Russia banned from sporting events by WADA following failure “to pull a rabbit out of the hat.” Where does this leave Tennis at the 2020 Olympics?

The World Anti Doping Agency have banned Russia from major sporting events for four years.

The ban has come after an investigation into Anti-Doping in Russia following an investigation against RADA (Russia Anti-Doping Agency) were deemed non-compliant for manipulating data handed to investigating team in January.

Investigators said back in September that they would have to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” to convince WADA but failed to do so.

This does mean that Russia are banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup. They are however allowed to compete in the European Championships next summer as it isn’t deemed a major event.

How does this affect tennis?

From what I believe, not too much!

As of the 8th of June 2020 the top 56 in mens and women’s singles tennis will qualify for the Olympics. Only the top four men and top four women qualify ranked inside the top 56. If you are the fifth ranked in the top 56 for your country you can’t qualify.

Russian tennis players can still play but will have to compete under the neutral flag.

It isn’t known yet how many places will be there for players to compete under the neutral flag in mens and women’s singles and doubles tennis event.

As long as they are in the top 56 it is believed it shouldn’t make a difference.

Russian athletes that can prove a clean bill of drugs tests/health can compete in the Olympics under the neutral flag in any sport.

This does add some more questions to tennis in particular. Maria Sharapova of course was banned in 2016 for testing positive for Meldonium at the Australian Open which was introduced as a banned substance a few months prior to the test. Sharapova admitted that her and her team didn’t check the updates and was found by WADA to have had ‘some degree of fault’ but ‘less than significant fault’ as her ban was reduced to 15 months.

It is believed that Sharapova would have no issue in being eligible due to this however coming into the Australian Open once points drop off she could be outside top 300.

Maria on the other hand looks likely to skip the Olympics in what is expected to be her last Olympic Games to play World Team Tennis in USA at the end of July.

Screenshot 2019-12-09 at 19.48.24

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