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Russian tennis chief: Sharapova to be on Olympic roster, but can be replaced if ineligible

May 26, 21:30 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian tennis star Sharapova, currently suspended over doping abuse accusations, has been included in the country’s national Olympic roster for the 2016 Games in Rio
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© EPA/SERGEI ILNITSKY

MOSCOW, May 26. /TASS/. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, currently suspended over doping abuse accusations, has been included in the country’s national Olympic roster for the 2016 Games in Rio, but will be replaced in case she is still ineligible to play, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) told TASS on Thursday.

"We will include her in the roster," Shamil Tarpishchev, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said in an interview with TASS. "If she will be unable to participate we will replace her with the following player in the ranking list."

In early March, Sharapova told a news conference in Los Angeles that her doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug meldonium in the body system. Following the announcement, former World’s No. 1 was suspended from all tennis-related activities.

A decision regarding her sports career in view of doping accusations is yet to be made by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Tribunal.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced on April 13 that the concentration of less than one microgram of meldonium in the body system of an athlete, whose doping tests were conducted before March 1, was acceptable.

The ITF announced last month that the Tribunal would take into account recent recommendations made by WADA while reviewing Sharapova’s doping-abuse case.

The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by WADA from January 1, 2016. The presence of the meldonium substance in the athlete’s blood during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules. The substance belongs to S4 class on the WADA blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators).

Meldronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without doctor’s prescription.

The Russian Tennis Federation announced on Wednesday that besides Sharapova three more Russian female tennis players will be on the team’s roster for the Olympics in Brazil, namely Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavliuchenkova and Darya Kasatkina.

In line with the regulations, the roster of the national tennis players selected for the 2016 Olympics must be submitted before June 6.

Tarpishchev said earlier in the month that the issue of Sharapova would be decided during the French Open tournament, which runs between May 16 and June 5.

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