Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova admitted she had failed to pass a doping test during the Australian Grand Slam in January.
During an extraordinary press conference in Los Angeles, which was broadcasted on Sharapova’s personal website online, the sportswoman confessed she had been taking mildronate for the past ten years. The drug was recommended by her family doctor and wasn’t banned at that time.
Not so long ago, she received a letter from the International Tennis Federation that notified her that mildronate that is also known as meldonium has been prohibited since the beginning of 2016. As a result, her doping test turned out to be positive.
Sharapova was excluded from competition, which is to start on March 12 until circumstances of the case are clarified.
It is reported that the same substance had been found during doping control of Russian figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova. She has been also suspended from participation in all the competitions until things get settled.
Meldonium is used to treat angina, myocardial infarction, cardiac insufficiency, and other diseases.
The drug has become popular among athletes because it increases work capacity, as well as mental and physical stamina. It has a tonic effect on the central nervous system, improves memory, concentration and coordination. Hundreds of athletes are believed to take this drug.
Sharapova can claim she took the drug for medical reasons and demand for an exceptional permit to take it. Such a permit is called TUE (therapeutic use exemption).
TUE permits the athlete to take a prohibited medicine if he or she suffers from a particular disease and the drug is necessary to treat it.
According to the rules of WADA, Sharapova can be suspended from tennis for up to four years.