03:48 GMT17 January 2021
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    Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko called on the Russian law enforcement authorities Thursday to investigate cases of athletes taking meldonium.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The announcement comes just days after Russia's doping scandal gained new momentum when Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova and figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova announcing that they had both tested positive for meldonium.

    On Tuesday, reports emerged that short-track speed-skater Semion Elistratov, speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov and national volleyball team member Alexander Markin, among others, had also tested positive for the banned substance.

    "I want the law enforcement agencies to carry out an investigation [into these cases]. At least an administrative investigation. It is one thing when the federation is investigating it, another – when a court [is]," Mutko told reporters.

    The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) added meldonium to its banned substances list on January 1, 2016. The agency considers the drug to be a metabolic modulator that increases athletes' endurance and shortens post-exercise rehabilitation time, as well as being shown to enhance the activation of central nervous system functions.

    In November, WADA issued a report accusing Russia of numerous breaches of global anti-doping regulations and recommended the country be banned from international athletics competitions.

    Related:

    Sharapova Thanks Fans for Support Amid Doping Scandal
    Kremlin on Sharapova Doping Scandal: Russia Slams Politicization of Sports
    Many Recent Athlete Doping Cases Involve Meldonium Use - WADA Spokesman
    Tags:
    meldonium, doping, WADA, Maria Sharapova
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