Maria Sharapova stated that she had been medically prescribed meldonium for 10 years, but the company that makes the drug states it is to be used for only a 4-6 week period.
On Monday, Maria Sharapova addressed the media to admit to failing a drug test at the Australian Open. The substance that triggered the positive result, meldonium, was only banned starting in January, and Sharapova had been taking it as medication to treat various ailments for the past decade.
Tuesday, the drug manufacturer in Latvia, Grindeks, spoke about how the drug was meant to be used, and it does not exactly line up with what Sharapova was saying during her press conference.
The company has stated that treatment should only last four to six weeks at a time and should only be repeated twice to three times on a single year. Grindeks released this information in an emailed statement that added the possibility that doctors could prescribe meldonium for a longer period of time.
Grindeks, refused to comment on if they thought Sharapova’s descriptions of her health issues would warrant such a prolonged use of the drug.
Intended for managing chronic heart conditions, meldonium helps to increase endurance, oxygen intake, and recovery from injury, all important in giving athletes an extra edge. It may have just been added to tennis’ banned substances list, but it has been on the radar of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) for the past year and is easy to spot in a doping test.
"“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],” said Thevis, a professor at the anti-doping laboratory in Cologne, Germany, in a telephone interview. “It can be tested as reliably as any other doping agent.” He added: “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.” Via CBC.ca"
Not approved for use in the U.S by the FDA, meldonium is readily available over the counter in Eastern European countries, and it is suspected that many more athletes from that region of the world will test positive for the substance in the coming months.