17:14 GMT20 January 2021
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    A flurry of accusations against prominent Russian athletes using meldonium raises many questions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Monday, Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, five-time Grand Slam champion, said she tested positive for meldonium, medicine added to the list of banned substances on January 1, 2016 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The substance was also found in Russian figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova’s doping test. On Thursday, Russian biathlonist Eduard Latypov also failed a drug test for meldonium.

    "The situation raises a number of questions, when a flurry of accusations are issued against our leading top athletes. And then, as soon as this meldonium was — after decades of being a conventional drug, which has been used both by athletes and ordinary people with cardiovascular failure — suddenly declared a doping," Lavrov said in an interview with the REN-TV channel.

    Lavrov noted that in recent days there were "no restrictions on the comments of experts, including those of the creator of the drug," and the experts professionally explained that meldonium is not formally a doping drug.

    Earlier this week, Ivars Calvins, the inventor of meldonium, said that banning the drug would likely cause deaths among athletes, as they may suddenly die in action if denied the drug, which provides protection in case of excessive load on the heart.

    Meldonium, also known as mildronate, was developed in Latvia in the 1970s as an anti-ischemia medication, as well as to help treat diabetes. A number of athletes, including Sharapova, confirmed they had been using the medication for health reasons long before it was banned.


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