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Inventor: Ban on meldonium may contribute to higher death rate in athletes

March 09, 21:48 UTC+3 RIGA RIGA March, 9. /TASS
Ivars Kalvins has offered help to anybody who will challenge World Anti-Doping Agency‘s decision to outlaw the formula
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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

RIGA, March 9. /TASS/. The inventor of meldonium has warned that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to outlaw the formula may soon contribute to a higher death rate in professional athletes.

Ivars Kalnins, of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, invented meldonium (also known as mildronate) back in the Soviet era. Since January 1, 2016 the drug has featured on WADA’s blacklist. Several Russian athletes have proven to have used it lately.

"The ban on the drug is a crime," said Kalvins. "We are surely to see the rate of deaths of professional athletes after competitions climb. Who will be responsible for that? Certainly, not WADA people. They will be throwing hands up in confusion. The blame will be placed squarely on the athletes for breaking the limits. Their decision strips the athletes of a chance to protect themselves and stay alive."

"The formula has been on the market for 32 years. And all of a sudden it is blacklisted. Fine, just fine. The athletes have been punished for their wish to go on living," said Kalvins.

The presence of this substance identified in the athlete’s blood during or between competitions is a violation of the current anti-doping rules. It belongs with the S4 class on WADA’s blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators).

Scientists have no data as to how long meldonium stays in human body

According to the drug's inventor, no scientist in the world still has clear statistics that might confirm how long it takes meldonium to leave the human body.

"WADA has blacklisted it as a prohibited formula, but nobody knows for how long it may stay in the human body. Nobody has ever conducted research into this matter yet," Kalvins said. "There had been no need for such research. Clearly, it may be not hours, but days, or possibly weeks. It all depends on the accuracy of the method of testing. You may identify the traces of medications you took three months ago, provided you have the equipment that is sensitive enough."

Kalvins explained that from the medical point of view it is important to know the period over which 50% percent of the drug in question leaves the human body, and not the entire amount.

"For medical purposes it is essential to know the period of half-dissimilation. In other words, the period of time when half of the drug is out," he said. "In some cases this may happen over 18 hours, and in others, over eight hours. But nobody cares how much time will be necessary for the ‘tailing’ to disappear without a trace. Will the drug begin to be accumulated in the human body if you start taking it again? No statistics are available at this point."

Meldonium inventor ready to help anybody to challenge his formula’s ban

Ivars Kalvins has offered help to anybody who will challenge WADA‘s decision to outlaw the formula.

"I do not know whom to fight," Kalvins said. "If anybody who starts this struggle asks me for my expert conclusion, I will be glad to help. If anybody called it a doping, I could challenge it. However, it [meldonium] belongs with the S4 class on WADA’s blacklist," Academician Kalvins told TASS.

"What will happen if the Russian side asks me for help in collecting evidence? I always meet common sense halfway. However, I see no common sense in what is happening now. The only thing I see is that someone is jealous that somewhere athletes take this drug," Kalvins stressed.

Earlier, it turned out that six Russian athletes took the prohibited drug meldonium after January 1.

At the beginning of February Katyusha cyclist Eduard Vorganov’s doping test proved the athlete had used meldonium. On March 7, Russian figure skater Yekaterina Bobrova was exposed as a meldonium abuser and in the evening of the same day woman tennis player Maria Sharapova declared that her test sample taken during the 2016 Australian Open contained meldonium. The next day saw reports of three more such incidents involving speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, short-tracker Semion Elistratov and volleyball player Aleksandr Markin. Kravtsov said another member of the Russian women’s short-track skating team was suspected of using meldonium but her name was not to be disclosed at this point.

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