Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Sharapova in Russian Olympic team despite ban

Maria Sharapova is banned from the international tennis circuit but is still on the Russian team sheet for the Olympics.

She has been named with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina while Ekaterina Makarova is on standby as a reserve for the team which is expected to be ratified this week.

"We will include Sharapova in the team," Shamil Tarpishchev, an IOC member and Russian Tennis Federation president said.

"Whether she competes or not should be decided by the end of the first week of Roland Garros."

Sharapova was banned after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open but hopes to win an Olympic reprieve after the World Anti-Doping Agency had a rethink.

Meldonium was added to WADA's list of banned substances in January and in March, Sharapova was suspended although the level of meldonium in her system was not revealed.

In a later twist, WADA announced that any athlete whose reading before March 1 showed less than one microgram of meldonium, would not be punished.

Another comment from Tarpishchev cast significant doubt on Sharapova getting an Olympic reprieve. He said her situation was "bad" and she may not play again.

- NZ Herald

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