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The Reason Why Maria Sharapova Is In Trouble

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova is in trouble for taking a medication that, on 1st January 2016, was banned. The reason for the ban is because the medication is potentially performance enhancing. The tennis star is facing a ban of up to four years. In the meantime she has lost top class sponsors, like including Nike and Porsche and been dropped as a U.N. ambassador. This is for playing in the 2016 Australian Open whilst taking a pharmaceutical product called meldonium.

The issues facing Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is why, given her great entourage of staff, no one checked to see the revised list of banned medicines. One would assume that is why a coach is employed. The second issue is why she took the drug, over such a long period of time, in the first place? It would seem irresponsible for any medical doctor to administer the medication for such a period on the basis of a possible heredity health issue (and where Sharapova was displaying no evident symptoms).

This has led a commentator in The Guardian to speculate:

“Sharapova’s vague explanations and justifications for her own meldonium use did little to dissuade the view that she was taking it for performance-enhancement reasons. There was nothing wrong with doing so until 1 January this year, either.”

The Latest News will not speculate further, and more facts are likely to emerge in time. What we’ll do now is look at the medication in question.

According to PharmaFile meldonium, in the form that Sharapova was taking it, is marketed as Mildronate and produced by a Latvian-based company called Grindeks. The official licence for the drug indicates it is “an anti-ischemic cell protector in patients with angina pectoris, chronic heart failure and brain circulation disorders.” Ischemia is a form of strike, and relates to a restriction of blood supply to vessels.

The drug in this form is common in parts of Eastern Europe but it does not have approval for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you really wanted to take it, you can purchase it over the Internet (The Latest News does not recommend people purchase prescription medicines without consulting a qualified medical practitioner).

The drug has been criticized by the Center for Preventive Doping Research in Cologne. This research base looks at medicines that can potentially help athletes “perform better”. With Mildronate the Center found it demonstrates “an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system function.”

Moreover, the reason the World Anti-Doping Agency added the drug to its list of banned substances was because of its ability to enhance physical performance.

Others caught up in the ban include Russian ice dancer, Ekaterina Bobrova; Swedish middle-distance runner, Abeba Aregawi; Ethiopian long-distance runner, Endeshaw Negesse, and Russian cyclist, Eduard Vorganov.

Sharapova will no doubt be preparing a defense. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.