RIGA, March 9. /TASS/. Each known case into the use of recently banned drug meldonium by athletes of Russia’s national team is investigated separately, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Wednesday.
"Investigation is conducted into each of the cases of meldonium use in our team. Every situation that occurred is individual and now we have no right to give any comment," Mutko said.
Meldonium, which is primarily used to treat heart-related conditions and also increases athletic endurance, was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances on January 1, 2016.
"As for meldonium, this drug has been already included in the list of those banned and this should be perceived as a fact. This drug is not supplied to the Russian team," the minister said.
"For us the first task is to do so that no one even thinks of taking it. This is very important," Mutko stressed.
Six Russian athletes have been linked to the use of meldonium, also known as mildronate.
On Monday, Russian figure skater Yekaterina Bobrova tested positive for the banned substance. Later that day, Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova announced that she had failed a drug test at this year’s Australian Open.
Meldonium was also found in the anti-doping samples provided by five-time world champion speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, short track speed skater and Sochi Olympic champion Semion Yelistratov, and Alexander Markin, a member of the Russian volleyball team.