By Jude Titus
The World Anti-Doping Agency has today [Wednesday] exempted athletes found with meldonium in their system after lacking clear scientific information on how long the drug can stay in an athlete’s body.
‘‘There is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times,’’ WADA said on Monday.
Meldonium was added to the list of banned substances by WADA on January 1, 2016 and the agency informed athletes around the world about the decision towards end of 2015.
The agency has indicated that provisional suspensions can be cancelled if it is proved that an athlete used meldonium before it was placed in its list of banned substances.
WADA’s decision could lead numerous meldonium doping cases thrown out and athletes will avoid sanctions but Craig Reedie, the WADA President reiterated that it is not an amnesty as such.
‘‘The presence of less than one microgram of meldonium in doping samples in tests conducted on athletes before March 1 this year is acceptable,’’ said the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Meldonium is typically used to treat heart ailments but if it’s overused it increases blood flow which translates to increased endurance and aerobic capabilities by carrying more oxygen to an athlete’s muscles.
Renowned tennis player Maria Sharapova early last month tested positive for meldonium where she revealed that she had unknowingly taken the drug for the past decade.
The Russian tennis player was taking meldonium to help her with the heart conditions she experienced over the years and was advised by a doctor in 2006 when the drug was not on WADA’s watch list.
Kenya last week received a reprieve after WADA extended the deadline to May 2 to legislate on the anti-doping bill so as to bring its program in line with the global code.
Kenyan Members of Parliament yesterday [Tuesday] debated on the new law, whose enactment is crucial to Kenya’s participation in the August, 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Majority Leader Aden Duale who sponsored the Anti-Doping Bill drafted with the help of WADA asked MPs to speedily pass the Bill that should be ready by Thursday next week.