MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) made a wise decision to define acceptable levels of banned performance enhancing drug meldonium remaining in the body system of an athlete after he or she stopped consuming the substance, Alexander Zhukov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), said on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, WADA announced that the concentration of less than one microgram of meldonium in the body system of an athlete, whose doping tests were conducted before March 1, was acceptable and the athlete at the issue was not a subject to any sanctions whatsoever.
"WADA made a correct decision," Zhukov told journalists. "The agency came to a conclusion that the terms [of meldonium’s exit from body] could exceed several weeks. Today it [WADA] decided against punishing the athletes. The right thing is also that the research will continue."
"I hope that the ongoing situation would be eventually settled," the ROC chief said. "Speaking about our [Russian] athletes, I can say that each case should be treated individually. A number of [sports] federations already spoke against punishing the athletes. We support the decision made by WADA. The decision is fair."
"Everyone is in constant dialogue with WADA," Zhukov said. "We are trying to protect the interests of our athletes."
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).
Meldronate is a cardiovascular preparation freely available for purchase at pharmacies across Russia without doctor’s prescription.
According to WADA’s data, a total of some 140 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.
Russian sports was in the center of doping-related scandals since the fall of 2014. Since early February control over doping abuse in Russian sports has been exercised by RUSADA only under the supervision of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD).
Last week Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced that UKAD was taking up to 200 doping samples from Russian athletes each month.