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Russian Tennis Chief Expects Sharapova To Play In Olympics

Sharapova Says She Failed Drug Test At Australian Open
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WATCH: Sharapova Says She Failed Drug Test At Australian Open

The head of Russian tennis says he expects Maria Sharapova to represent her country at this year’s Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Shamil Tarpishchev made the comment on March 8, a day after Sharipova was provisionally suspended from the game after testing positive for a banned substance.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova said on March 7 that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open in January because of a substance, meldonium, that she has been taking for health issues.

The drug is used to treat diabetics and those with low magnesium, and some researchers have linked it to increased athletic performance and endurance.

It was only banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as of January 1.

"I think this is just a load of nonsense," Tarpishchev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, said in an interview with 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."

Nike, the world's largest sportswear maker, said it was "saddened and surprised" by the news and released a statement saying it was putting ties on hold with the player.

Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer announced on March 8 that it was dropping its sponsorship of Sharapova.

The 28-year-old Sharapova will be provisionally suspended starting March 12, the International Tennis Federation said.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and Reuters

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