Russian tennis chief backtracks after Sharapova claims


Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) president Shamil Tarpischev had to backtrack swiftly on Thursday after suggesting Maria Sharapova's tennis career may be over.

Grand Slam champion Sharapova is provisionally banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open.

Meldonium was added to WADA's prohibited list at the start of the year, a move Sharapova claimed to be unaware of.

The former world number one is not expected to learn whether she will be handed a longer ban until June at the earliest, with the ITF considering WADA recommendations that "a lack of scientific information" means it is unclear how long meldonium remains in a person's system.

Regardless, RTF president Tarpischev gave a negative assessment on whether these recommendations could play into Sharapova's favour.

Asked about Sharapova's chances of returning to the WTA Tour, Tarpischev told R-Sport: "Very doubtful. Her situation is bad. Really."

However, Tarpischev swiftly attempted to downplay the severity of his earlier statement.

He told TASS: "I only said that she can't play now because no ruling on her case has been issued."

Sharapova reportedly faced a hearing in London on Wednesday. She could be banned for as much as four years if found to have deliberately doped.