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Wednesday 05, Oct 2016

  Doping Ban Of Maria Sharapova Reduced

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport has reduced doping ban on tennis player Maria Sharapova. The CAS announced the two-year ban on Sharapova has been reduced by nine months.

Sharapova remarked she had learned a lesson from the “tough months” behind her. In a message to fans on her Facebook page, Maria Sharapova said she feels in so many ways like something she loves was taken away from her and it will feel really good to have it back.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) handed the original ban – backdated to start on January 26, 2016 to Sharapova, a five-time major singles champion, following her positive test for the drug Meldonium. The 29-year-old Sharapova had termed the original ruling of the ITF as “unfairly harsh” as an independent tribunal had found that the tennis player had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules.

Sharapova did admit to making use of Meldonium during the season’s opening major in Melbourne but said she had been unaware that it had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Sharapova went on to say that she started to believe the ITF tried to make an example of her by handing her a two-year ban after she tested positive for Meldonium.  The substance was added to the list of banned substances of WADA at the start of the year after mounting evidence that it has the ability to improve blood flow and enhance athletic performance.

Sharapova was backed up by her attorney John Haggerty who criticized the ITF for their failure to properly warn his client. Haggerty remarked Maria took responsibility for her mistake and the ITF handled this matter poorly from start to finish. The attorney of Sharapova added it is time for the International Tennis Federation to take responsibility for its mistakes and change its procedures so that this can never happen to another player. Haggerty added the ITF has a lot to learn based on this ruling.

In response, the ITF issued a statement in which it remarked it had taken appropriate action to inform players, including Sharapova, of changes to the banned list. The world governing body of tennis said it would continue to review the way it communicated with them. The ITF statement further reads it believes that the appropriate steps were taken to publicize any changes to the Prohibited List and added we have nonetheless reviewed, and will continue to review, our processes for communicating changes to the Prohibited List to players with the aim of ensuring that no player can claim that they had not been fully informed.

The CAS arbitration panel ruled she had committed an anti-doping rule violation for which “she bore some degree of fault”. The panel also remarked the decision to reduce the ban concerned solely on the degree of fault that can be imputed to the player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product that she had been taking over a long period remained in compliance with the anti-doping rules.

Maria Sharapova can now expect herself to be back in the court as early as the 2017 French Open, scheduled to begin on May 29.

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Tuesday 13, Sep 2016

  Sharapova Doping Ban Appeal’s Decision By CAS In Early October

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A decision on the appeal by former tennis world number 1 Maria Sharapova against a doping ban of two years will be issued in the first week of next month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said.

The 29-year-old was banned in June by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) following a positive test for the banned drug Meldonium during January’s Australian Open. The five-time grand slam winner was named in the official entry list of Russia for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided in July to defer its decision on her appeal against the ban.

Meldonium was added to the list of banned substances of the World Anti-doping Agency at the start of this year after evidence emerged that the drug can boost blood flow and enhance athletic performance. Made in Latvia and only distributed in Baltic countries and Russia, Meldonium is used to treat Ischaemia. The drug is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States and is not authorized in the rest of Europe.

In January, Maria Sharapova disclosed she had used Meldonium for health issues after being given it by her family doctor. The tennis star said she did received an email on December 22 from WADA that was meant to remind her of alterations to the list of banned substances but added that she did not click on the link provided.

Sharapova had called the ruling of ITF as “unfairly harsh” as it was found by an independent tribunal that she had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules. The ITF however ruled that the use of Meldonium by Maria Sharapova is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels.

In a strongly-worded statement, the International Tennis Federation had remarked there was in 2016 no diagnosis and no therapeutic advice supporting the continuing use of Mildronate (Meldonium) whatever the position may have been in 2006. The ITF had also remarked she would have consulted a medical practitioner if she had believed that there was a continuing medical need to use Mildronate. The ITF statement also said it may be that she genuinely believed that Mildronate had some general beneficial effect on her health but the manner in which the medication was taken, its concealment from the anti-doping authorities, her failure to disclose it even to her own team, and the lack of any medical justification must inevitably lead to the conclusion that she took Mildronate for the purpose of enhancing her performance.

Sharapova has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions and earned silver for Russia in women’s singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She was named one of the “100 Greatest of All Time” by Tennis Channel in March 2012 and has been named highest paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years by Forbes. The Russian professional tennis player is the only Russian to hold the career Grand Slam.

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Wednesday 13, Jul 2016

  Sharapova’s Rio Olympics Ambitions Dashed

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Russian professional tennis player Maria Sharapova has been ruled out of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after a ruling on her appeal against a two-year doping ban was postponed until September.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport remarked the International Tennis Federation and Sharapova had agreed to defer the decision that had been due to be issued by next Monday. It was also remarked by CAS that both parties asked for more time to prepare their cases and also cited “scheduling conflicts” with a verdict now expected by September 19. Both parties previously had agreed to an “expedited procedure” allowing the CAS to issue a ruling this month and decide on the ban that could have made Maria eligible for the Olympics in August.

In a statement, the CAS said the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts.  Sharapova’s lawyer, John Haggerty, remarked the decision was by mutual agreement and will give Maria’s team additional time to prepare its case. Haggerty added CAS is the court of final appeal and this extension will be helpful and also commented that we are hopeful Maria’s suspension will be reduced, but in all cases, these additional two months will not impact our expectations of what can be achieved.

Sharapova was named as one of four Russian players to compete in the women’s singles in Rio Olympics alongside Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Daria Kasatkina. In her absence, Sharapova’s place will now be taken by Ekaterina Makarova, the fifth-ranked Russian woman.

Last month, Sharapova filed an appeal to reduce or overturn the suspension imposed by the world governing body of lawn tennis. Sharapova failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open and admitted to using Meldonium, which is a banned substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code since the start of this year. Maria Sharapova was suspended from playing tennis for a period of two years on June 8, 2016 by the ITF. This was despite Maria claiming that she took the drug before it was banned and for health reasons only on the recommendation of her doctor over a period of ten years.

A five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player lost all ranking points and prize money she earned in Melbourne. Maria termed the decision of the ITF to ban her for two years “an unfairly harsh” punishment. The ban on Sharapova is due to end on Jan. 25, 2018, which would keep her out of eight Grand Slam tournaments, along with the Olympics.

Maria was the 2004 Wimbledon champion at age 17 and took no. 1 in the rankings at 18; U.S. Open champion at 19 and became Australian Open champion at 20. The former No. 1-ranked player is one of 10 women in tennis history with a career Grand Slam and was named one of the “100 Greatest of All Time” by Tennis Channel in March 2012. Maria was named highest paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years by Forbes and earned US$285 million including prize money since she turned pro in 2001.

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Thursday 09, Jun 2016

  Maria Sharapova Suspended for Two Years

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In a report issued on Wednesday, the International Tennis Federation has announced five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has been suspended from competition for two years. This was after she failed a drug test at this year’s Australian Open for Meldonium (Mildronate), a drug used to increase blood flow.

Meldonium was banned on January 1, 2016 by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Maria Sharapova claimed she was taking the substance since 2006 and was not aware that the status of the drug had been changed. The ITF said while the violation of the rules by Sharapova was not intentional, but she is the sole author of her misfortune and bears sole responsibility for the contravention, and very significant fault, in failing to take any steps to check whether the continued use of this medicine was permissible.

Sharapova said she will “immediately appeal” in a Facebook post. The Russian tennis star said she cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension and remarked the tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that she did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. The five-time Grand Slam champion added she will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In March, Sharapova was provisionally suspended after she announced at a Los Angeles press conference that she had failed a doping test for Meldonium in January. The tennis star however did not mention that she also failed an out-of-competition test for the same drug in February, which was highlighted by the ITF panel’s 33-page ruling.

The ruling says the manner of its use, on match days and when undertaking intensive training, is only consistent with an intention to boost her energy levels. The ITF panel also said it may be that she genuinely believed that Mildronate had some general beneficial effect on her health but the manner in which the medication was taken, its concealment from the anti-doping authorities, her failure to disclose it even to her own team, and the lack of any medical justification must inevitably lead to the conclusion that she took Mildronate for the purpose of enhancing her performance. It was further found by the panel that only her father and her manager, Max Eisenbud of IMG, knew she was taking the drug then.

The ITF panel also discovered that Maria Sharapova also did not note her use of Mildronate on any of the seven doping control forms she turned in from October 22, 2014, to January 26, 2016. The decision said she must have known that taking a medication before a match, particularly one not currently prescribed by a doctor, was of considerable significance and it was further added this was a deliberate decision, not a mistake. The ITF panel also ruled keeping her Meldonium use from her team and anti-doping authorities constituted a very serious breach of her duty to comply with the rules.

Meanwhile, Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev has remarked Ekaterina Makarova would take the spot of Maria Sharapova on the country’s Summer Games roster.

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Sunday 22, May 2016

  Sharapova Could End Career After Doping Hearing

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Russian Tennis Federation head Shamil Tarpishchev has remarked it is unlikely tennis star Maria Sharapova would get a relief from an International Tennis Federation (ITF) anti-doping hearing in London on Wednesday.

The president of the Russian tennis federation said Maria may not play again after she tested positive for the banned substance Meldonium. Later, Tarpishchev said he only said that she can’t play now because no ruling on her case has been issued.

The five-time grand slam champion stunned the world in March when she announced she had returned a positive test for Meldonium, the Latvian-made heart medication that was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) banned list from January 1.

Meldonium is a drug used for treating Ischemia and only distributed in Baltic countries and Russia. Meldonium, which improves exercise capacity in athletes, is not authorized in the rest of Europe and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.

In April this year, WADA admitted there was a lack of scientific certainty on how long Meldonium takes to be completely excreted. It was previously believed that the substance should be out of the system of an athlete within days but WADA now believes it could be present in long-term users, in trace amounts, for weeks, if not months. This finding prompted WADA to issue new guidance that samples collected before 1 March below a certain concentration of Meldonium could be discarded, as the athlete might be able to prove they had stopped taking it in 2015.

WADA’s amnesty to athletes will not help Maria as she had admitted taking it throughout January. Sharapova now needs to convince an International Tennis Federation panel that there were health reasons as also told by her lawyer John Haggerty. The lawyer remarked Maria did use the substance but only on her doctor’s advice, throughout January. In March, Haggerty referred Maria should qualify her for a backdated therapeutic use exemption (TUE), or sick note.

Sharapova admitted she had been taking the substance on orders of her doctor for 10 years and had failed to note that it had become a banned substance until hearing of her failed test at the first grand slam of the year. The world’s highest-paid sportswoman was provisionally suspended on March 12 pending the hearing. Sharapova has lost a number of her lucrative sponsorship deals and hopes she would be allowed to play again.

he maximum punishment available is four years but it is believed she would get a lenient ban between six and 12 months, which would start from the date of her provisional suspension on 12 March. However, this would mean Maria missing out on the remaining grand slams this season, including Wimbledon, and the Rio Olympics.

The Russian professional tennis player, who is ranked world No. 9 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), is one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam. Sharapova’s 35 singles titles and five Grand Slam titles include two at the French Open and one each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

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Tuesday 26, Apr 2016

  Rafael Nadal Sues French Official For Doping Allegation

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Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal has filed lawsuit on Monday against a former French minister who accused him of doping. Nadal reiterated he has never taken performance enhancing drugs and fed up of accusations made without any evidence.

Nadal, who is widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player in history, said the lawsuit was filed as he needs to defend his integrity and image as an athlete. Nadal remarked a defamation suit was filed in Paris by his lawyers against Roselyne Bachelot, France’s former minister for health and sport, because of her “offensive remarks” last month on French television.

Bachelot said on the TV show Le Grand 8 that the seven-month injury hiatus of Nadal in 2012 was “probably due to a positive doping test.” The ex-minister made the comments in the wake of the failed doping test of Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova. The remarks of Bachelot upset Nadal and outraged Spaniards, including many fellow athletes who were quick to speak up in defense of Nadal. Bachelot was also loudly criticized by the Spanish Olympic Committee and members of the Spanish government.

Toni Nadal, Nadal’s coach and uncle, called Bachelot “an imbecile,” according to Spanish news media. Toni Nadal said his nephew Rafa has passed multiple drug tests every year and is committed to competing in a clean sport. Toni added Rafa’s lawyer is working to take all possible measures and with maximum force and also remarked in this world, instead of proving the guilt of a person, you have to prove your innocence. The coach of Rafael said Rafa goes through many doping controls every year even though he has done nothing and will do nothing wrong.

Alejandro Blanco, the president of Spain’s Olympic committee, remarked he would like Rafael Nadal to be the country’s flag bearer at the Rio de Janeiro Games, in part to make a statement after accusations by Bachelot. Nadal was previously selected as the flag bearer of Spain for the 2012 London Olympics but missed the Games because of an injury.

One of Spain’s biggest sports idols, Nadal is a 14-time Grand Slam champion and the gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

In a statement, Rafael Nadal said he intends not only to defend his integrity through this case and his image as an athlete but also the values he has defended his entire career. Nadal added he also wishes to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished. Nadal, currently ranked world No. 5, also commented that any compensation awarded by the judge if he wins the case will be paid to a non-governmental organization or foundation in France. Nadal also said he asks for total respect regarding the legal procedure just started and would like to express my complete trust in the French justice system that will be judging the legal case and commented he will not be making any further statement about the case.

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Thursday 14, Apr 2016

  WADA Announces Meldonium Amnesty

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The World Anti-Doping Agency has given a potential lifeline to athletes who have tested positive for the recently-banned drug Meldonium. The anti-doping agency made the decision after admitting it is not sure how long it takes the drug to leave the body.

Presently, studies are being conducted into the renal elimination of Meldonium and new guidelines have been issued by WADA that could see some athletes cleared.

The World Anti-Doping Agency remarked that Meldonium could be detectable for several months after it had last been ingested based on the preliminary results of those studies. It remarked there is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times in the case of Meldonium. WADA also said athletes could be cleared of blame if the amount of Meldonium detected was less than one microgram per milliliter and while the same applies if the sample was taken before March 1 and the concentration was between one and 15 micrograms.

The substance was added to the banned list at the start of this year and more than 100 sportsmen and women so far have failed tests for it. According to reports, doping samples from 158 athletes from 15 countries have proved positive for Meldonium and at least 31 Russian athletes are suspected of using the banned substance.

Head of the Russian Speed-Skater Union Alexei Kravtsov announced Russian speed skaters Pavel Kulizhnikov and Ekaterina Konstantinova and short-track speed skater Semion Elistratov may be amnestied by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Kravtsov remarked the concentration of Meldonium in the doping samples of the skaters was significantly less than the acceptable amount of one microgram that the World Anti-Doping Agency made public on April 13. Benefits of the amnesty could also be reaped by four-time swimming world champion Yulia Yefimova and volleyball player Alexander Markin. The amount of Meldonium in their doping samples is also less than the threshold level.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova was the highest-profile athlete to have tested positive for Meldonium. However, it is not clear whether this new guidance could possibly save her and help her case given she admitted not knowing Meldonium had become a banned substance. The Russian professional tennis player is presently serving a provisional suspension after she tested positive at the Australian Open in January. Among other athletes, Swedish runner Abeba Aregawi, Russian swimmer Yuliya Efimova, and Russian Olympic speed-skating champion Semion Elistratov are some of the other athletes to have failed tests.

In a statement, the Russian Sports Ministry gave its reaction and said the Russian Sports Ministry supports and welcomes the decision made by WADA because it has showed a willingness to understand the situation, rather than stick to the rulebook. The statement further reads they were ready to study how long it would take for Meldonium to be eliminated from the body of an athlete and added the World Anti-Doping Agency has sent recommendations to all the anti-doping organizations, which will allow them to make fair decisions based on the actual guilt of an athlete. The Russian Sports Ministry statement also said WADA has demonstrated impartiality and being objective in the fight against doping in doing so.

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Tuesday 29, Mar 2016

  Doping Under Tough Control In Russian Football, Says Deputy PM

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has remarked doping cases in Russian football are given the most serious and toughest control.

Dvorkovich said doping abuse can happen in any form of sport and it is another matter that we try in football to put it under maximum tough control. The Deputy PM also said al the professional clubs take it seriously and everybody, both doctors and coaches, know what can be done and what must not. Dvorkovich also commented that he believes we will not face any serious cases like these and we will deal with the situation further on.

A new wave of doping cases in Russian sports has been connected with the use of the recently-banned drug, Meldonium. The World Anti-Doping Agency, which banned the drug on January 1 this year, had disclosed previously that 123 athletes had tested positive for Meldonium and the names of at least 22 Russian athletes suspected for use of Meldonium have been made public, among them tennis player Maria Sharapova, speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, and swimmer Yulia Efimova.

Meldonium was put by WADA on the list of banned substances on 16 September 2015 effective starting 1 January 2016. Meldonium (Mildronate) is used by amateur and professional athletes to increase resistance to physical strain and high strenuous activity during training sessions. The substance also has the potential of easing nervous, emotional, and psychological stresses at competitions. Mildronate is widely used in the Post-Soviet space to prevent heart diseases. Meldonium was referred by WADA as a prohibited drug and is classified to S4 class in the WADA list (hormones and metabolism modulators).

In another development, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has commented that allegations of systematic doping abuse among Russian swimmers that were reported by British media could be considered as “false accusations.”

The Times reported investigations “uncovered an alarming picture of systematic drug use” over the past decade in Russian swimming. Commenting on the allegations, Mutko said all statements must be made on behalf of the International Swimming Federation. The sports minister of Russia went on to say that The Times is not a regulating sports body and only states its own opinion and added today we may encounter the case of false accusations in regard to Russian swimming.

The world governing body of swimming late on Wednesday said it had no data on the allegedly systematic violations of anti-doping regulations by Russian swimmers. In a statement, FINA said any new allegations of doping in our sport, which are substantiated by evidence and which have not already been addressed, will be investigated as a matter of utmost urgency, because we have absolutely zero tolerance for the use of performance-enhancing substances in swimming.

The International Swimming Federation added it should however be noted that while FINA is not aware of any concrete evidence of systemic doping in Russian swimming, it has taken a particularly robust approach to our anti-doping procedures in relation to Russia and Russian competitions, in light of the recent investigation by WADA.

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Monday 21, Mar 2016

  First Meldonium Track And Field Case Exposed In Russian Athletics

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Nadezhda Kotlyarova, the 2013 European Championship silver-medalist, has tested positive for Meldonium. The 26-year-old Russian track-and-field athlete is the first athlete to test positive for the recently-banned drug and her positive test heaped further pressure on the athletic federation of Russia as it fights hard to get readmitted to international competition in time for the Olympic Games.

Kotlyarova said she failed a drug test at last month’s Russian indoor championships in Moscow. The athlete raced at World Championships last year in Beijing and reached the semi-finals. Kotlyarova was also part of the Russian relay team which won silver in the 4x400m at the 2013 European indoor championships.

The case of Kotlyarova for Meldonium is the first for a Russian track and field athlete and the third worldwide after former world 1,500m champion Abeba Aregawi of Sweden and the former European indoor 800m champion Nataliya Lupu of Ukraine tested positive for the substance.

The athlete remarked the concentration of the substance which was found is very small – 25 nanograms and she stopped taking this stuff long before it was banned. Kotlyarova added she considers herself innocent and said we are victims of circumstance. Commenting on the timing of her test result, Kotlyarova said it is a real shame as this is an Olympic year, and this is how they knock people off their tracks.

At least 100 athletes from multiple countries have tested positive for Meldonium ever since former world tennis number one Sharapova admitted using the drug. Meldonium is prescribed for treating health complications such as diabetes and low magnesium and its use is associated with increased sporting performance. The drug is particularly common in Russia and the former Soviet Union and was invented in Latvia and was used to help Soviet soldiers in the 1980s to fight at high altitude.

The anti-ischemic drug developed at the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis was designed to inhibit carnitine biosynthesis for preventing the accumulation of cytotoxic intermediate products of fatty acid beta-oxidation in ischemic tissues and for blocking this highly oxygen-consuming process. Use of this drug is believed to increase the formation of the gamma-butyrobetaine esters. This drug is used for treating brain circulation disorders by neurological clinics and has the ability to improve mood of patients and make them more active.

The Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) has claimed it repeatedly warned coaches and athletes not to take Meldonium before the drug got banned but the trainer of Kotlyarova remarked he was not given all the necessary information. Coach Sergei Vorobyev said no one told us how long this drug remains in the body.

Thirteen Russian sportsmen and women have tested positive for Meldonium since it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency on January 1, 2016, including speed skating Olympic gold-medalist Semion Elistratov and world tennis star Maria Sharapova.

Last week, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Meldonium had nothing to do with athletics in his country despite warnings issued by sports officials that a number of other Russian competitors could have taken the substance.

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Thursday 17, Mar 2016

  Doping Scandal Involving Russian Athletes Should Not Be Politicized, Says Putin

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Russia should react promptly to the recommendations of the World Anti-Doping Agency rather than politicizing the doping scandal involving athletes of the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked.

Putin told Russian government members at a meeting that it is not necessary to politicize anything or advance any conspiracy theory. The Russian President said we need a systemic and timely reaction to the decisions made, including those passed at the level of international organizations. Putin added it is clear that our sports officials failed to realize the importance of these questions.

Putin also commented that it is obvious that our anti-doping legislation needs serious improvement if we experience such failures. The President of Russia also remarked he is asking the government to work on this and other issues to raise the effectiveness of the national fight against doping. He also remarked we should not put forward any conspiracy theories — we should not put forward any conspiracy theories — we should systematically and in a timely manner react to the decisions that are being made, including on the level of international organizations.

Putin, who has been the President of Russia since 7 May 2012, said the Russian side should have specific measures and get in touch with international organizations if it did not know anything about the possible effects of Meldonium use, of which Russian athletes are being accused. The Russian head of the state also remarked they ought to have discussed everything in advance instead of acting in hindsight, if a popular phrase is to be used, and talking profusely of what was right and what was wrong.

Dubbed the World’s Most Powerful Person by Forbes for three years in a row from 2013-2015, Putin said Russia is a disciplined member of the international athletic community and is highly reputable in it and no one has doubts about that. Putin also said we rightly take pride in the achievements of our athletes and no scandal can call in question their results and that is absolutely clear. Putin, who previously served as an officer in the KGBA, said an overwhelming majority of our athletes observe the code of conduct and have nothing to do with prohibited formulas and every measure must be taken to prevent their sports careers from being harmed by these scandals.

Putin blamed sports leadership of the country for the doping scandal. Putin remarked our sports leadership demonstrated lack of understanding of relevance of these issues, did not update on time the relevant lists that were presented by corresponding international structures, did not update our stop-lists, did not inform on time athletes and coaches about the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ban several substances.

Many prominent Russian athletes, including the tennis star Maria Sharapova and Semion Elistratov, an Olympic gold medalist in speedskating, have recently tested positive for Meldonium. Produced in Latvia (a former Soviet state), the drug is commonly used across Eastern Europe for improving oxygen intake of the heart and blood flow. Meldonium was banned on January 1 this year by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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