MOSCOW (AP) Russia has included Maria Sharapova on its preliminary team for the Olympic tennis tournament in August despite her provisional suspension for failing a drug test.
Sharapova has been suspended since March after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open in January, but the Russian Tennis Federation hopes she could be cleared in time to play in Rio de Janeiro.
Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev tells the Tass news agency that Sharapova was on a preliminary squad list, "but if she isn't able to compete, then the next-highest player on the ranking list will go into the team."
On Sept. 29, the flame for the Sochi Games was lit in Olympia, Greece, where it began a record-breaking journey that ultimately takes it 40,000 miles around the host country of Russia. That trek - the longest in Winter Games history - will include memorable stops along the way, including a trip to the North Pole, the highest mountain peak in Europe and the deepest lake in the world. Chart the day-by-day journey of the flame, learn about its rich Olympic tradition and take a look at the specifications of the Sochi torch as it heads toward Fisht Stadium, where, on Feb. 7, it will set the XXII Winter Games underway.
There will be 11 venues used at the Sochi Games, most of which were newly built for these Olympics. The venues are divided into two clusters - coastal and mountain - with each having its own Olympic Village. The coastal cluster will host indoor events and is highlighted by Olympic Park, which will serve as a hub connecting all competition areas. Thirty miles northeast sits the mountain cluster, which will host outdoor events and is a quick stop away thanks to a new railway system created for these Games. Find out where the venues are located, what sports they're hosting and gain insight into their unique designs.
Though the Summer Games got a 28-year head start, the Winter Olympics have grown significantly since their 1924 debut and continue to appeal to a younger demographic with the addition of extreme-type events. Yet it's the sport of figure skating which has long been these Games' standard-bearer, from the majesty of Hennie and Button to the drama of Kerrigan and Harding. Thanks to a broad program of skiing events, however, Europe has emerged as winter's dominant force over 22 Olympiads. Discover the continent's preeminence on the medal stand, explore the Games' host cities and unveil its top moments and athletes.