TENNIS | SHARAPOVA SCANDAL

Meldonium: banned since January 2016

Until Maria Sharapova brought the substance to the world's attention yesterday, very little was known about the endurance-enhancing drug, which has been around since the 1970s.

Meldonium: banned since January 2016

Maria Sharapova was tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, a drug used to increase blood flow and thereby increase stamina in athletes. The World Anti-Doping Agency added the substance to its banned list in January of this year.

Meldonium was created in Latvia in the 1970s and sold as Mildronate. An anti-doping laboratory in Cologne alerted the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis about the consequences of the drug’s use: “the drug demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system (CNS) functions”. The laboratory proposed installing more stringent control measures to detect the presence of the substance in urine and blood samples, given the distinct performance benefits it provides top-level athletes.

Since becoming a banned drug this year, a number of high-performance athletes’ samples have shown traces of meldonium, including those of Eduard Vorganov (cyclist); the Ethophian athletes Endeshaw Negesse and Abeba Aregawi (a nationalised Swede who won the 1,500 meter events in Moscow and Sopot in 2013 and 2014 respectively); six Georgian wrestlers; and the two Russian figure skaters, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev.