MOSCOW, April 27 /TASS/. The meldonium concentration in the blood sample of Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova exceeds the permissible level, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said in an interview aired by Match TV, a Russian public sports channel, on Wednesday.
"Masha’s case is more complicated. The [meldonium] concentration in her blood is above the norm. Masha took the formula for several year on her doctor’s prescription. I am not going to announce if she will be able to avoid punishment or not. We just want her to restore her position in sport," Mutko stressed.
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. The 2016 Olympic Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5-21.