Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Romanian Olympic committee (COSR) has announced that ten athletes have recently tested positive for meldonium, while Le Monde reports that Belarusians Aliaksandr and Andrei Bahdanovich also tested positive. The brothers took gold in the C2 1,000m at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and silver at the London 2012 Olympics in the same event.
The ten athletes identified by the COSR include Leonid Carp, who has qualified for the C1 1,000m and C2 1,000m at the Rio 2016 Olympics. His partner for the C2 1,000m is Stefan Strat, who also features on the COSR list. The pair were also both members of the C4 1,000m team that took gold at the Canoe Sprint World Championships last year.
Also on the COSR list are Petrus Gavrila and Traian Neagu, who both competed in the K4 1,000m at the London 2012 Olympics, finishing in eighth place. Gavrila competed with Catalin Turceag and Daniel Burciu – who also feature on the COSR list – at the Canoe Sprint European Championships last year, finishing in eighth place.
Also listed is multiple medalist Liviu Lazar Dumitrescu; Constantin Mironescu, who was part of the team that reached the final of the K4 1,000m at the Baku 2015 European Games; Elena Meroniac, who took silver in the K2 500m in Baku; and Daniela Stanciu, who competes in the high jump. The COSR held a meeting today to discuss the situation.
According to Le Monde, the Bahdanovich brothers were two of five meldonium positives occurring as a result of testing carried out on the Belarusian canoeing team, who were staying at the Centre Omnisports at Temple-sur-Lot.
The B sample of Alexander Povetkin has confirmed that the concentration of meldonium in the boxer’s serum is less than the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) mandated lower limit of 1 μg/mL. Russian news agency Tass reports that the concentration of meldonium in Povetkin’s sample is 0.07 μg/mL, which means that under WADA’s Guidance Notice, the case should not proceed. The World Boxing Council (WBC) has yet to announce a final decision on Povetkin’s case.
WADA has already confirmed that its laboratories are conducting studies on the excretion times for meldonium. The first of these was published on 4 May and was performed on ‘two healthy male volunteers’ (not elite athletes) and found that meldonium exited the body in two phases – a rapid phase followed by a slower elimination phase. It could provide some support for athletes who have tested positive for meldonium, but claim to have stopped taking it before the 2016 Prohibited List came into effect on 1 January.
‘According to literature data, the estimated half-life (t1/2) of meldonium during the initial rapid elimination phase is 5–15 h’, it reads. ‘The results of this pilot study suggest the existence of a subsequent second and substantially slower elimination phase, attributed to a proposed incorporation of meldonium into erythrocytes. The administration of a single oral dose of meldonium was detected in human urine for up to 49 days using established doping control analytical approaches and in DBS for at least 16 days. In consideration of the multi-dose administration data and reported accumulation effects regarding meldonium and the aforementioned results that suggest the incorporation of the drug into erythrocytes allowing for sustained liberation during eryptosis, detection windows after long-term administration of high but yet therapeutic amounts of meldonium span over several weeks and might even extend to months.’
In April, WADA said that there have been 172 meldonium positives since the 2016 Prohibited List was introduced on 1 January. Russia’s Minister for Sport, Vitaly Mutko, expects WADA to complete its studies into the excretion times for meldonium in mid-June, he said on Match TV (Матч ТВ). “Up to now, no one can figure it out”, said Mutko, reports Interfax. “It may be concealing itself and hiding in the organism between six and seven months”. If Mutko is right and WADA’s research finds that meldonium can remain in the body for six or seven months, then all meldonium cases would have to be cancelled, as its ban only came into force six months ago.
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