Russian sports minister calls on athletes to stop taking Meldonium

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Moscow, March 22 (IANS) Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Tuesday called on all Russian athletes to immediately stop taking the banned drug Meldonium.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has banned the cardiovascular drug since January 1, 2016. At a meeting with the staff of his ministry, Mutko said that athletes have to stop taking this drug, noting that the withdrawal of the drug from markets has not been discussed yet, reports Efe.

Both Russian experts and Latvian firm Grindex, the medication producer, pointed out that the effects of this drug can remain within the body for several months.

Mutko recalled that the inclusion of Meldonium in the list of drugs prohibited by the WADA “was known by all” since September 2015, stressing that all necessary steps should be taken to put an end to doping among Russian athletes.

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The Russian Athletics Federation, which has been suspended after revealing violations related to doping, announced on Monday that four Russian athletes tested positive for Meldonium in the national championships held in February.

Russian media outlets reported on Tuesday that some 40 Russian athletes over 10 sports, tested positive for the drug since the beginning of 2016.

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