Doping situation in Russia very much politicised: Sports minister

Moscow, March 27 (IANS) Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko believes the doping situation in Russia is very much politicised.

A new wave of doping abuse cases in Russian sport has been connected with the use of banned drug Meldonium. It was banned on January 1, 2016, reports Tass.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said earlier that 123 athletes have tested positive for the drug.

The names of at least 22 Russian athletes suspected for use of the banned substance have been made public, among them speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, swimmer Yulia Efimova and tennis player Maria Sharapova.

“Really, we have found ourselves in a very difficult situation,” Mutko said on Saturday.

“If doping is mentioned, the situation is much politicised. There is a saying in Russia: ‘who is guilty and what to do?’ I said let me be the guilty one. But we will look into what to do. Now we should calm down and handle the situation.”

“An athlete should be punished fairly but now it turns out that they were taking Meldonium unintentionally,” Mutko added.

“WADA has not carried out any research how long the substance stays in the human body. We filed a request and were answered that there had been no research.”

Athletes use Meldonium, also known as Mildronate, to increase resistance to high strenuous activity and physical strain during training sessions as well as for easing emotional, nervous and psychological stresses at competitions.

The substance is widely used in the clinical practice as well. Mildronate is widely used in the post-Soviet space for preventing heart disease.

The presence of this substance identified in the athlete’s blood during or between competitions is a violation of the current anti-doping rules as it was added to the WADA list of banned substances on September 16, 2015 effective starting January 1, 2016.

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