Tennis : Meldonium normal course of treatment for the drug is four to six weeks, says maker
Maria Sharapova drug meldonium should be taken only for four weeks not ten years, says maker
THE LATVIAN company that makes meldonium says the normal course of treatment for the drug is four to six weeks — not the 10 years that shamed tennis star Maria Sharapova says she used the substance.
Sharapova — a five-time Grand Slam champion — has admitted to failing a drug test at the Australian Open in January for meldonium, which became a banned substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency code this year.
The former Wimbledon champ, 28, said she had taken meldonium — a heart medicine — for a decade following various health problems including regular sicknesses, early signs of diabetes and “irregular” results from echocardiography exams.
She told a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday: “I was first given the substance back in 2006. I had several health issues going on at the time,” she told a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday.
Meldonium was banned because it aids oxygen uptake and endurance, and several athletes in various international sports have already been caught using it since it was banned.
And now manufacturers Grindeks have revealed that four to six weeks was a common course.
A company statement said: “Depending on the patient’s health condition, treatment course of meldonium preparations may vary from four to six weeks. Treatment course can be repeated twice or thrice a year.
“Only physicians can follow and evaluate patient’s health condition and state whether the patient should use meldonium for a longer period of time.”
Grindeks has previously stated that the drug can provide an “improvement of work capacity of healthy people at physical and mental overloads and during rehabilitation period.”
But the company claimed on Tuesday that it believed the substance would not enhance athletes’ performance in competition — and might even do the opposite.
A statement said: “It would be reasonable to recommend them to use meldonium as a cell protector to avoid heart failure or muscle damage in case of unwanted overload.”
The Associated Press reported it was able to buy vials and tablets of meldonium over the counter in Moscow on Tuesday.
Accompanying documentation stated that side effects could include blood pressure changes, irregular heartbeat and skin conditions.
German anti-doping expert Mario Thevis, who helped to develop the test for meldonium, told the AP that testing was reliable despite meldonium’s recent addition to the Wada banned list.
He said: “As a scientist, you can never say 100 percent, but the substance is non-natural, which means that it can be readily differentiated (from naturally occurring substances).
“There is a potential of the substance to enhance performance and it has been described as a means to facilitate recovery and to enhance physical as well as mental workload capabilities.”
Thevis said the drug appeared most prevalent in Eastern European countries.
Following Sharapova’s drug test failure, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said he expected more Russian athletes to test positive for meldonium.
While meldonium was banned as of January 1, the decision to ban it had been announced by Wada and sports organizations as early as September 2015.
Sharapova said she received an email with information on the changes in December, but did not read the information at the time.