‘Meldonium users have right to seek participation in Rio’

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Moscow, May 25 (IANS) Russian athletes caught using the banned performance enhancing drug Meldonium but cleared by Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) to return to competitions have the right to participate at the 2016 Rio Olympics, sports minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday.

The presidium of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) made amendments at its latest session to the criteria for selecting athletes for participation in the Rio Olympics, reports Tass.

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 forthcoming Olympics in Rio.

“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.”

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“Correspondingly, all those athletes who took Meldonium in small concentrations until March 1 have already been cleared,” the sports minister added.

“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.

Meldonium was banned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) in January this year.

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.

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

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WADA’s independent commission published on November 9 last year the results of its probe into the activity of ARAF, the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, 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 organisation.



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