MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. The number of Russian athletes caught using banned meldonium in the near future could reach 30 people, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Saturday in an interview with Match TV channel.
"We need to understand each case," Mutko said. "We have 27 cases. It is possible that it could be around 30 now - from 123," he added.
Ealier Mutko said he planed to meet heads of the country’s sports federations to discuss the doping issue. "I plan to meet heads of federations in order to discuss the doping issue," the Minister said in an interview aired by the Match TV sports channel Saturday.
Russian sports was hit early this month by a new case in a chain of doping-related scandals after some of the country’s athletes tested positive for banned substance meldonium.
The drug meldonium (mildronate) was included in the list of preparations banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from January 1, 2016. The presence of the meldonium substance 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). Athletes use meldonium (mildronate) to increase resistance to high strenuous activity and physical strain during training sessions as well as for easing emotional, nervous and psychological stresses at competitions. The formula is also used for preventive treatment of heart problems predominantly in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Earlier WADA confirmed 123 cases of athletes tested positive for meldonium. The names of at least 22 Russian athletes suspended for the use of the banned preparation are already known, among them speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, swimmer Yulia Efimova, tennis player Maria Sharapova.