Twice champion Maria Sharapova was snubbed by French Open organisers who decided not to hand her a wildcard on moral grounds on her return from a 15-month doping suspension. French Tennis Federation (FTF) president Bernard Giudicelli said to do so would amount to failing to protect the game.
"You can get a wildcard when you return from injury but you cannot get a wildcard when returning from a doping suspension," Giudicelli told a news conference. "I appreciate the media impact of Maria, I appreciate the broadcasters' expectations but in conscience, it was not possible to go beyond the anti-doping code and beyond the application of the rules," he added. "She might be very disappointed, but it's my responsibility to protect the game."
Former world No 1 Sharapova returned from a doping ban last month and was expecting a wildcard to participate in the French Open which had earlier lost a host of leading players, including Serena Williams.
"This suspension is over and she can take her path toward new success," Giudicelli said. "But while there can be a wildcard for return from injury, there can't be a wildcard for return from doping."
Since her return, Sharapova has competed in two tournaments as a wildcard. She lost in the semifinals of the Stuttgart Open last month and last week was ousted in the second round of the Madrid Open by Eugenie Bouchard. But this decision came as a big blow for the two-time champions.
Sharapova was recently awarded a wildcard by the Lawn Tennis Association(LTA) for competing in the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.
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