WADA Extends Meldonium ‘Grace Period’ To September 30th

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has just announced an extension to its ‘grace period’ whereby athletes testing positive for banned substance meldonium would be found at ‘no fault’ if the test was taken prior to a designated date.

As it stood entering the month of June, WADA stated that in the particular circumstances where the concentration of a tested sample was found to be below 1mcg and the test was taken prior to March 1, 2016, the case may be deemed ‘compatible with intake prior to January 2016’. The case would thereby render no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete.

However, upon receiving additional excretion study results last week, WADA has now provided an updated guidance to organizations managing meldonium cases. According to WADA, the March 1st date is moved now to September 30th. As such, any athlete having tested positive for meldonium in concentrations of less than 1mcg prior to September 30th may indeed escape punitive bans.

Included in WADA’s statement, which you can read in its entirety here,  the agency states,”Typically, WADA does not commission excretion studies for substances that are added to the List as the Agency is generally able to rely on this information being provided by the manufacturer or regulatory authorities.”

“In the case of meldonium, however, no information relating to urinary excretion was available and so once it was added to the List, WADA undertook excretion studies.”

WADA’s Director General Olivier Niggli stated that, “The addition of meldonium to the Prohibited List created an unprecedented situation and therefore, during a transitional period, it warranted additional guidance for those in the anti-doping community tasked with managing cases.”

With the expanded timeframe, it is possible athletes currently awaiting federation-dictated punishments may see a ‘no fault’ ruling handed down instead. This may indeed include Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, who saw her provisional suspension for meldonium lifted last May. The reigning World Champion still awaits word on whether she will be eligible for the 2016 Olympic Games or not both from the FINA Doping Panel and any subsequent appeals of that FINA Doping Panel decision.

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I’d like to see her swim in Rio

Compton Gardens

I do, too. Because I want to see Ruta and King kick her butt!


She makes a great villain so its okay with me. Good vs evil etc so we cant have the battle and all discussion about what she has done if we don’t let her swim.


For me it is pretty cut and dry. Provide me with some documentation that proves that you actually had a condition that warranted this drug being taken and if not you CHEATED!! Everyone is trying to act like well it wasn’t a banned substance when she was taking it blah, blah, blah. I’m sick of athletes playing the tainted supplements card and the well it wasn’t illegal when I was taking it. It’s simple their are many steriods out there that we haven’t figured out how to test for or know they exist! Does that make it ok to take them? If you know something is being taken for the sole purpose of gaining a competitive advantage that you don’t… Read more »


agree. she took it not for medical reason. WADA is quite ridiculous in allowing any result to be throw away because it was residual from stopping taking the PED? If that is the case, why ever even bother to re-test any old samples or set a date for substance to be banned. This particular drug was announced to be banned starting 1/1/2016 at the beginning of October 2015. If that is not good enough warning for anyone cheater, nothing is. If an athlete is tested positive, the athlete use the drug, period. If the athlete has no medical exemption (i.e. no reason to be on that drug), it is cheating. Seems clear and simple enough to me but it is… Read more »


U remind me MP, Paul Biederman and swimsuits some years ago.
You’re not her doctor to decide about medical reason, isnt it?
I think WADA took a hasty decision about meldonium.
Sorry for my english.


I hear you, but it is a slippery slope. Caffeine for example. In his latest facebook video, Phelps said he doesn’t use supplements but “only had a caffeine pill” before a race. Does he also cheat because he sleeps in an oxygen tent? Pretty sure he doesn’t need to breathe enriched oxygen for medical reasons. Just playing devils advocate here…..

Joel Lin

It is not a slippery slope at all. Last I checked I don’t need a prescription to ingest enriched oxygen. It isn’t a drug. Caffeine is a natural stimulus found in some foods. I don’t need a prescription to eat chocolate or to drink coffee. Melonium is not a natural mineral or vitamin. It is not an organic nutrient. And it it most certainly a drug. A drug which has only one purpose to manipulate blood for patients at risk for heart problems. You know, like the heart problem Sung Yang has. Unfortunately after December 31st it was a banned substance, prescription or no. All Russian athletes knew it would be on the banned substance list if tested January 1st,… Read more »


Caffeine has a limit as well. So it is entirely possible to consume enough caffeine from “natural” occurring foods and test positive. So using that as a test doesn’t really hold up either.


Yes, great points. I was more reacting to the above poster’s opinion that if you are doing something or taking something (prescribed or not) for the sole purpose of gaining a competitive advantage, then you’re a cheater. Rx meds are obviously where the line is drawn and what the above poster is probably referencing.


Or baking soda supplementation. I would put good money on every olympic finalist in events 200 and above doing it in competition (studies show a ~2s drop in events 200m and longer, with similar effects in runners and rowers over corresponding distances). Not medically necessary, nor does any reasonable diet contain such high amounts of it. Not banned, but it is definitely being used for a competitive edge, so is it ethical to do? I think the most reasonable argument for it is accessability. Not everyone can get ahold of/afford meldonium, but baking soda is super cheap and can be obtained at any grocery store. Ethically, I still have an issue with it, but I don’t worry so much about… Read more »

Joel Lin

Baking soda? Hadn’t heard that one before.


Yeah, taken in large amounts (.2-.3 g per kg, so for a 90 kg male, roughly 20-25g), it slows down the conversion of lactate into lactic acid, thus prolonging the time to exhaustion in the middle distance races. I don’t think any effect has been shown on events shorter than 1 minute, like 100’s. Seems to be 200’s and above (not sure how it effects the long distance races like the 10k swim).

A possible downside of taking that much all at once is some pretty gnarly gastrointestinal problems, but that can be mitigated or avoided entirely by breaking it into 3 doses about 8 hours apart.


Can you elaborate more on the baking soda? I tried it once or twice. And it did not go so well. I have read all about it but never spoke with someone who it worked for. At least when it came to swim races.

Irish Ringer

Don’t ask these guys, if you take anything to enhance performance you are a cheat. No protein, vitamins, maybe even chocolate milk. They are all natural, only organic for this elite group and even that’s questionable. You really should be taking things that knock you down a peg or two. Tap water instead of filtered for example 🙂


Man I forgot that you need a prescription for those? You totally changed my mind ban chocolate milk to many people are getting illegal subscriptions it’s rediculous. It’s only available to people in the united states so that’s unfair to. I can take things out of context and be sarcastic to. I love the people that just troll! If you have an opinion I would love to hear it rather than just hearing ridiculous parallels. I’m just trying to figure out in what world protein powder (vegetarians should just not be athletes because they don’t eat meat, vitamins (which can be found in food, should we stop eating, and chocolate milk (comes from a cow, natural substance). Their is a… Read more »

Irish Ringer

If you really want to know all joking aside here’s what I think: 1. Athletes have cheated for years and while I would prefer they didn’t and do not believe it to be right, it has continued for several generations. Retesting samples from past Olympics has been done at least since the 84 games and they always come back with several more positives than before. Simply put Athletes/Coaches/Federations/etc continue to find a way to stay ahead of the system and the desire to do so remains to this day. I have come to accept it in sports, not because I don’t care or I approve of it, but because the system has failed for at least 50 years now. If… Read more »


For what it’s worth, hGH and testosterone are natural substances, too. And we can make water in a lab…


I experimented with it once in an off-event at a sectional meet a few years ago, right after I heard about it. I took three doses of 7g, one at dinner the night before, one at breakfast the day of, and the third about an hour before my race. I dropped about 6 seconds, although it was not my strongest seed time to begin with (I had never focused on the event before that season) and I was tapered, suited, and shaved. There’s no way of knowing for sure exactly how much benefit the baking soda provided, though, since it might have been the taper/suit/shave that was responsible for the drop. Not the most scientifically valid experiment. All I can… Read more »


Do you feel it’s unethical to eat Tums prior to practice/competition?

Scott Morgan



High altitude tents (chambers) are illegal in Europe

Steve Nolan

Ryan Lochte wouldn’t have been able to compete at Trials without Toradol shots. Do you think he should be dropped from the team?

Joel Lin

Of course not, because he petitioned for permission and disclosed it as a medical condition. The officials could have exercised discretion to reject his request. Same for swimmers who disclose athsma medications prescribed by a doctor.

To my knowledge no Russian athlete has come forward with a diagnosed heart condition which requires a drug prescription. Not even close to the same thing.

Steve Nolan

Just find it weird everyone’s totally OK with injured athletes artificially enhancing their performance – so much so that, in many cases, they wouldn’t be able to compete otherwise – but go nuts if non-injured athletes use nearly identical substances.

Joel Lin

I think there is a clear distinction between an athlete submitting a request to gain medical treatment for an injury and being forthright about it versus an athlete taking a banned substance. Yes, Lochte’s performance was aided by medical treatment in the literal sense. That written, his request for the medical treatment under full re

Joel Lin

…under full reported disclosure could have been declined.

That’s a wide divide. For example, if Yulia had submitted paperwork to take this drug for any reason — prior condition, prior problem, any diagnosis from a doctor recommending it — she could have.


Creatin ?


Why would they extend it by 5 months??? That is ludicrous. Sept 30th is after Rio! They can basically dope with Meldonium through Rio even thought it has been “banned” since JANUARY!!! This is not fair. I hate the world sometimes.


What sucks even more is that WADA will retest samples from Rio AFTER the fact and those athletes will lose their medals, records, etc. They still get the media coverage and moment in the spotlight that someone should have been someone else’s lifetime moment. It makes me really tired of political pressure on things that should be cut and dry.


No they can’t, if it’s higher than a certain level in the body they’ll be banned

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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