‘Delayed reaction:’ Putin blasts Russian sport authorities for Meldonium scandal

March 16, 2016. Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Government members in the Kremlin. © Aleksey Nikolskyi
Russian President Vladimir Putin held Russia’s Ministry of Sport liable for the latest doping scandal linked to the use of Meldonium by some Russian athletes and sharply criticized it for failing to react in a timely manner to the ban of some drugs.

Russian sports authorities “failed to understand the urgency of this issue and did not update [Russian] stop-lists in time and did not inform our athletes and coaches about the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to ban some drugs in a timely manner,” Putin said at a meeting with the Cabinet, as quoted by Russian media.

The Russian President also urged officials not to politicize the doping scandal and not to construct conspiracy theories stressing that they should instead react to the WADA’s recommendations in a timely fashion.

“There is no need for politicizing or for developing any conspiracy theory. One should systematically, and in good time, react to decisions, which are taken particularly at the level of international organizations,” he said as quoted by TASS.

Putin also called on Russian authorities to more actively cooperate with WADA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in order to avoid such incidents in the future. He demanded the toughening of the punishment for violation of anti-doping rules, stressing at the same time that most Russian athletes have nothing to do with doping and should not suffer from such scandals.

The president urged the government “to take the issue seriously” and “do everything possible” in order to avoid such situations in the future.

The latest doping scandal is linked to the use of Meldonium by some athletes. Meldonium was first developed in Latvia in the early 2000s as a treatment for ischemia, a health condition which results from a reduction in blood flow to body tissues. It has been banned by WADA since January 1.

Since that time, the number of positive tests among athletes for Meldonium has already reached 100 and includes famous Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion. Other known Meldonium users are Swedish distance runner and 2013 world champion Abeba Aregawi, Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov and Ukrainian biathlete Olga Abramova.

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