MOSCOW: Russia have included Maria Sharapova in their Olympic tennis team despite the star player being suspended over a positive test for the banned drug meldonium, the country’s tennis federation said on Thursday.
“By the end of the first week of Roland Garros, the question of Sharapova’s participation at the Olympic Games should be resolved,” Shamil Tarpischev, the head of Russia’s tennis federation, told R-Sport news agency.
“She has been put on our Olympic application. It has to be submitted by June 6.”
Sharapova, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics, was suspended in March after she admitted she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January.
Since then, a string of high profile Russian athletes — including Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova — also tested positive for meldonium.
But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which had only banned the Latvian-made drug from January 1, said in April that athletes could escape a ban for taking meldonium because of uncertainty about how long it takes for the substance to leave the body.
Many athletes who had been suspended for testing positive for meldonium have since been absolved.
In April, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said that Sharapova’s case would be heard in accordance with WADA’s recommendations on how to deal with cases involving meldonium.
Russia is poised to send its four highest-ranked players to compete in the singles event at the Rio Olympics, which as of Monday were Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Ekaterina Makarova.
If Sharapova cannot compete, Tarpischev said, the team would select the fifth highest-ranked player in the WTA rankings, 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina.-APP