Maria Sharapova not given wildcard to play at French Open

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Maria Sharapova has been suspended for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for banned drug meldonium.

Maria Sharapova will not play at the French Open after organizers did not grant her wildcard entry into the tournament, which begins later this month.

Sharapova recently returned from a 15-month doping ban after admitting she had used the banned hormone and metabolic modulator meldonium.

The drug was only banned at the beginning of 2016 but Sharapova said she had been taking it for over 10 years as she was magnesium deficient and had recorded several irregular electrocardiography (EKG) tests.

She said that her team did not check the updated banned substance list and hence she tested positive for the drug at the 2016 Australian Open.

The two-time French Open winner had hoped to build up enough ranking points to automatically qualify for the Roland Garros event, which begins on May 22, but defeat to Kiki Mladenovic in the semifinal of the Stuttgart Open in April left her fate in the hands of the French Tennis Federation.

Sharapova is currently ranked No. 211 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) world rankings.

‘She is a cheater’

Sharapova’s return has not been well received by many of her fellow professionals.

Mladenovic said before the pair’s meeting in April that “all the other players are saying she (Sharapova) is a cheater,” in comments carried by The Guardian. The French star added: “She’s been taking this drug for 10 years and it’s a serious drug.”

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard also described the Russian as a “cheater” prior to their matchup at the recent Madrid Open.

Bouchard said she had “a lot of players coming up to me privately, wishing me good luck,” without naming who those players were. “I got a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me. I wanted to do it for myself, but also for all these people,” she added.

Wimbledon qualifiers

Sharapova received wildcard entry to the Rome Masters this week where a first round win over Christina McHale ensured she will make the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon next month.

As things stand, a run to the semis in the Italian Capital would guarantee her position in the main draw at the All England Club.

Sharapova is one of the most marketable stars in tennis and the former World No.1 was estimated to be worth up to $195 million back in 2016.

The French Open draw was already missing one of its biggest stars as the pregnant Serena Williams takes time out before the birth of her first child.

Sharapova was initially banned for two years but this was reduced to 15 months on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which stated she bore no “significant fault” and did not intend to cheat.

Meldonium “demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system functions,” according to a 2015 study in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.