Former World Number One Tennis Champion, Maria Sharapova has failed the doping test at the Australian Open.
“I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it,” Sharapova said to BBC. She won the Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old in 2004.
“For the past 10 years I have been given a medicine called mildronate by my family doctor and a few days ago after I received a letter from the ITF [International Tennis Federation]. I found out it also has another name of meldonium, which I did not know.”
Meldonium is also known as mildronate. Meldonium is used to treat ischaemia: a lack of blood flow to parts of the body. It is manufactured in Latvia and not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.
This is not the first time when such an incident has come into light. Athletes in several sports have reportedly tested positive for the substance since it was placed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list this year after being on its Monitoring List in 2015.
One of those who reportedly failed a test was Abeba Aregawi, a Swedish runner who won the women’s 1,500 meters at the 2013 world championships. Also Monday, the Russian ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova announced that she had tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships, reports New York Times.
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In a statement, the International Tennis Federation confirmed, “Following the statement made by Maria Sharapova in a press conference today, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) can confirm the following:
– On 26 January 2016, Ms Sharapova provided an anti-doping sample to the TADP in association with her participation in the 2016 Australian Open.
– That sample was analysed by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory, which returned a positive for meldonium, which is a prohibited substance under the WADA Code and, therefore also the TADP.
– In accordance with Article 8.1.1 of the TADP, Ms Sharapova was charged on 2 March with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
– Ms. Sharapova has accepted the finding of meldonium in her sample collected on 26 January.