Maria Sharapova unconcerned by doping criticism

Maria Sharapova at a press conference on March 7, 2016
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Maria Sharapova says that she does not fear a backlash as she prepares to return from a doping ban.

Maria Sharapova has insisted that she is not worried about facing a backlash from her fellow professionals as she prepares to return from a doping ban.

The Russian, who will make her comeback at the Stuttgart Open next week following a 15-month suspension, said that she is confident her opponents still respect her.

"That is the least of my concerns," she told Stern magazine when asked whether she fears a backlash.

"I haven't wasted a single thought on it. I know that I am respected in my field. I see it in how my opponents play against me."

Sharapova was initially suspended for two years after testing positive for banned substance meldonium at last year's Australian Open, before the ban was reduced upon appeal.

She went on to criticise anti-doping boss Stuart Miller, who she claims failed to inform her that meldonium had been outlawed in tennis.

"He didn't want to know anything about it," she said. "And for me, that is proof that he didn't do his job properly. At the ITF, they should make sure the athletes are informed about the new doping rules.

"I take responsibility for my part, but there are other people who could have taken action. And they belong to the ITF."

The substance was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list at the start of 2016.

Maria Sharapova at a press conference on March 7, 2016
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