A day after Maria Sharapova announced she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open and a handful of sponsors cut ties with the Russian tennis star, at least one person in Russia is convinced it is all nonsense and she will indeed compete at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro later this year.
Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev thinks that her positive drug test was “nonsense” and that Sharapova will indeed represent Russia in Rio, as noted by The Independent.
“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 admitted to testing positive for Meldonium at the Australian Open, and explained she had been taking the substance since 2006 to combat her “several health issues going on at the time.” For several years, the substance was not on the banned substance list used in tennis, but she was informed of a change to that list in 2015. The substance was added to the list this year, but she failed to read the memo.
Given the recent change to the legality of the substance Sharapova had been using for a decade, you can understand how Tarpishchev might feel this is nonsense. That said, Sharapova was informed of the change, and it was her fault for not noticing or recognizing the change went into effect. She only has herself to blame for her failed drug test.
Sharapova was issued a provisionary suspension of one year by the International Tennis Federation, which would cause her to miss the remaining three majors as well as the Olympics. There seems to be some cloudiness over what this means for her potential Olympics future, but it is clear her possible omission from the Olympics would be a tough blow for the Russian team heading to Rio. Sharapova won the silver medal in the women’s singles in London in 2012.