Upon hearing the news of Maria Sharapova’s failed doping test, Kim Clijsters her old Belgian tennis rival expressed that she was “very disappointed”. Sharapova admitted on Monday evening that she had tested positive for meldonium during a routine test at the Australian Open following her defeat at the quarter finals to Serena Williams. The Russian tennis star was notified of the test results on March the 2nd.
The former world number 1 ranked tennis player took the hormone to treat diabetes.
Jean-Pierre Castiaux, sports doctor and professor at the University of Louvain, explained that the hormone only exists in Russia and modifies the metabolism. “It helps to prevent myocardial infractions and allows for an oxygen increase to muscular cells,” the Professor says. “This may have effects on your physical performances since the meldonium increases oxygen intakes and can accelerate the recovery. It is a rather doubtful substance and that is why it was recently banned even though it has been around since several years”.
The professor finds the diabetes explanation by the tennis player to be very lousy. “There have been some testimonies in animals that may have shown that meldonium prevents diabetes but there have not been any real studies on it. No products really work to prevent this disease”.
The Russian tennis player is not the only one that has been tested positive for this substance. Most recently, the winner of the Tokyo marathon, Endeshaw Negesse tested positive in January. On Monday, Russian Ekaterina Bobrova, European bronze medalist on figure ice skating, was also announced to have tested positive for having meldonium traces found in her blood.
In the meantime, Maria Sharapova has been provisionally suspended from the ATP tours. Her sponsors have also announced that they cancel their contracts with her and she risks up to four years of suspension.