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MOSCOW, April 13 /TASS/. The situation involving Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, who has admitted to using the prohibited drug meldonium, may become clearer after April 21 when Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpishchev meets International Tennis Federation President David Haggerty.
On Wednesday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published its interim findings on meldonium, which WADA has blacklisted as a prohibited formula as of January 1, 2016. The presence of less than 1 mcg of meldonium in 1 milliliter of an athlete’s blood sample is permissible. If the meldonium concentration ranges from 1 to 15 mcg and the doping test was taken before March 1, 2016 or the meldonium concentration is less than 1mcg but the blood sample was taken after March 1, additional research will be conducted to establish when an athlete took meldonium for the last time. In the last two cases, it is up to a sport federation to decide if an athlete should be temporarily banned from competitions. The investigation will continue in all other cases.
"The situation with Sharapova may be settled after April 21, when I am going to meet the ITF president. The meeting is expected to bring some clarify into [Sharapova’s meldonium case]. It is too early to say that Sharapova is going to perform at the Olympics," Tarpishchev told TASS on Wednesday.
"There are more contenders for the Olympic Games participation than there are places in the Russian national women’s tennis team. But it is only Svetlana Kuznetsova who can be absolutely confident. We also hope that Maria Sharapova will still be able to participate in the games," Tarpishchev said a day earlier on Tuesday.
Early in March, Sharapova announced that her 2016 Australian Open blood sample contained meldonioum, which the World Anti-Doping Agency had blacklisted as a prohibited formula as of January 1, 2016. The formula refers to S4 class in the WADA list (hormones and metabolism modulators).
Athletes use meldonium (mildronate) to strengthen endurance to physical strains during training sessions as well as for easing emotional, nervous and psychological stresses at competitions.
Sharapova was temporarily suspended from tennis competitions as of March 12. She received a letter of notification about a positive doping test on March 2.
The maximum term of disqualification for meldonium use is 4 years. The disqualification period is calculated from the date of temporary suspension - as of March 12 in Sharapova’s case. A tennis player, the ITF and WADA have the right to appeal the decision in the course of 21 days since the moment the notification is received.
Sharapova is the winner of five Grand Slam tennis tournaments. She has also won a Federation Cup final as part of the Russian national team. She is also a woman singles silver medalist at the London Olympic Games. All in all, Sharapova has won 38 WTA tennis tournaments, including 35 in singles. She is 7th in the WTA rankings.
The 2016 Olympic Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5-21.