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LONDON, April 14. /TASS/. A doping case involving Russia’s tennis star and former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova will be considered by the Tribunal of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) with the account of recently announced thaw of requirements concerning banned substance meldonium, the ITF announced in its statement on Thursday.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced on Wednesday 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.
"In light of the recent notice from WADA regarding the process for dealing with cases involving meldonium, the ITF can confirm that the Tennis Anti-Doping Program case involving Maria Sharapova will proceed to a hearing in accordance with WADA's recommendations," the ITF said in a statement published on its official website.
"The ITF does not intend to make any further statement until completion of this process due to the confidentiality of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program," the statement added.
Early last month Sharapova told a news conference in Los Angeles that recent doping tests revealed the presence of performance enhancing drug meldonium in her body system.
Shamil Tarpishchev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), said two weeks ago that the hearings of the ITF Tribunal into Sharapova’s case could be postponed until June.
In line with the ITF regulations, initial hearings on an alleged doping abuse by a tennis player should take place within three weeks after the results of the doping tests were announced. In case with Sharapova the hearings should have begun on March 23.
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.