Maria Sharapova’s racket sponsor Head’s chief executive has backed the decision by French Tennis Federation (FFT) to not give her the wildcard for the upcoming French Open. At the same time, he has blamed World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the start of the whole mess.
Johan Eliasch, chief executive of tennis racket firm Head, has previously been critical of including meldonium as a banned substance and he further emphasised that point in light of the announcement made on Tuesday. The Swedish billionaire said the FFT decision was a result of WADA’s poor decision to ban the substance without any tests. “I fully support the grand-slam tournament’s decision,” Eliasch told The Times. “I don’t think there should be wild cards for doping offenders… What also disappoints me is the fact that WADA has not conducted their business properly. What I think is still very wrong is the fact that WADA has been allowed to enforce the rule without any form of evidence or clinical testing. If WADA is to have any credibility, they have to stick to their own rules,” he added.
A WADA spokesperson said the organisation had followed all due procedures and processes before including the substanace to its banned list. “The Wada List Expert Group undertook a very thorough consultation process in 2015. Following this process, it was determined that meldonium was being used by athletes with the intent of enhancing performance. Meldonium met the required criteria to be added to the list — this included evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance… It remains on the prohibited list,” he told the newspaper.
Sharapova failed to qualify for the French Open after not accumulating enough points and rising in the rankings at the Porsche Grand Prix – where she was given a wild card. She’s qualified for the Wimbledon qualifying rounds but can still be handed a wild card when the decision is made on June 20.