MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. The head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) disagrees with reasons behind the French Open organizing committee’s decision to deny a wild card to Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, the official said in a statement posted on the WTA website Wednesday.
Sharapova, 30, came from a 15-months doping suspension last month and does not have enough ranking points to enter the main draw or the qualifying event of the tournament. According to organizers, a wild card can be handed to athletes who recover after injury, but not to those punished for doping abuse.
"Wildcards are offered at tournaments’ sole discretion," WTA CEO Steve Simon said. ""What I do not agree with is the basis put forward by the FFT (French Tennis Federation) for their decision with respect to Maria Sharapova."
"She has complied with the sanction imposed by CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport)," he went on. "There are no grounds for any member of the TADP (Tennis Anti-Doping Programme) to penalize any player beyond the sanctions set forth in the final decisions resolving these matters."
He also expressed his support for athletes, who received wild cards, and wished them luck. "It’s going to be a very exciting fortnight at Roland Garros," he added.
Early last year, Sharapova announced that doping tests revealed the presence of the banned performance enhancing drug, meldonium, in her body. Following the announcement, Russia’s most decorated tennis player was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities, including the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
She was initially set to serve a two-year suspension for violating anti-doping regulations starting January 26, 2016. However, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on October 4, 2016 to cut her suspension term from 24 to 15 months.
After sitting out the suspension, Sharapova made an impressive comeback last week at the tennis tournament in Stuttgart knocking out all of her opponents up to the semifinals. However, she had to withdraw from the second-round match against Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the Italian Open on Tuesday due to an injury to her left thigh.