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SBD Global/May 19, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Head CEO Agrees With French Open's Decision To Deny Sharapova A Wild Card

The decision by the French Open to deny Maria Sharapova a wild card "surprisingly received the full support of the Russian's racket sponsor," according to Stuart Fraser of the LONDON TIMES. Tennis equipment company Head CEO & Chair Johan Eliasch believes the French Tennis Federation (FFT) "made the right call not to hand Sharapova a spot in the draw." However, Eliasch "laid the blame for one of his most prominent clients missing the second grand-slam event of the year at the door of the World Anti-Doping Agency." Since Sharapova announced her failed doping test last year, Eliasch has "repeatedly made the case" that meldonium "should not have been made a prohibited substance." Eliasch said, "I fully support the grand slam tournament's decision. I don't think there should be wild cards for doping offenders. Yes, I am disappointed, but rules are rules. What also disappoints me is the fact that WADA has not conducted their business properly, that disappoints me more than the fact that Maria is not playing. What I think is still very wrong is the fact that WADA has been allowed to enforce the rule without any form of evidence or clinical testing. If WADA is to have any credibility, they have to stick to their own rules." WADA has always insisted, however, that "proper procedures were followed." A spokesperson said Wednesday, "The WADA List Expert Group undertook a very thorough consultation process in 2015. Following this process, it was determined that meldonium was being used by athletes with the intent of enhancing performance" (LONDON TIMES, 5/18).

TV SNUB: In London, Kieran Gill reported Sharapova's "French Open exile will extend to media coverage," with Eurosport and ITV to "snub signing the Russian as a pundit" for the tournament. Neither broadcaster has "plans to invite Sharapova into their studios" (DAILY MAIL, 5/17).
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