On the day before the World Anti-Doping Agency revoked the accreditation of Russia’s only ISL-certified anti-doping lab, Russian president Vladimir Putin says that he’s “totally certain” that Meldonium “influences the result.
“This substance was never considered as doping,” The Associated Press has quoted Putin as saying during a marathon phone-in program on Russian television. “It doesn’t influence the result. That’s totally certain. It just keeps the heart muscles in good condition under high load.”
While it’s become widely-known that the drug was very popular among Russian athletes, Putin says he doesn’t think the country was being targeted by the drug being outlawed on January 1st of this year after a recent run of Russian doping scandals.
Meldonium is responsible for the positive tests of Russian World Champion swimmer Yulia Efimova, as well as former tennis world no. 1 Maria Sharapova.
He does, however, thinks there should have been more research done on how long it takes to clear the body before outlawing it. Most of the Russian athletes who have tested positive for the substance in early 2016 have claimed that they took it when it was legal, and that the substance just hasn’t left the body.
WADA’s justification for banning Meldonium was “because of evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance.” WADA didn’t clarify at the time where its line was drawn between Meldonium and other widely-used supplements that are not banned.
The drug was developed in the 1970s to treat angina and myocardial infarcation – two conditions of the heart. Clinic trials run in 2010 indicated that the drug improved the exercise tolerances of patients with stable angina.
While the drug’s makers don’t believe it should be considered performance-enhancing, they do say that in its early days, it improved the endurance and oxygen-carrying capacity for Soviet troops operating in high-altitude, low-oxygen environments.
WADA recorded 123 samples with traces of Meldonium between January 1 and March 25, 2016.
When pressed about his country’s chances of competing in track & field events at the Olympics (the country’s athletics federation has been suspended since November), Putin said “they’re obviously in a hard situation, but you have to be ready for anything, it seems to me, if you ask my opinion…Of course we will fight for decisions to be fair. The Russian Sports Ministry, our sports organizations are working with good lawyers at a world level on this issue and are studying all aspects of the topic.”