Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and the world’s highest-paid female athlete, announced Monday that she had tested positive for the recently banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open.
Sharapova, said she started taking the substance in 2006 for magnesium deficiency and irregular EKG results, while also citing a family history of diabetes.
“It made me healthy, that’s why I continued to take it,” she said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency discovered early in 2015 that an alarming number of athletes were using meldonium, a sign that athletes could be misusing a drug for non-medical purposes. Given the substance’s performance-enhancing effects, WADA added meldonium to its watch list of performance-enhancing drugs for 2015. The organization subsequently decided to ban it as of Jan. 1, 2016.
Meldonium is not FDA approved and is therefore not available in the United States. It is mainly used in Russia and Eastern European countries.
Mildronate is the leading agent of the cardiovascular group, antiischemic agent of a metabolic action:
- Acts as antiischemic cell protector in patients with angina pectoris, chronic heart failure, brain circulation disorders
- Improves physical capacity and mental function in the case of ischemia and in healthy people
Meldonium also helps increase an athlete’s endurance, protects against stress, improves an athlete’s recovery time after exercise and enhances certain activations of central nervous system functions. That means meldonium can be used to enhance performance.