Russia Withdraws Players, Teams From Competition Due to Meldonium

Russia took defensive action this week in the face of the ongoing doping scandal. Afraid of possible positive tests for Meldonium, the country has withdrawn numerous athletes from international competition. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the AP of the action.

Concurrently, the Russian under 18 National Hockey team, which was due to compete in the World Championship, was replaced. The team, which was due to compete in the IIHF World U18 Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota, was replaced by a younger team.

Two other teams or players were notably withdrawn, one by the Russian Federation and one privately. The National Curling team was replaced at the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. Russian professional Volleyball team Gazprom Yugra dropped several players from its roster despite competing in the European Volleyball Federation Cup.

Mutko did not make a direct connection between any of these moves and the fear of positive Meldonium tests. When asked, Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak gave a vague reasoning of “tactics” for their withdrawal. Tretiak, who played goalie for Russia when they lost the famed “Miracle on Ice” game to the United States in 1984, did his best to deflect the controversy. Mutko, meanwhile, did admit that use of the drug was widespread among Russian athletes.

The news is just the latest development in an ongoing scandals unfurling in both Russia and China. Last week, we recapped all the developments in both countries with links to our continuing coverage. The story continues to make doping news bigger than it has ever been with just months to go until Rio.


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5 years ago

Curling… CURLING?!?!?! They might be doping CURLERS?!?!?!

I’m sorry- that’s perposterous… They should be doing blood alcohol tests on curlers… Not blood doping tests… CURLERS?!?!?!

Reply to  HulkSwim
5 years ago

I know right?

5 years ago

You must have never curled before. Workouts are on par with swimming.

Captain Ontario
Reply to  G3
5 years ago

You’re trolling us, right?

5 years ago

I wonder if this is the same reason Vlad Morozov, Daria Ustinova, Vitalina Simonova and Alexandre Sukhorukov were left off the Russian Olympic Trials start lists. Keep them out of sight so they won’t test positive.

Meldonium = Russian Skittles!

Oh The Shame
5 years ago

Problem – rest of the world is realizing how wide spread drug usage is with the Russian Federation.
Solution – don’t enter any of your athletes in international events which would subject them to outside drug testing

What a joke! Every Russian (and Chinese) athlete should be subject to drug testing by an outside agency within the next week or they cannot compete in the Olympics!

Maybe test all athletes no matter what country of origin! This is the biggest issue facing Olympic sports movement and any thought of fair athletic competition!

northern sue
5 years ago

The figure skating champion Plushenko told Russian media that mildronate (I think a type of meldonium because it shows up in all the meldonium articles?) was taken like Vitamin C in Russia. That seems to be the case, given the widespread positive tests in multiple sports. For me, the question has shifted from the question of whether it was used (seems like it was!) to how the drug affects athletes. There the information seems a lot less clear. Is this more equivalent to drinking a Red Bull/coffee? To a preventative type of vitamin? Or to testosterone and other doping violations that offer an undeniable advantage?

Athletes with Heart Conditions
Reply to  northern sue
5 years ago

Meldonium is a drug used to treat chronic heart failure. Meldonium used in combination with standard exercise tolerance therapy can improve the exercise tolerance of stable angina patients. That doesn’t sound like much like Red Bull or Coffee?

So unless these athletes have a chronic heart failure issue why would they be talking the product? Very simple, meldonium has been used to improve athletic performance!

Since WADA banned the substance on January 1, 2016, 123 athletes have tested positive through March 25, 2016. With a large majority of them being from the eastern half of Europe and Russia. The data would support Plushenko’s claim that meldonium was used like a vitamin within the Russian athletic community!

Reply to  Athletes with Heart Conditions
5 years ago

Meldonium is a drug/compound/ pharma developed by the USSR for its Afghanistan deployment in harsh conditions. I was in the USSR at the time for a general look at their health systems & it was simply very different . Much like visiting China or India so you need to put on a different hat. BTW the world has always been horrified by the US medical system of Big Pharma & BigInsurance.

After the dissolving of the USSR the rights were given to Latvia because its developer was was Latvian (or Russian ethnic living in Latvia ) .He has made a statement regarding the design & usage . In the big ” sell offs “& corruption post USSR – he… Read more »

Reply to  Gina
5 years ago

Clarification -I am sceptical not on WADA but more on the War on Drugs . Not just for sport but all of them . Sure some like ice are bad & need limiting but others like cocaine , opium can be beneficial. I once read that 4 nations (ironically the drivers of WADA ) Uk USA Can & Australia use most of the world’s legal poppy production & the rest of the world is left to die in agony. Amid the massive NATO effort in Afghanistan I see the graph that shows opium production spearing up the charts after the Taliban had wiped it out & the Taliban who did not fly planes get whacked .

Beats me . I’m… Read more »

Joel Lin
5 years ago

Curling demanding like swimming? Are we being punked?

Coach Chackett
5 years ago

Miracle on ice 1980 not 1984

5 years ago

As a swimmer who has tried curling, it’s not as easy as you might think. The sweeping position is pretty tough. That being said, it is still nothing compared to swimming. Swimming definately has some of the hardest training out there.

About Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis is a swim coach, writer and swimming enthusiast. Chris does private consulting and coaching with teams and individuals. You can find him at Chris is a 2009 Graduate from the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first professional athletic coach …

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