Kolkata: A five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova who is on the verge of ending her ban for fifteen months has had to face some criticism from her counterparts in the game. Due to this, Russian tennis coach Shamil Tarpishchev slammed those critics who took a dig at the tennis ace. In recent times, the grave offence of doping has heavily affected the reputation of Russia and the punishment associated with it is very well known to the nation. Russia is facing stern punishment in athletics due to doping issues. The International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) recently confirmed that Russia could not participate in the 2017 London World Championships due to their doping ban.
Sharapova will return to the sport on April 26 in Stuttgart and is expected to play in the French Open though that would only be possible if the organisers hand her a wild card at Roland Garros. Sharapova has won the French Open twice and this may make way for her getting a wild card this year. This however didn’t go down well with French tennis player and World Number 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who said, “I would not do it. It’s like if you give a sweet to a kid who did a bad thing, the kid’s going to do it again.” Tsonga simply believes that Sharapova shouldn’t get a Paris Invitation.
Reacting to this comment, Tarpishchev didn’t hesitate to take a dig at Tsonga. He said, “It wasn’t a smart move from him (Tsonga) to comment on Maria’s situation.” He further went on to openly support Sharapova by saying, “Sharapova has no relation with doping whatsoever. Furthermore, it was proved meldonium is not doping, it’s a prohibited drug.”
Earlier when Sharapova failed the dope test, she did accept that it was her mistake for taking the banned drug. She said, “I made a huge mistake. I let my fans down. I let my sport down that I’ve been playing since the age of four that I love so deeply.”
(With inputs from PTI)