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MOSCOW, March 21. /TASS/. The issues related to the prohibited drug meldonium should not be linked with the athletics control system, which has been launched and is working normally, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Monday.
The personal coach of Russian female athlete Nadezhda Kotlyarova told TASS on Sunday that she had tested positive for meldonium. News came on Monday that four athletes had lately tested positive for the prohibited drug. As TASS has learnt, these are Kotlyarova, Gulshat Fazletdinova, Andrei Minzhulin and Olga Vovk.
‘The system of athletics control has been launched and it is working normally," Mutko said.
"All who are preparing for the Games are under control. The issue of meldonium is a separate issue. Potential candidates for the Rio de Janeiro Games have been determined. Each of them will be tested no less than three times before the trip. The testing plans are absolutely clear. Athletes have been warned that they will be controlled any time. Their task is to prepare for the international starts," Mutko said.
The membership of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was suspended in mid-November over a series of doping scandals.
The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency from January 1, 2016.
Overall, 102 athletes have already tested positive for meldonium. The names of 15 athletes, who used the banned preparation, including 11 Russians, are already known. Apart from Kotlyarova, the Russian athletes who tested positive for meldonium include speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, biathlete Eduard Latypov, cyclist Eduard Vorganov, figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova, tennis player Maria Sharapova, short-track skaters Semyon Elistratov and Ekaterina Konstantinova, volleyball player Alexander Markin and rugby players Alexey and Alena Mikhaltsov.
Russian swimmer Yulia Yefimova was also suspended from competitions over the breach of anti-doping rules. According to TASS information, she tested positive for meldonium.
A source also told TASS on Thursday that this substance had been found in the doping sample of Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva.
The presence of this formula in the athlete’s blood during and between competitions is a violation of anti-doping rules. The substance belongs to S4 class on the WADA blacklist (hormones and metabolic modulators).
Meanwhile, the drug producer, the Latvian firm Grindex said earlier on its website that "Mildronate is widely used in the clinical practice. During increased physical activity, it restores the oxygen balance of tissue cells as well as it activates the metabolic processes that results in lower requirements of oxygen consumption for energy production. Mildronate is widely recognized by health care professionals and patients, and this may include athletes as well."