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Russian sports minister denies allegations Rostov FC players used meldonium

May 13, 10:24 UTC+3
On Thursday, all 11 players of Rostov’s first team were subjected to doping control after a match of the Russian championship against Dynamo Moscow (3:1) at the initiative of FIFA
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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 13. /TASS/. The reports alleging that the players of Russia’s Rostov football club could use the banned substance meldonium are false and unfounded, Russian Sports Minister, President of the Russian Football Union (RFU) Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Friday.

On Thursday, all 11 players of Rostov’s first team were subjected to doping control after a match of the 28th round of the Russian championship against Dynamo Moscow (3:1) at the initiative of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). The head of FIFA medical department, Jiri Dvorak, told TASS that FIFA initiated doping control of FC Rostov players pending the rumors they were using meldonium, a metabolic agent prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). He said he had initiated the probing personally. FIFA did not issue a forward notice on the visit of a multinational team of controllers to the stadium where Rostov had played against FC Dynamo Moscow in the 28th round of Russia’s national championship.

"The allegations about meldonium in Rostov are absolutely false fabrications," Mutko said. "Russia is preparing for the FIFA World Cup, and the International Federation of Association Football begins to control football in Russia also in terms of doping. Thus, the Russian national team has been subjected to doping control in France. I suppose that they (FIFA) have drawn up the schedule of doping control of the leaders of the Russian championship."

"Working on doping based on rumors is prospectless"

"The FIFA Congress is currently underway," Mutko said. "It’s prospectles to carry out the doping work based on rumors. I’d like to repeat that a special decision has been made on meldonium - the athletes who have used meldonium are returning to sports. We yet need to make out why the whole Rostov team and why after that game (were subjected to doping test)."

"There is nothing extraordinary here, they (the doping officers) came and take samples. We are all working under FIFA and UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations). I also have questions why they have come. If the team has no problems, what’s the use in contriving? If there are no problems, then they (the football players) will smile tomorrow and go ahead. If there are rumors, they will be denied," Mutko said.

Asked if the players of the Russian national teams have successfully passed doping control this spring, Mutko replied: "We have no information. If there is something negative, it is reported to the athlete first. Neither the federation nor the athletes have received any notifications."

WADA decision on meldonium

In mid-April, WADA published interim findings on the meldonium substance that was banned as of January 1, 2016. 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. According to the agency, the presence of less than 1 mcg of meldonium in 1 milliliter of an athlete’s blood sample is permissible. In cases when 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 1 mcg but the blood sample was taken after March 1, additional research will be conducted to establish the time when an athlete took meldonium for the last time. Regarding the last two instances, it is up to a sport federation to decide if an athlete should be temporarily banned from competitions. Investigations would continue in all other individual cases.

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