The president of the Russian Tennis Federation Shamil Tarpishchev announced on Thursday that the former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova may never return back playing tennis again after testing positive for meldonium before the Australian Open in January.
According to report from BBC Sport, when the president of the Russian Tennis Federation was asked if the five-time Grand Slam winner would play another tournament, he answered the R-Sport news agency that Sharapova’s return was “very doubtful”, adding that she was in a “bad situation”.
When the news about Sharapova’s drug test first spread, Tarpishchev seemed to be defending her. But things have changed after more information were revealed regarding the incident.
“I think this is just a load of nonsense,” Shamil Tarpishchev told the Tass news agency, according to UK Independent. “The sportsmen take what they are given by the physiotherapists and by the doctors. I think Sharapova will play at the Olympics.”
Maria Sharapova admitted that she had continued to take meldonium, even though she has been receiving multiple email warnings that it had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substance for 2016. She reasoned out that she knew it by the name mildronate.
The five-time Grand Slam champion is facing a ban from international tennis of two to four years for the positive test depending on the nature of the situation. Maria Sharapova will be suspended for four year if it is proven that she took the drugs as performance enhancer. However, it could be reduced to two years if it was not intentional.
Another important thing that may be taken away from Sharapova is her chance to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After the International Tennis Federation suspended her on March 12, Sharapova said she was “determined to play tennis again.”
There are no specific details yet on when will Maria Sharapova be able to play tennis again. However, there is a possibility that she will only be suspended for six to 12 months because WADA acknowledged in April that it was unsure how long meldonium stayed in an athlete’s system.
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