Russia to probe 'provocations'

MOSCOW • Russia believes there are "political overtones" in the decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to ban the use of the drug meldonium and that it will investigate whether positive tests among its sports stars could have been "provocations".

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told Russia's R-Sport agency on Saturday that law enforcers were already investigating how meldonium got into the bodies of Russian skaters.

He said each case would be examined to establish whether competitors were to blame or "provocation by unknown persons". The Russian government will also officially request the results of Wada's investigation into the drug.

"I think there is a political overtone, but we have to find whether the decision (to ban the use of meldonium) was made based on scientific researches," Dvorkovich said.

Ten Russian athletes have so far been embroiled in the meldonium scandal including former tennis world No. 1 Maria Sharapova.

Others involved are biathlete Eduard Latypov, cyclist Eduard Vorganov, figure skater Ekaterina Bobrova, speed skater Pavel Kulizhnikov, short-track speed skaters Semion Elistratov and Ekaterina Konstantinova and volleyball player Alexander Markin.

Meldonium is also known as mildronate, which is used to treat heart problems. The decision to add it to the Wada's list of banned substances came into force from Jan 1.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Russia to probe 'provocations''. Print Edition | Subscribe