On 7 March 2016, tennis player Maria Sharapova announced that she had tested positive for meldonium, a substance prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in January 2016.
Research used by WADA to ban the substance has now been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (online, 8 March 2016)
The authors studied drug declarations from athletes during the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, plus results from blood and urine doping tests.
Meldonium use was detected across 15 of the 21 sports at the Games and 13 medallists declared they were taking it. However, 43 of the 66 athletes who tested positive for meldonium did not declare taking the drug, which is thought to improve blood flow and aid recovery.
The researchers say the findings highlight the “excessive and inappropriate use” of the prescription drug among healthy athletes.