Drug Used by Sharapova Found in 99 Other Cases

Nearly 100 positive tests so far this year
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2016 11:13 AM CST
Drug Used by Sharapova Found in 99 Other Cases
Tablets and vials of meldonium, also known as mildronate, are photographed in Moscow on Tuesday. Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova says she failed a drug test for meldonium at the Australian Open.   (AP Photo/James Ellingworth)

Maria Sharapova isn't the only athlete who's been busted for taking a heart medicine once used by Soviet troops to build stamina. Turns out the World Anti-Doping Agency has seen nearly 100 positive tests in 2016 for meldonium, a drug the group banned Jan. 1, spokesman Ben Nichols told the AP via email. "There have been 99 adverse analytical findings for meldonium recorded," he writes, though he didn't indicate who exactly was nailed for it, other than noting seven of the confirmed cases were revealed to be from Russians (including Sharapova). And there may be more instances to come, as the New York Daily News reports WADA may go back to 2006 to recheck urine samples.

"Under the World Anti-Doping Code, the revised statute of limitations allows [WADA] to pursue anti-doping rule violations for a period of 10 years from when any violation was said to have occurred," Nichols says. And believe it or not, there are probably urine samples still sitting around, as license agreements all Olympic athletes sign when they apply permit samples to be kept around in case of new advancements in testing down the road. As for healthy athletes who are tempted to take drugs like this in what health blogger Aaron Carroll calls in the New York Times a "pharmaceutical quest for the edge," it's not worth it. "There's no magic here," he writes. "Unfortunately, most of those people are getting all the harms of the substances they take, but few of the benefits." (More sports doping stories.)

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