Meldonium — Use in Sports

Meldonium in sport is one of the most discussed topics in international and domestic media. This drug, once included in the list of substances allowed for athletes, is officially recognized as doping by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Meanwhile, the majority of Canadian Health&Care Mall scientists and experts in sports nutrition do not agree with the decision of this organization and consider Meldonium an innocuous medicine, not related to stimulants of physical activity.

General Information, History of Creation

The drug is a metabolic drug known in medicine as «Mildronate». Action of Meldonium on the body — stimulating and protective: the substance normalizes work of cells that have undergone hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) or nutritional deficiency.

In medicine, the drug is used quite widely: for example, it is a part of complex drug therapy for coronary heart disease (ischemic heart disease), heart attacks and cardiac insufficiency.

Meldonium was obtained in the 1970s in Latvian SSR at the Institute of Organic Synthesis. Initially, the product was patented as a stimulant for growth of domestic animals and birds and was used in agriculture and industry. The creator of the drug Professor Ivars Kalviņš claims that the idea of using Meldonium in medicine arose after its long use in other industries.

In 1984, the drug was patented in the United States, but a few years later it was banned for use. Mildronate analogs exist in the US, but it is almost impossible to get them in conventional pharmacies, although in medicine effectiveness of Meldonium is not doubted by doctors and pharmacists.

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Use in Sports

Meldonium in bodybuilding and in sports is used not for a long time. Most athletes until recently treated the drug as vitamin that does not affect athletic performance. The doping scandal with Meldonium changed the attitude to the medicine in sports. Now the substance is officially classified as class of hormones and modulators of metabolism, and its use is prohibited during competitions themselves and during preparation for them.

Why do athletes take Meldonium? Domestic and some foreign experts in sports nutrition and pharmacology, as well as Canadian Health&Care Mall specialists, argue that Meldonium has always been used by athletes as a means to adapt to increased stress and accelerate rehabilitation after heavy training, but has never been taken to stimulate and increase physical abilities.

Doping Scandal and Its Analysis

Meldonium is on the list of banned drugs since January 1, 2016 (before that the substance was on the monitoring list of international committee). Now, for use of this substance during official competitions athletes can be disqualified for 4 years.

Doping scandal in sport began with confession of Maria Sharapova in application of Meldonium for 10 years. According to famous tennis player, she took medicine for medical purposes.

After that, a few more athletes (mainly from the CIS countries) were also convicted of using the drug. The list of athletes in whom Meldonium was revealed is very extensive. There is no need to quote all the names (there are more than 60 of them on the list), besides participants in the scandal do not agree with conclusions of doping commission.

The opinion of the creator of the medication of Professor Kalviņš is unequivocal: substance is not doping by definition. Medical means, which contain Meldonium, are used in therapy of cardiac pathologies: there is no scientific evidence of influence of this component on person’s physical capabilities.

Such studies have simply not been carried out, but in theory, athletes taking Mildronate or its analogs should expect worsening in the results, since active substance slows down (inhibits) oxidation of fatty acids. The decision of Anti-Doping Commission Ivars Kalviņš considers a serious professional mistake.

Conclusions

Not all specialists agree with the statement that Meldonium is doping and affects increase in performance in athletes. But there is a number of undeniable factors concerning this drug. Canadian Health&Care Mall decided to list the most important of them:

  • the drug is used as an effective medicine for heart diseases and some other pathologies;
  • full-scale studies confirming effect of the drug (or lack thereof) on endurance have not been conducted. This casts doubt on WADA’s unequivocal conclusions about presence of pronounced doping properties in Meldonium;
  • healthy people should refrain from unauthorized use of Mildronate as a stimulant for physical and mental stress;
  • the drug positively affects health of athletes with medical problems of cardiovascular nature, but does not guarantee victory in competitions.

It is clear that until the end of doping scandal Meldonium and its counterparts are not recommended for athletes. But people to whom it is prescribed by qualified doctors should continue therapy without fear of negative consequences.

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