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Europe’s boxing champ took meldonium two weeks prior to title defense bout — agent

April 11, 18:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The doping sample of Igor Mikhalkin (18-1, 9 KOs) was taken on March 12 this year following the Russian boxer’s successful title defense bout against French opponent Patrick Bois on that day in France
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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

MOSCOW, April 11. /TASS/. Russia’s European boxing champion in light heavyweight division Igor Mikhalkin, who was announced earlier in the day to test positive for banned performance enhancing drug meldonium, consumed the drug last time in February, his agent Erol Ceylan told TASS on Monday.

The doping sample of Mikhalkin (18-1, 9 KOs) was taken on March 12 this year following the Russian boxer’s successful title defense bout against French opponent Patrick Bois on that day in France.

"He stopped to take meldonium two weeks before the fight on March 12," Ceylan said in an interview with TASS.

"He got the suspensions from the EBU [European Boxing Union] for two years and from the German Boxing Federation - nine months," Ceylan said. "But I am sure that the German Boxing Federation will forgive him after three or six months so maybe he can fight in September again."

Asked whether the boxer intended to go for the Probe B test, Ceylan said "we do not want to open it because Igor [Mikhalkin] said he took it [meldonium]."

"It will make no sense to open the Probe B," Mikhalkin’s promoter added.

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).

WorldBoxingNews web portal quoted Mikhalkin earlier on Monday as saying: "It is true that I have recently taken meldonium."

"Until a few months ago that was allowed, and absolutely consistently in Russia," the 30-year-old Russian boxer said. "I did not realize that it is now forbidden. I had stopped it anyway, but apparently it takes a long time until it is completely degraded from the body."

Meldronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without doctor’s prescription.

Mikhalkin also said he fully admitted the fact of taking the banned substance and was ready for accepting the any sort of the responsibility adding that "Ignorance is no defense."

"I have made a mistake, and I'm very sorry," Mikhalkin said. "I stand for a clean sport and will never again take any medication without checking several times before that everything is in order. I hope that my punishment is not too severe."

WADA told TASS earlier in the month that a total of some 130 doping samples worldwide tested positive for meldonium, including up to 30 Russian athletes. Among them are tennis star Maria Sharapova, Olympic medalist in swimming Yulia Efimova and Olympic medalist in speed skating Pavel Kulizhnikov.

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