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Russian sports minister says meldonium users have right to seek participation in Olympics

May 25, 2016, 16:47 UTC+3

Russian sports has been in the center of doping-related scandals since last year

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. Russian athletes caught using the performance enhancing drug meldonium banned since early 2016 and cleared by Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) to return to competitions have the right to seek their participation at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Wednesday.

The presidium of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) made amendments at its latest session to the criteria of selecting athletes for participation in the Rio Olympics. The criteria include a provision that any potential participant in the Olympic Games caught in doping abuse in previous years cannot be a member of the Russian national team at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"The general position on meldonium is as follows: so far, it has been placed outside the limits," Mutko said. "There is no final decision from the viewpoint of the time needed for it to leave an athlete’s body system and the research continues," the sports minister said.

"Correspondingly, all those athletes who took meldonium in small concentrations until March 1 have already been cleared," the minister said.

"And those athletes who took the drug after March 1 have been returned to the sports but no decision has been made on them so far. Naturally, this right does not apply to them yet," Mutko said.

A source in the ARAF earlier told TASS that the athletes caught using meldonium had the right to seek their participation at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil because they had not been suspended from competitions.

In mid-April, RUSADA cleared athletes Nadezhda Kotlyarova, Olga Vovk, Gulshat Fazletdinova and Andrei Minzhulin suspended earlier after their doping samples tested positive for meldonium banned since January 1, this year.

Russian sports has been in the center of doping-related scandals since last year. Starting this year doping control in Russian sports has been exercised by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) strictly under the supervision of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD).

WADA’s Independent Commission published on November 9 last year the results of its probe into the activity of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, the RUSADA and the Russian Sports Ministry.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances.

RUSADA and the Moscow anti-doping laboratory subsequently suspended their activities, while WADA’s Board of Founders approved the finding of the agency’s Independent Commission that RUSADA did not comply with the Code of the international anti-doping organization.

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