Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova has been provisionally named in the squad of her country for the forthcoming Rio Olympics. Earlier, Russian Tennis Federation president, Shamil Tarpishchev, said he expected the tennis star to represent her country in Rio and branded the positive test as 'nonsense'.
Tarpishchev, the International Olympic Committee member and president of the Russian Tennis Federation, said we will include Sharapova in the team, which we need to announce by 6 June. Tarpishchev added whether she competes or not should be decided by the end of the first week of Roland Garros.
Sharapova was included in the team alongside Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Daria Kasatkina. Her place in the team will be taken by Ekaterina Makarova, the fifth-ranked Russian woman if she is not able to compete.
In March, the five-time Grand Slam champion was handed a provisional suspension from the sport after she admitted testing positive for the banned substance Meldonium at this year's Australian Open. The recently-banned substance was placed on the banned list by the World Anti-Doping Agency this year.
In her press conference in March, Sharapova admitted she had been taking Meldonium since 2006 legally for years for health reasons. The Russian professional tennis player, who is ranked world No. 9 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), admitted she had been given a medicine called Mildronate by her family doctor and a few days ago after she received the ITF letter she found out that it also has another name of Meldonium which she did not know. She added it is very important for all to understand that for 10 years this medicine was not on WADA's banned list and she had legally been taking the medicine for the past 10 years but on January 1 the rules had changed and Meldonium became a prohibited substance which she had not known. Maria said she was using the drug because of a family history of diabetes and an irregular heartbeat.
A disciplinary hearing has been scheduled in her case with a ruling possible before Wimbledon starts.
Recently, Sharapova’s lawyer John Haggerty slammed the World Anti-Doping Agency when the agency ssaid it was unsure how long the banned substance can stay in the body. Haggerty remarked the fact WADA felt compelled to issue this unusual statement now is proof of how poorly they handled issues relating to Meldonium in 2015. The lawyer added given the fact that scores of athletes have tested positive for taking what previously was a legal product, it’s clear WADA did not handle this properly last year and they’re trying to make up for it now.
In another development, former US tennis star Pam Shriver has predicted that Maria will escape a maximum four-year ban after failing a drugs test. Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek program, Shriver said given her record of never failing a test before, she is sure the lawyers and everybody are going to provide enough strong evidence that she did not take this medication as a performance-enhancer.