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WADA opens way for athletes to avoid sanctions for meldonium

WADA opens way for athletes to avoid sanctions for meldonium

WADA said in a notice on Wednesday that athletes who tested positive for meldonium before March 1could have bans overturned as the agency was unable to establish how quickly the drug cleared the human body.

The announcement could allow tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, who failed a test for meldonium in January, and other banned athletes to return to competition, Russian officials said.

And WADA has now stated: "In the case of meldonium, there is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times".

WADA spokesman Ben Nichols emphatically added that the latest development on reducing sanctions against meldonium "in no way" serves as an "amnesty" for athletes that have "committed an anti-doping rule violation".

In perhaps another auspicious sign for Sharapova, the notice was trumpeted by Russia's anti-doping agency on Wednesday before being posted on WADA's website.

WADA said 172 positive tests for meldonium have been recorded so far in various sports and countries - many in Russian Federation - since the drug was prohibited.

Jeremy Corbyn and George Osborne release tax returns
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We've been saying for weeks that because there were so many positives tests for meldonium, there was a good chance that many of them were the result of ingestion before the drug was officially banned on January 1, 2016.

For her part, Russian Sports Minister's anti-doping advisor, Natalya Zhelanova, said that approximately 40-43 Russian athletes have tested positive for meldonium, but some of their cases are not with RUSADA but with worldwide sports federations, which, too, will consider their cases on an individual basis.

On Monday, WADA admitted that there is next to no reliable evidence about how long meldonium persists in an athlete's body.

The organization's president, Craig Reedie, has stated that consideration over the reason for the use of the outlawed substance, when it was taken and in what dosages, will be made when handing down disciplinary measures. Last week, the entire team of Russian national hockey team under-18 pulled out of the World Championship, not to mention Maria Sharapova, who has been provisionally banned from tennis in March.

Sharapova's lawyer John Haggerty says that today's revelation "is proof of how poorly they handled issues relating to Meldonium in 2015". It turns out there are questions over how long the substance will remain in the body and some athletes claim they stopped taking the drug in January and still failed the test. The agency said that some athletes may be found to have no fault or negligence if their samples were taken before March 1 and yielded a concentration of meldonium below a given threshold.


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