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CAS delay means Sharapova will not play in Rio Olympics

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Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova's dreams of competing at next month's Rio Olympics were dashed after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday delayed the decision on her two-year doping ban to September 19.

In a statement published on the court's official website, the CAS said: "In her appeal to the CAS, Sharapova seeks the annulment of the Tribunal's decision to sanction her with a two-year period of ineligibility further to an anti-doping rule violation. Sharapova submits that the period of ineligibility should be eliminated, or in the alternative, reduced. The final decision will be announced and published by CAS when it is available."

Consequently, Sharapova will miss the Rio Games that will take place from August 5 to 21.

Reacting to the development, Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) President Shamil Tarpishchev said Sharapova's absence from the Olympics is a great loss for the national team.

"Sharapova's absence is a loss for our national team at the Olympics. We hoped for her medal in singles. In the current situation, the composition of the women's team at the Games remains unchanged," Tarpishchev told Tass.

The RTF stated in late May that it decided to enter in the Olympic team Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavliuchenkova and Darya Kasatkina.

In early March, Sharapova announced that her doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug meldonium in the body system. Following the announcement, former World's No. 1 was provisionally suspended from all tennis-related activities.

The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Authority) from January 1 this year. The presence of the meldonium substance in the athlete's blood during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules. The substance belongs to S4 class on WADA blacklist of hormones and metabolic modulators.

WADA announced on April 13 that the concentration of less than one microgram of meldonium in the body system of an athlete, whose doping tests were conducted before March 1, was acceptable.