Vitaly Mutko confirms that many Russian athletes used meldonium before it was banned, with 40 under investigation

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Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko admits that several hundred Russian athletes were using meldonium before it was banned on January 1, with 40 now under investigation.

Interfax, a Russian news agency, reported on Thursday (April 7) that 30 per cent of sports teams in the country had used the drug, according to Mutko.

The minister has previously stated that all Russian athletes under investigation would receive legal assistance, which includes banned cyclist Eduard Vorganov, formerly of Katusha.

“Our main task now is to stabilize the situation and reduce our losses,” Mutko said. “Our second task is to support Russian athletes under investigation now.”

>>> Russian Cycling Federation confirms two positive tests for meldonium

Tennis player Maria Sharapova is the most high profile athlete to have tested positive for the drug, saying that she had been prescribed it by her doctors for several years.

Meldoinium is commonly used to treat heart conditions and chest pain, but it is also thought to improve endurance in athletes and was included on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list for 2016.

But on company that makes the drug has recently stated that the drug can stay in a person’s system for months after they stop taking it.

WADA confirmed in March that more than 140 athletes worldwide have tested positive for the drug.

  • John Senior

    I imagine that many athletes will have used this because it wasn’t on the banned list – if it isn’t banned it isn’t illegal. That might not be morally sound but you only have to look at the number of therapeutic exemptions for asthma drugs for athletes to see what marginal gains means for some people. This is a good example as you’d imagine that there would be fewer asthmatics in elite sport than the general population – however, I suspect the percentage in elite sport is probably higher. This was one of the concerns about Alberto Salazar and his coaching methods.

  • boycollins

    Do you seriously think it was just the Russians using this PED? Get real.

  • ummm…

    ha! GREEN bit above us; remember if it was blue then ALL countries would be doping – according to my analysis. We know very well, thanks to weccy, that only Russia does.

  • Stevo

    If not banned, it is the same as any other legal drug. The fact that you, presumably, find its use reprehensible is, I think, irrelevant. If I am wrong, can you explain why?

  • nortonpdj

    Patrick, I agree with you that the only people that should be using this, or any other, drug are people who have a medical reason for doing so. It may be a stupid, risky and morally questionable thing to do, but if a substance was not on the banned list at the time when the athletes used it, they have broken no rules. (I cannot comment on the specific case of Sharapova as I know nothing about it.)

  • Patrick Murphy

    So you think it was ok to use before it was banned? The answer is no, it should only be used by people who have a MEDICAL reason for it!!

  • Patrick Murphy

    You’re totally missing the point here, worryingly so!!. The only people that should be using that drug are people that have a medical reason for doing so, you are not seriously suggesting all these russian athletes had heart problems? And in Sharapovas case, was she not getting this in the US where it not approved by the FDA?

  • llos25

    Is that the sky cycling team or the blue bit above us(normally)

  • llos25

    What is cheating if you used an acceptable drug and then stopped when it was banned I think you want to read more carefully what they have printed.

  • Weccy’s comment is gormless, but surely so many Russian athletes don’t have heart problems or chest pains?

  • ummm…

    lol only the Russians. All other countries that clean up on medals in international sports are doing it sans drugs. also, the sky is green.

  • nortonpdj

    Show some sense Weccy. Using a substance before it is banned is not cheating. What do you expect – that athletes can predict which substances will be banned and when?

  • Mark Wright

    The key statement is “before” it was banned, I’ m sure many countries athletes used it before it was on wadas banned list.

  • Weccy

    It appears that the Russians are incapable of entering any sport without cheating. What a damming indictment on a Nation