Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the use of the recently banned drug Meldonium. The President said use of the performance-boosting drug by athletes does not constitute doping.
Putin said during an annual call-in show that Meldonium has nothing to do with doping. The Russian head of the state said it does not impact results at all and simply keeps the heart muscle in good condition under high strain. The Russian President said the WADA's decision to ban the drug, which was first produced in Latvia during the Soviet era, did not had "political implications". On the other hand, other Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have suggested in the past that a ban on Meldonium unfairly targets athletes from the former Soviet Union, where it is widely available.
Putin was however non-committal when he was asked about the team’s chances of being allowed to compete at the Olympics in August by Russian track head coach Yuri Borzakovsky. Putin remarked they are obviously in a hard situation but you have to be ready for anything, it seems to me, if you ask my opinion. The Russian head of the state added we will of course fight for decisions to be fair and also remarked the Russian Sports Ministry, our sports organizations are working with good lawyers at a world level on this issue and are studying all aspects of the topic.
Meldonium (Mildronate) belongs to S4 class on the WADA blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators) and its presence in the blood of an athlete during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules.
A number of high-profile Russian athletes -- including Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova -- have tested positive for the drug ever since tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted last month that she tested positive for the substance at the Australian Open. The doping case involving Russia’s tennis star and former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova will be considered by the Tribunal of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Shamil Tarpishchev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), said the hearings of the ITF Tribunal into Maria Sharapova’s case could be postponed until June.
Earlier this month, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said 40 Russian athletes had tested positive for the drug since the drug was banned on January 1 this year by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Mutko had also remarked that as much as 90 percent of Russian athletes who tested positive for the substance had underestimated how long it takes for the drug to leave the body.
On Wednesday, WADA said athletes could escape a ban for taking Meldonium as it is still not sure for sure how long it takes the substance to leave the body. The World Anti-Doping Agency added 172 Meldonium cases have been recorded since the substance was banned. WADA added it considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete and remarked in a notice that action could be suspended if between one and 15 micrograms of Meldonium are detected and the test was taken before March 1 as studies are needed to determine when a substance was taken.