WADA announce meldonium suspension climbdown

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Amnesty declared by WADA on meldonium positive sanctions


The World Anti Doping Agency have today declared what amounts to a meldonium amnesty as preliminary research has been provided to them. Athletes with low levels detected in their urine from Januray to March can be ‘let off’, whilst those with slightly higher levels will not be automatically banned under interim arrangements announced today.


Document from WADA can be found here.

WADA claimed that the ban had been introduced following a thorough review by their expert committee into the evidence available last year. Evidence based decisions rely on utilising all of the evidence available, and ensuring sufficient evidence is available to make an informed decision. In this case they now seem to admit the hole in their evidence.

The new research show that WADA did not have full information about how meldonium is processed by the body when imposing the ban.  The athletes who have been found positive may well have stopped using the drug in the weeks or months leading up to the ban with the best intentions of completing clean come 1 Jan. Originally it was suggested meldonium would be cleared from the body in a week or two after stopping but with the ever increasing number of positives I did become concerned this was not the case and it could have been accumulating in the body (as cannabis does in long term users).

A more sensible approach from WADA would have seen them impose an amnesty period during which athletes were prohibited from using the drug but finding it in the urine would not have resulted in a ban. They have been backed into this corner now by the new research and the weight of the number of athletes testing positive. Alternatively they could have kept meldonium on the monitoring list until they had all of the facts.  I look forward to the publication of the results.

It will be interesting to see the other research WADA has commissioned when it becomes available.  Have any groups been researching whether the drug is actually performance enhancing? This is subject to much discussion currently.

What has become clear is the meldomium saga will continue this year and we could see many more athletes fail tests before it is fully resolved.


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About Dr Tom Bassindale

Dr Tom Bassindale is a forensic scientist, and the founder of We Are Forensic. He's managed hundreds of forensic toxicology cases, and is an experienced court witness. He has specialist expertise in forensic toxicology and drug testing in sport. Dr B is currently a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. And yes... he watches CSI.