EFIANT Russian Olympic team bosses have provisionally named Maria Sharapova in the country’s tennis squad for the Rio Games.
Sharapova is serving a suspension pending the outcome of a tennis anti-doping committee’s hearing of her meldonium positive case, which took place last week.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) would have the right to take any penalty on Sharapova they did not like to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Russia’s former world No. 1 has been told to expect a verdict next month and she hopes to be free of suspension in time to compete at Wimbledon, which starts on June 27.
Meldonium, a Latvian-produced drug that can boost stamina and endurance for sport, was added to WADA’s list of banned substances on January 1 and Sharapova said she had been taking it for multiple health benefits when she tested positive to it later that month.
A glut of meldonium cases has created a headache for anti-doping regimes in many sports with national interests working towards an August deadline imposed by the timing of the Olympics.
A Russian news agency reported Sharapova would be nominated one of four female players to compete in the women’s singles for the Olympics in August.
In March, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpishchev said he expected Sharapova to play at the Olympics because the positive test was “nonsense’’, adding athletes were entitled to take what they had been given by doctors.
WADA president Craig Reedie said this week 47 of 49 analytical findings for Russian doping samples in the six since last November months had been meldonium was detected in their system.
WADA said last month that doubts over how long meldonium stayed in the body meant athletes who had tested positive for it before March 1 could have their bans overturned.
Reedie said the drug, which Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova told a news conference she had used for health reasons after she failed a drugs test earlier this year, was responsible for 47 of the 49 adverse between November 2015 and May 2016.