What is meldonium and why did Maria Sharapova take it?

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova revealed on Monday that she had failed a drugs test at this year’s Australian Open and immediately brought meldonium to the world’s attention.

Meldonium is also known as mildronate, the name by which Sharapova knew the drug, having taken it since 2006.

But what do we know about the substance, why was the Russian taking it and why was it banned only this year?

• 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

• It increases blood flow, which improves exercise capacity in athletes

• Wada found “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”

• The decision to add meldonium to the banned list was approved on 16 September, 2015, and it came into effect on 1 January, 2016

• It is classed as an S4 substance under the Wada code, which addresses hormone and metabolic modulators

• A memo was sent out to athletes by Russia’s anti-doping agency last September informing them of the decision to ban its use

• Sharapova says she has been taking the drug for 10 years after she was regularly falling ill. She had a magnesium deficiency and family history of diabetes

• Fellow Russian athlete and Olympic gold medallist figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova admitted to testing positive to the drug on Monday

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 8th March 2016 00.01 Europe/London

Former tennis world number one Maria Sharapova announced on Monday that she had failed a drug test at this year’s Australian Open. Speaking at a press conference in Los Angeles, the 28-year-old Russian said she had been taking the substance called Mildronate (also called Meldonium) for the past 10 years, and that it only became illegal on 1 January 2016

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