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Sharapova in a Crossfire: Russia’s Latest Doping Scandal

Perhaps no tablet in history has carried such a high cost as the dose of meldonium that tip Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova took before the Australian Open quarter-finals on Jan. 26 — that she mislaid to Serena Williams.

The highest-paid womanlike contestant of the final decade looked quiescent when she announced at a specifically convened press discussion that she had unsuccessful a doping test. It was the first time that a leading world-class tennis actor had been held doping. Within hours, 3 of her vital corporate promotion sponsors dangling cooperation.

This spin of events came so suddenly that it is not that tough to believe Sharapova when she says she did not know that meldonium, or mildronate, had been combined to the list of banned substances this January.

The tennis universe was mostly sympathetic. “As Maria said,” Serena Williams commented, “she’s prepared to take responsibility. And that takes bravery and heart.” The only distinguished Russian contestant to strongly reject Sharapova was Russian Tennis Association clamp boss Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the best masculine Russian tennis actor in history, carrying won the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the late 1990s.

Sharapova would seem to be no Lance Armstrong. It is misleading because she would risk her career and endorsements value tens of millions of dollars for the consequence of medication with capricious benefits. Sharapova claims she has been holding the drug for 10 years to combat signs of diabetes — to which her family is disposed — strange EKG formula and a magnesium deficiency.

Vitamin or Drug?

Russian athletes and even doctors review meldonium to Vitamin C. It was always on the same spin as Levokarnitin, a vitamin, confirms Olesya Shevchenko, a former tennis journalist. Many Russian aptness websites enclose recommendations on “How to take mildronate for sports.”

Meldonium was invented in Latvia in 1975 and is really renouned in the former Soviet Union. A package of the drug can be purchased with a prescription at any pharmacy. It’s not stable in the U.S., and Sharapova, who has been formed in the U.S. given childhood, many expected was endorsed to take it by Russian Federation managers or doctors years ago.

Its primary outcome is in helping the body redeem some-more fast after earthy activity. Its creator, Latvian chemist Ivar Kalvinsh, told The Moscow Times that he does not cruise it a doping drug. “With meldonium,” he explained, “an contestant can't run faster or over — he is usually stable from ischemia and oxygen scarcity when operative at full capacity.”

But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspicion differently after a study published in February 2015 found widespread use of mildronate in a accumulation of sports. 2.2 percent of samples tested positive. “The injustice of mildronate is not singular to a sold competition or to a organisation of sports […] The findings of high mildronate concentrations in samples imagining not from so called ‘high-risk’ competition disciplines are alarming,” the experts wrote.

WADA announced in October 2015 that it would embody meldonium on its list of banned substances. “This high spin of use by athlete for non-therapeutic functions stirred WADA to ban meldonium from Jan. 1, 2016. It appears that the use of meldonium has been widespread by Eastern European athletes opposite many sports,” Richard Ings, the former conduct of the Australian Anti-Doping Agency, told The Moscow Times. Meldonium was reserved an S4 sequence as belonging to the organisation of “hormones and metabolic modulators.” Athletes held regulating it face suspension from their competition for up to four years.

Fresh Blow for Russian Sport

It fast became transparent that Russian athletes would be strike hardest by the new regulation. German radio publisher Hajo Seppelt, whose documentary films sparked the investigation into the Russian doping scandal, claims that one in five Russian athletes was regulating meldonium final year, while it was still permitted. Of 4,316 samples drawn from Russian athletes, traces of the drug were found in 724, or 17 percent — roughly 8 times the level internationally. Almost each contestant in Russia and Eastern Europe took it, agrees Shevchenko.

Sharapova was distant from the usually contestant to test certain for meldonium. On March 7 that eminence also befell Yekaterina Bobrova, who won an Olympic bullion award with the Russian figure skating group in 2014.

Three some-more Russian athletes tested certain for the drug on March 8: inhabitant volleyball group member Alexander Markin, Olympic short-track speed skating champion Semion Elistratov and Pavel Kulizhnikov, two-time universe speed skating all-round scurry champion and world record-holder for 500 meters. Katyusha cycling group member Eduard Vorganov also tested certain for meldonium behind in February, though it is Kulizhnikov who faces the most serious sanctions. He was held for doping several years ago, and if his second representation tests certain now, he could be criminialized for life from the sport.

Moreover, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko certified that some-more cases could surface. “Unfortunately, a lot of athletes took this medicine,” he said.

As recently as final December, Mutko’s method became the focus of an rare doping scandal: WADA indicted Russian officials and even comprehension agencies of corruption in substituting doping samples — in other words, of direct impasse in doping in track and field sports. The agency also dangling membership of the All-Russia Athletic Foundation (ARAF) in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The scandal has busted the reputation of Russian sports. The director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) quiescent in December and now, at the ask of WADA, doping samples of Russian athletes are carried out in Britain. New care has been commissioned at ARAF and its former director, Valentin Balakhnichev, might face rapist charges for corruption, Interfax reported in February.

This time around, Russian competition officials are behaving as if they are not obliged for the problem. Now Russia can benefaction the story of meldonium as a chain of unfortunate incidents, and the fact that the ban was instituted usually recently enables officials to blame particular doctors, coaches and athletes, rather than censuring the entire Russian jaunty system.

No Mercy

WADA decisions were frequency anti-Russian in nature. But now, it is apparent that Russian doping samples are subjected to particular scrutiny, and the moving family between WADA and Russia meant that any even somewhat think form of aid given to popular Russian athletes will tumble underneath the ban.

In a way, Maria Sharapova fell plant to this miss of the advantage of the doubt, and straight shooters WADA uncover no mercy. “Maria Sharapova is Russia’s many distinguished general athlete. She is a five time Grand Slam champion. She carried the Russian dwindle at the opening rite of the London 2012 Olympic Games. She is an icon of Russian competition and her certain exam is a huge blow to her personal and professional reputation. A repercussion of her certain will be a loss of confidence by the open in Russian sport,” Richard Ings said.

It’s not unite packages and all the money that comes from them that troubles her many now, assures Shevchenko. “She’s implausible fighter, one of very few tennis players who start personification improved while losing and can spin a no-way-out conditions into victory. The most serious punishment she can get is not income though being criminialized from the game.” 

Article source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/562029.html