Former world tennis number one Maria Sharapova has been handed a two year ban after returning a positive test for Meldonium earlier this year.
The 29 year old will appeal the decision. Statement from WADA below:
NEWS RELEASE / COMMUNIQUÉ
WADA STATEMENT REGARDING MARIA SHARAPOVA CASE
Montreal, 8 June 2016 – WADA acknowledges the decision issued today by the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Independent Tribunal which found that Maria Sharapova committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) for the use of banned substance Meldonium, and that, as a consequence, a period of ineligibility of two (2) years has been imposed, commencing on 26 January 2016.
As with all decisions made by Anti-Doping Organizations, WADA will review the decision, including its reasoning, and will subsequently decide whether or not to use its independent right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
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For the full ITF Ruling, please click here
What does Maria Sharapova have in common with cyclists, track athletes, marathon runners, ice-dancers, biathletes and speed skaters? Athletes from all these sports have been banned or provisionally suspended after testing positive for Meldonium.
So what is it about meldonium that seems to make its use among some groups of athletes as common as sugar on a Kiwi’s Weetbix? Meldonium, or mildronate is a drug developed to aid blood flow to the heart in patients with angina or heart problems. Improvements in blood flow and heart function along with potential effects on energy metabolism are reasons athletes perceive it to be performance enhancing. Manufactured in Latvia and only distributed in Eastern Europe meldonium is not approved for use in the United States or the rest of Europe.
Meldonium was added to the WADA list of banned substances on January 1st, 2016 after first being placed on the WADA monitoring list.