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Russian sports minister urges law enforcement to investigate doping scandal

March 10, 2016, 12:32 UTC+3 MOSCOW March, 10. /TASS

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko also noted that "possibly criminal responsibility will be expanded" for athletes using doping

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© AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has called on the law enforcement agencies to investigate the doping row.

"Meldonium is banned. Period. [It has been on the black list of the World Anti-Doping Agency since January 1, 2016 - TASS]. This means that we should no longer use it," Mutko said. "I do hope that all these cases will force the athletes and federations to avoid using this formula. I would like the law enforcement agencies to check everything. An administrative investigation is necessary. I do not rule out that some legal amendments may follow. Possibly criminal responsibility will be expanded. For now administrative punishment should certainly be introduced."

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in February hosted a meeting of the council of experts who discussed the possibility of introducing criminal punishment for the violation of anti-doping rules. A member of the committee for physical culture, sports and youth affairs, Sergey Alekseyev, said the committee looked into foreign experience to have drafted four amendments to the Criminal Code. Athletes using doping may face a prison term of two to four years.

Meldonium (also known as mildronate) was blacklisted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, 2016. Several Russian athletes have since tested positive. The presence of this formula in the athlete’s blood during and between competition is a violation of anti-doping rules. The substance belongs with S4 class on the WADA black list (hormones and metabolic modulators).

Those who have proved to have used meldonium since are cyclist Eduard Vorganov, figure skater Yekaterina Bobrova, tennis player Maria Sharapova, skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, short-track skaters Semion Elistratov and Ekaterina Konstantinova, volleyball player Aleksandr Markin and biathlete Eduard Latypov.

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