all athletes are here in Rio, moreover, the issue of Paralympic athletes is still open."