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
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