Tuesday 23 January 2018

Russian tennis boss expects Maria Sharapova to play at Rio and slams drug test as 'nonsense'

Maria Sharpova won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London
Maria Sharpova won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London

Jack de Menezes

Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev says he expects to see Maria Sharapova compete at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio after describing her positive drug test for meldonium as “nonsense”.

Sharapova has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation [ITF] for testing positive for the banned substance at the Australian Open in January. Having taken meldonium to treat her health issues for the best part of a decade, Sharapova did not discover that it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s [Wada] banned substances list on 1 January 2016, having overlooked an email from Wada that detailed the performance enhancing drug.

The 28-year-old revealed on Monday night that she accepts the finding of meldonium in her sample and takes “full responsibility” for the failed drug test, with the ITF provisionally suspending her from 12 March pending an investigation.

However, Russian Tennis Federation president Tarpishchev claimed that the decision to ban Sharapova was “a load of nonsense” and made the bold statement that he expects to see Sharapova represent Russia in Rio later this year, despite the tennis star expected to receive a one-year ban from competition.

"I think this is just a load of nonsense,” Tarpishchev told the Tass news agency. "The sportsmen take what they are given by the physiotherapists and by the doctors.

"I think Sharapova will play at the Olympics. However, we will need to see how this will develop."

Sharapova claimed that she has taken meldonium legally since 2006 after a family-approved doctor prescribed her the drug, having suffered from “several health issues going on at the time.”

She added: “I was getting sick very often and I had a deficiency in magnesium, irregular [electrocardiogram] results and a family history of diabetes, with the first signs of diabetes. That is one of the medications, along with several others, that I had received.”

Sharapova has already had her $70m contract with sportswear giants Nike suspended while watchmaker’s Tag Heuer have abandoned negotiations with Sharapova to extend their sponsorship deal, having been in talks to continue the contract that expired on 31 December 2015.

Independent News Service

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