The president of the Russian Tennis Federation plans to include Maria Sharapova in the country’s Olympic team if she avoids a ban for her positive test for banned drug meldonium.
Sharapova tested positive for the substance in January and was provisionally suspended on March 12.
The five-time grand slam champion is awaiting the outcome of an anti-doping committee hearing, which was held last week, with a four-year ban the maximum possible punishment.
Most anti-doping experts think a more likely ban is between six to 12 months, which would start from the date of her provisional suspension, so her Rio 2016 hopes may be forlorn.
The Russian Tennis Federation needs to name its team by June 16 and, with Sharapova’s punishment likely to be confirmed before then, the 29-year-old will know for sure whether she will be heading to Brazil.
But RTF president Shamil Tarpishchev, speaking to R-Sport news agency in Russia, says Sharapova “has been put on our Olympic application”.
Russia have included Maria #Sharapova in Olympic tennis team despite the player being suspended over positive test for banned drug meldonium— Sky News Newsdesk (@SkyNewsBreak) May 26, 2016
Tarpishchev added: “We will include Sharapova in the team. Whether she competes or not should be decided by the end of the first week of Roland Garros.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency only added meldonium to its list of banned substances at the start of 2016 and recently gave those athletes who had since failed tests a lifeline with the admission it was unclear how long the substance took to clear the body.
That applied to competitors who said they had used meldonium only before it was added to the WADA list, however Sharapova has not indicated she stopped using the substance before January 1.